What makes Cannabis Medicine?
The cannabis plant has dozens of active ingredients called cannabinoids which are found in a wide range of concentrations within the flower, leaf, and stem. The cannabis plant produces cannabinoids in varying levels throughout the plant, a majority of which can be found in the flowers of the female plant and are concentrated in a viscous resin that is produced in glandular structures known as trichomes. In addition to cannabinoids, the resin is rich in terpenes, which are largely responsible for the odor of the plant.
Ailments and Corresponding Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are delivered to the body by several different routes, including vaporization and smoking the raw plant material, a variety of concentrates, ingesting the plant material in a variety of forms such as through butter or oil, or even by applying topically.
Researchers have identified over 100 unique cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. Many of these cannabinoids interact with the human endo-cannabinoid system using the cannabinoid receptors found throughout our bodies.
There are currently two known subtypes of cannabinoid receptors, termed CB1 and CB2.
- The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain and central nervous system, but also in the lungs, liver and kidneys.
- The CB2 receptor is mainly expressed in the immune system and in the hematopoietic cells.
The affinity of an individual cannabinoid to each receptor determines the effect of that cannabinoid. Cannabinoids that bind more selectively to certain receptors are more desirable for medical usage.
Due to the unique nature of the distribution network, regulation, and legal status, cannabis poses several questions for regulators, producers, retailers, and consumers alike. One of these questions must be: “How will this medicine be provided to patients in an acceptably safe form and with a consistent dosage?” As state and local governments begin providing a more comprehensive regulatory environment for the production and distribution of Cannabis, solving that problem must rank as a high priority.
Click here to watch educational videos on each cannabinoid (external link).
Therapeutic Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids
Recently published scientific research (2000-2010) on the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids for 19 clinical indications:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Chronic pain
- Diabetes mellitus’
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Gliomas/other cancers
- Hepatitis C
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sleep apnea
- Tourette’s syndrome