CANNABIS and PHYTOCANNABINOIDS

Cannabis (hemp) is one of the oldest domesticated plants, used for fiber and medical purposes. Cannabis originated in South Central Asia and is largely divided into two main species cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. There are thousands of different cannabis strains.

Cannabis sativa is associated with cerebral and invigorating effects. Sativas contain lower amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and higher amounts of cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabis indica is known to have stronger physiological effects on the body and be more sedative.

Hybrid strains are genetic crosses of sativas and indicas to perpetuate the best features of the two species.

Medical Cannabis refers to the use of diverse cannabis products in an alternative treatment of a wide variety of symptoms and diseases. Medical marijuana strains contain between 0.3-25% of THC.

Medicinal properties refers to the ability of cannabis and isolated cannabinoids to help with an array of symptoms and disorders ranging from chronic pain, epilepsy to cancer to autoimmune disorders.

Hemp – strains of cannabis sativa that have many applications, including industrial and medical uses. According to the regulations in many countries, hemp plants contain 0.3% THC or below. 0.3% THC limit is considered safe and takes into the account high risk population.

Phytocannabinoids – cannabinoids that are found in cannabis, but also in other plants, like flax. Phytocannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid and other physiological systems in human brains and bodies. There are over 115 phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants.

THC binds CB1 receptors by fitting into it like a key into a lock. THC binding to CB1 causes euphoric (intoxicating) effects. THC also targets other receptors, like

CBD also binds CB1 receptors, but in a different location and has taming effects, especially on the negative side effects of THC. However, CBD prefers to bind to other receptors, like serotonin 5HT receptor, instead of CB1.

Acidic cannabinoids are acidic forms of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, known as THCA and CBDA. Over 90% of cannabinoids naturally synthesized by cannabis plants are acidic. THCA is the precursor of THC and has no intoxicating properties until it is heated or decarboxylated. Extracts prepared using low temperatures or ‘raw’ cannabis formulations contain acidic phytocannabinoids.

Decarboxylation is a process of turning acidic cannabinoids into neutral forms, like transforming THCA to THC via heating.

Full spectrum hemp or cannabis extracts refers to the whole plant extract, whereby mostly the tops of the plants are used to preserve the full spectrum of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and other important molecules. Whole plant hemp extracts are usually dominated by CBDs.

Terpenes – volatile odor molecules that give different cannabis strains distinct aromas. Terpenes have known physiological and psychological effects and are also inhaled at lower temperatures than the phytocannabinoids.

Medical cannabis and cannabinoid consumption. Inhalation delivers phytocannabinoid vapor or smoke into the lungs and small blood vessels that distribute it throughout the body. Ingesting cannabis is the second most used way, either by application of oils and concentrates sublingually, in a buccal (cheek) way, or chewing.

Suppositories deliver cannabis formulations into vaginal and anal cavities. Topical cannabis preparations are applied externally on the skin, nails, wounds and cuts.

1 in 8 or 13% of US adults use cannabisThis number is almost double of what was reported in 2013 at 7%. Gallup Poll 2016.