About Cannabis

Cannabis is a drug produced from the Cannabis sativa (commonly known as hemp) or Cannabis indica plant, which is related to nettles and hops. It’s believed to have originated in the mountainous regions of India, and grows wild in many parts of the world. The plant contains more than 400 chemicals, including cannabidiolic acid, an antibiotic with similar properties to penicillin. The different chemical derivatives of the plant can be used for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Most of the medicinal qualities of cannabis come from a group of 60 compounds called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are most concentrated on the surface of the female flowers in the trichomes, whichare the resin glands that vie cannabis its frosty, gooey appearance. Smoking the whole flower will reap Ihc benefits of the cannabinoids as well as a whole other spectrum of herbal compounds. Some people prefer to extract the cannabinoid resins and process them into alternative forms of medicine. The belief is that a higher level of processing and purification delivers only the medicinal resins without olher undesirable substances similar to those found in tobacco cigarettes. Some patients use concentrates or “preps” simply because they tent to be easier to use and deliver more medicinal effect in less smoke.

The main active ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabino (THC). One type, skunk, can be particularly potent as it contains two to three time as much THC as other types. Cannabis acts as a mild sedative, leaving most people feeling relaxed, chilled out or just sleepy.

It also:

• Has mild hallucinogenic effects, causing a distortion of reality
• Makes some people become more animated
• Releases inhibitions, making people talkative or giggly
• Can cause nausea in some people (despite the fact that cannabis can have an anti-nausea effect), while it quite often makes others feel hungry

Cannabis or its derivatives may also be used as a medical treatment. There is some scientific evidence to suggest it may be useful in a wide range of conditions. But the complex nature of the substances contained within the plant makes it difficult for medical research to establish clearly its safety or efficacy, so its effects are far from proven or well-understood. The active chemicals within cannabis (known as a group as cannabinoids) are gradually being identified and wide-scale trials testing the safety and efficacy of these cannabis extracts (or synthetic forms of them) are currently underway in the UK and elsewhere.

 

For instance, cannabis appears to be able to help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment, although not more so than other already established medications. The drugs used to treat cancer are among the most powerful, and most toxic, used in medicine. They produce unpleasant side effects, such as days or weeks of vomiting and nausea after each treatment. Some cannabinoids relieve nausea and allow patients to eat and live normally.

Extracts also seem to benefit patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, although most of the benefit seems to be from people feeling more relaxed when taking a cannabinoid or medical derivative of cannabis. Recent research showed no reduction in muscle spasticity.

Claims have also been made for its use in treating: 

  • Migraine
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Strokes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Insomnia

 

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