An introduction to Cannabis
Enlighten and Cannabis
Cannabis is a plant with a growing number of recognized health and medical benefits. It is at the beginning stages of more disciplined medical research, and a deeper understanding of the specific plant compounds and molecules exerting effects, and “tailored” formulations which may be used as treatments for a variety of conditions.
As a company focused on science and evidence-based health products, our objective is to also add value to the Cannbais subject matter, and to make contributions to uncovering the medical properties of this plant. We work through our scientific team with select international partners to further this discovery.
Information provided herein offers our visitors some general guidance about the medicinal use of cannabis. In time, we trust we’ll be able to share more details regarding trusted, evidenced-based formulations optimized to provide benefit to our customers.
What is Cannabis
Cannabis sativa is a genus of plants that propagated natively in Central Asia since recorded time. The native landrace strains of the plant can be distinguished between hemp type Cannabis Sativa varieties and the narcotic (drug type) Asian land races of C. sativa (so-called C. indica Lamarck). The term “cannabis” is used generically for both cannabis plants and/or any or all of the preparations made from them. The plant subsequently spread throughout the world, proving very capable at growing in almost any environment. This has contributed to the plant’s complexities in terms of varieties, strains and composition of molecules. Human consumption and use of the plant both as food, fabric and medicine, has been dated in excess of 10,000 years.
Generally, Cannabis is grouped into the two prominent species strain types; Sativa and Indica. Indicas were sub-classified in the late 1700’s, and flourished in the northern areas of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These strains are characterized as being shorter, more broadly leafed (fuller) than the taller Sativas, and often contain lower amounts of THC to CBD than their sativa relatives. Recently, there is continuous development of new Hybrid strains that impart respective characteristics of both strains.
Industrial “Hemp” type are agricultural varieties of the tall Sativa strains generally bred to have little or no THC, and increasingly higher amounts of the CBD cannabinoid. This CBD can be commercially and viably extracted from the hemp leaf and flower biomass (where legalized) in addition to the hemp’s seed and fibre processing.
Formats of Cannabis
Cannabis has traditionally been consumed through inhalation of the plant flower (bud) and leaves, and through oral ingestion; either as an infused oil extracted from the plant and made into edible products, or as concoction or beverage format made from the plant.
Strain usage is broadly characterized, but generally these appear to be most prevalent or strain-dependent:
Sativa (dominant) strains: Regarded as stimulating, energizing, preferred daytime use strains, improving creativity or mental focus, increased sensations, more of a head high
Indica (dominant) strains: Regarded as relaxing, anit-anxiety, fuller body effects or high, improved appetite and nausea relief, more nighttime usage
The “resin” of the whole cannabis plant is now often pressed into formats known as Rosin and or Shatter, which are subsequently heated and inhaled.
More recently with Cannabis becoming legal in many countries, modern technology is being applied from the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries.
This is creating a variety of more “pharma-like” preparations of cannabis, including; capsules, suppositories, topical gels and creams. The “edibles” market is seeing the development of a variety of infused beverages and edible product formats.
Medicinal and Recreational Use of Cannabis
Cannabis has actually been used medicinally for thousands of years. In the Ayurvedic Medicine of India; the oldest plant based medicine practice, Ganja (ancient Sanskrit) is regarded as one of the five sacred plants, known to posses the power of angels in it’s leaves.
The plant is consumed as a beverage known as “Bhang”, or the hash or resin “Charas” is smoked. It is interesting to note that Cannabis is always used in combination with other supporting Ayurvedic plants and herbs, and never used as a long term treatment. In the Ayurevedic plant medicine texts, Cannabis is used to treat a variety of health conditions The plant is also used in certain spiritual ceremonies and practices, where the plant’s psychoactive qualities are thought to supplement or augment deeper meditation experiences.
From these origins, both medicinal and recreational usage has flourished globally. “Marijuana”or Cannabis, is actually the number one drug consumed globally. As it’s usage becomes legalized in many countries; usually for medicinal use, but also adult recreational use, there is a growing body of evidence for it’s use as a supporting or complimentary therapy for the treatment of pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, inflammation, Epilepsy and MS, with chemotherapy in Oncology, and it’s obvious mood and depression applications.
The plant exerts such widespread effects through the complexity of it’s cannabinoid and terpene composition, and our own inherent endocannabinoid system (ECS).
How Cannabis Works: Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Cannabis Compounds - Cannabinoids & Terpenes, CBD, THC
There are over 480 natural components found within the Cannabis plant, of which >85 have been classified as “cannabinoids;” chemicals unique to the plant. The most well known and researched of these, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the substance primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, and more recently Cannabidiol (CBD) – non pyschoactive but proving to possess many health benefits. The effects of THC are influenced by other components of the plant, most notably cannabinoids such as CBD, which appears to moderate or balance the “high” effects of THC and make cannabis usage more effective medicinally for many people.
The cannabinoids are generally separated into primary sub-classes.
- Cannabigerols (CBG);
- Cannabichromenes (CBC);
- Cannabidiols (CBD);
- Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC);
- Cannabinol (CBN) and cannabinodiol (CBDL);
- Other cannabinoids (such as cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabitriol (CBT) and other miscellaneous types).
Cannabis Compound Differences
The major differences between the cannabinoids are determined by the extent to which they are psychologically active. Three classes of cannabinoids, the CBG, CBC and CBD are not known to have such an effect. THC, CBN, CBDL and some other cannabinoids on the other hand, are known to be psychologically active to varying degrees.
CBD is probably the most abundant cannabinoid, contributing up to 40% of cannabis resin. Interestingly, CBD may actually have beneficial anti-anxiety effects, and has been proven to lessen the psychoactive effects of THC. This means that a plant with a greater percentage of CBD may reduce the intensity of the effects of the THC, which in effect lowers the potency of the plant. Use of a cannabis plant with less CBD has been shown to have an increased psychological impact and result in unwanted effects such as anxiety. When THC is exposed to air it oxidizes and forms CBN. CBN is only very weakly psychoactive and not unlike CBD interacts with THC to reduce its effects. This is why cannabis that has been left out unused will have increasing amounts of CBN and decreasing amounts of THC and thus lose potency.1
THC and CBD are indicated for treating pain, inflammation, and nausea. CBD has been indicated for spasm relief, and both have been used in treating a multitude of neurological conditions and growing range of medical conditions.
The Full Spectrum (entourage) effect.
Many (if not most) people believe consumption of cannabinoids is most effective when the origin material is as close to “native” or natural as possible. This has been well studied in other plant species, but appears very characteristic with respect to Cannabis. It is believed due to the inherent, complex complimentary effects of minor plant compounds (ie terpenes) which appear to enhance or provide a more effective holistic result overall, than isolated cannabinoids or molecules taken in a stand alone, synthetic manner.
What Do Cannabinoids Do?
Cannabinoids affect the user by interacting with specific receptors, located within different parts of the central nervous system. Two kinds of cannabinoid receptors have been found to date and are termed CB1 and CB2.
A substance that occurs naturally within the brain and binds to CB1 receptors was discovered in 1992 and termed “anandamide.” Additional naturally occurring substances that bind to CB1 have since been discovered, and these, together with these receptors are termed the “endocannabinoid system (ECS).”
The actual effects of the cannabinoids reflect the areas of the brain that they interact with. Interactions tend to occur in our limbic system (the part of the brain that affects memory, cognition and psychomotor performance) and in our mesolimbic pathway (activity in this region is associated with feelings of reward). They also widely distributed in areas of pain perception. It appears that THC causes CB1 receptor activation, indirectly increasing dopamine levels and producing it’s respective psychoactive effects.
We are still learning about the complexities of the endogenous cannabinoid system. Much research to date has focused on the potential medical uses of man-made cannabinoids, called “synthetic analogues”, but recent legalization changes in many countries has ushered in a new era of plant based medical research. There is growing medical interest in whole plant extracts and oils, and specific formulations incorporating more of the plants native characteristics. These more holistic plant uses appear to produce the “entourage” effect referred to with cannabis, in which many of the plant’s compounds seem to act together or synergistically to produce a more effective patient or user outcome. 2
1 “Learn About Marijuana; Science-based information for the public” Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI) University of Washington, Seattle, WA USA
2 “Cannabinoids, Cannabidiol, CBD, Cannabis” PubMed; National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) National Center for Biotechnology Information, Bethesda, MD USA
Cannabis Health Benefits
The most researched area of academic study has been in the treatment of pain with Cannabis and Cannabinoids, especially THC and CBD. It is believed these molecules play a major role in both limiting inflammation and depressing neural pain signaling mechanisms. Cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors are potential targets for reducing both pain and inflammation. There is an established and growing body of scientific evidence Cannabinoids help relieve pain and pain symptoms, and are a far less addictive pain treatment option than opiate class medications.
CBD is anti-inflammatory, and shows beneficial results in both the treatment and management of arthritis pain and inflammation. Approximately 50 million (22%) adult Americans were diagnosed with arthritis in 2007–2009, most prominently osteoarthritis and the autoimmune associated rheumatoid arthritis. Projected 67 million by 2030.1
1 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2010).
Sleep and Anxiety
Cannabis is well known for both inducing sleep and reducing anxiety. It is is also well known that one of the major adult recreational uses of cannabis is for addressing these conditions. Both CBD and THC are believed to play a role in these aspects.
Headaches and Migraines
Cannabis is proving to be an effective, supportive treatment for those suffering chronic headaches and migraines.
Cannabis rich in CBD, or CBD alone, are being used in the treatment and management of all these conditions:
– Seizures, spasms, forms of Eplipesy
– ALZ, Parkinsons
Anxiety and Depression
Cannabis has been used as an effective treatment for anxiety and depression for many years, and is in fact one of its main recreational uses.
Cannabis is being effectively used for symptomatic relief associated with Cancer, primarily for pain management in oncology but also for chemotherapy related treatment in appetite improvement, anti-emitic (vomiting) and for psychological (mood) elevation..
Cannabis Research, Medical and Dosing Information
Individuals are best advised to seek medical consultation for specific medical indications and or recommended strains.
Every person reacts differently depending on the cannabis strain, their individual genotype and their own endocannabinoid system. People appear have very unique user experiences and there is a significant amount of further research required to
Medical resources: to keep patients and practitioners current with respect to latest medical information, including research, practical clinical information and dosing recommnedations. If a new or inexperienced user, Start Low, Go Slow.