from TheConversation Website
Yet the federal
FDA) still insists marijuana has no legal use
and is easy to abuse. In the meantime, medical marijuana
dispensaries have an increasing array of products available for
pain, anxiety, sex and more.
Many strains for sale have evocative and magical names like Blue Dream, Bubba Kush and Chocolope...
a Chumash who shared
Californian Native American
cultural knowledge with anthropologists
in the 1800s.
I have lived in California a long time and remember the Haight-Ashbury Summer of Love. While in graduate school, I worked with professor Alexander Shulgin, the father of designer drugs, who taught me the chemistry of medicinal plants.
She taught me how to make
medicines from Californian plants, but not marijuana, which is not
native to the U.S. Currently, I am teaching a course in medical
marijuana to pharmacy students.
But can marijuana really be used for medical conditions?
The most well-known is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Marijuana is a particularly rich source of medicinal compounds that we have only begun to explore.
In order to harness the full potential of the compounds in this plant, society needs to overcome misconceptions about marijuana and look at what research clearly says about the medical value.
a Kush cannabis plant.
Dronabinol and nabilone are cannabinoids that are used for nausea.
Nabiximols - which contain THC, the compound most responsible for marijuana's high and cannabidiol, which does not induce a high - are used to treat multiple sclerosis.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is
also used to treat
some types of epilepsy.
THC is the cannabinoid
everyone wants in order to get high. It is produced from THC acid -
which constitutes up to 25 percent of the plant's dry weight - by
smoking or baking any part of the marijuana plant.
Anandamide attaches to proteins in the brain called cannabinoid receptors, which then send signals related to pleasure, memory, thinking, perception and coordination, to name a few.
THC works by hijacking
these natural cannabinoid receptors, triggering a profound high.
Potent varieties like Doug's Varin and Tangie may contain even higher concentrations.
Cannabidiol, a cannabinoid similar to THC, and its acid are also present in marijuana, especially in certain varieties. But these do not cause euphoria.
The cannabidiol molecule
interacts with a variety of receptors - including cannabinoid and
serotonin receptors and transient receptor potential action channels
reduce seizures, combat anxiety and
produce other effects.
Other terpenes such as pinene, linalool, limonene and the sesquiterpene, beta-caryophyllene are pain relievers, especially when applied directly to the skin as a liniment.
Some of these terpenes may add to the high when marijuana is smoked.
oils or lotions made from cannabis
may be a better choice.
What do all these
The FDA has no oversight for these claims, since the FDA does not recognize marijuana as a legal product. Strains of marijuana are grown that produce more THC than cannadidiol or vice versa. Other varieties have abundant monoterpenoids.
How do you know that the strain you choose is legitimate with probable medical benefits?
Each strain should have a certificate of analysis that shows you how much of each active compound is present in the product you buy. Many states have a bureau of cannabis control that verifies these certificates of analysis.
However, many certificates of analysis do not show the monoterpenoids present in the marijuana. The analysis of monoterpenoids is difficult since they evaporate from the plant material.
If you are looking for a strain high in myrcene or linalool, ask for proof.
It can be treated by
rubbing a cream made from
capsaicin, from chili peppers, on
the abdomen. Capsaicin cream is available in pharmacies.
For some of these
conditions, studies show that eating or topically applying marijuana
products rather than smoking is recommended.
This makes funding for research on marijuana difficult to find. Perhaps the cannabis industry should consider funding scientific research on marijuana.
But conflicts of interest
may become a concern as we have seen with
drug company-sponsored studies.