Medical marijuana is a botanical product that comes from the cannabis sativa plant. The buds and leaves of this plant contain chemicals called cannabinoids (a type of chemical compound) that produce certain effects on humans. More than 1.8 million Americans use it to treat various physical and mental ailments and as an effective natural alternative to many prescription medications.
Does Medical Marijuana contain THC or CBD?
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the two most common cannabinoids in medical marijuana.
However, it depends on the type of plant. Most varieties of medical marijuana are indica strains that contain higher amounts of CBD than THC. Others are sativa strains with more THC than CBD, though this is less common than high-CBD medical marijuana. But within each variety, there can be significant variation in the ratio of CBD to THC.
What Is THC?
THC is the primary cannabinoid in medical marijuana. This chemical works by attaching to certain receptors in the brain and increases dopamine production, resulting in pain relief and muscle relaxation. These effects can help with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, reduce anxiety, relieve multiple sclerosis spasms or cramps or simply give you a case of the munchies.
Other medical effects of THC on humans include:
- Increased appetite leading to weight gain
- Reduction in diabetes symptoms
- Anti-seizure effects (particularly in childhood epilepsy)
- Pain relief and reduction of inflammation, which helps with symptoms of arthritis and neuropathy
The amount of THC in medical marijuana varies widely depending on the strain, method of growing and processing methods. Some strains contain more than 20% THC, while hemp leaf contains less than 1% THC.
What Is CBD?
CBD is the second most common cannabinoid in medical marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a euphoric “high” and has no psychotropic effects. However, it is still very effective at treating certain health conditions and symptoms.
CBD works by attaching to receptors that impact immune function, pain and the body’s endocannabinoid system – a group of neurotransmitters and receptors. The human body naturally produces endocannabinoids that impact the body and brain, and it helps regulate things like sleep, pain sensation, mood and appetite.
CBD is used to treat:
- Inflammation: CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce acne and a host of other health problems, such as nausea and lethargy caused by chemotherapy treatments or pain from rheumatoid arthritis, among others.
- Stress and anxiety – CBD is an anxiolytic, and it reduces feelings of panic or stress in some patients. It has also been shown to reduce social anxiety behavior in mice.
- Neurological disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis – There have been numerous studies that support the use of CBD for the treatment of seizures, especially in children. CBD also reduces muscle contractions and tremors for those with multiple sclerosis.
- Neuropathic pain (pain from damaged nerves)
- Chronic pain
Medical marijuana is not legal in all states or countries, but CBD can be found as a food supplement in many health stores and pharmacies that sell products containing little to no THC. CBD oils are usually recommended because they’re stronger than CBD pills and capsules, which give you more bang for your buck.
The amount of CBD in medical marijuana is also highly variable, ranging from less than 1% to more than 20%. CBD comes from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and similar enzymes that interact with THC to create cannabinoid molecules. The enzyme CBDA transforms CBGA into CBD.
Clinical trials show that cannabis with a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC can benefit people with chronic pain. For other conditions, the benefits depend on the severity and duration of symptoms. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to medical marijuana treatment.
If you want to use medical marijuana, consult a healthcare professional and research the different strains available. If you choose to, discuss your treatment with a physician who’s familiar with medical marijuana. It is safe and legal in many states and countries, but it may not be covered by insurance, depending on where you live. Research local dispensaries and the laws governing medical marijuana in your area.
Medical marijuana has been used as medicine for thousands of years is a safe and effective alternative to many prescription medications. It also reduces overdose deaths from opiate drugs. In some cases, it’s more effective at controlling symptoms than pharmaceuticals. Therefore, it should be an option for those who want a natural way to treat their symptoms.
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