How it works or understanding marijuana as medicine
Much of the research so far suggests that cannabis, or more specifically cannabinoid-terpenoid-based medications, can be used for a broad spectrum of ailments. Though we won’t discuss all of them, we will go through the most of the major conditions that cannabis is recommended for. Please remember that there is varying amounts of evidence for the efficacy of cannabis for each condition.
Cannabis is thought to work via the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was discovered in the late 80s and early 90s by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who also first synthesized THC in the 1960s. CBD’s chemical structure was also found in the 60s by Raphael Mechoulam. The entourage effect is also a coin termed by Raphael Mechoulam, where the unique cannabinoid-terpenoid profile of different types of cannabis has very specific effects.
Dr. Ethan Russo posited the theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD), where illnesses and conditions may be caused by or lead to a deficiency of endocannabinoids within the system. The body produces its own natural cannabinoids, such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD mimic these endocannabinoids, with THC being roughly analogous to anandamide and CBD being analogous to 2-AG. It is thought that the ECS plays an intimate role in keeping the body’s physiological processes (e.g. temperature regulation, sleep, reward, pain detection, appetite, immune function etc.) in balance – homeostasis.
Strain (or, more specifically, the cannabinoid-terpenoid profile), dosage and environment, as well as personal preferences, may also determine the efficacy of cannabis for a specific condition. Sometimes high doses may be needed, sometimes low, and sometimes varying amounts. This means that different profiles may have positive, negative or neutral effects, depending upon illness or condition. Also remember that everyone’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is different, and therefore cannabis may affect one person differently to another, even if they suffer from the same condition.
Also, if we are to treat cannabis as medicine (which we are), we must treat it with the respect it deserves. This means we must point out negatives, say that it is likely to be unsuitable for certain conditions, that it may not be suitable for everyone and tell you that it is not necessarily a panacea. Yes, just like with other medicines, cannabis may well be as much a problem as it could be of assistance.