Cannabis has been used since ancient times. For instance, we know that it was used in ancient Chinese medicine. The legendary Chinese emperor Shennong, compiled a vast pharmacopoeia, known as ‘The Classic of Herbal Medicine’, with hundreds of herbs for different medical uses. Among those medicinal plants, we can find cannabis sativa.
In addition, it was also in China were cannabis was used as an anesthetic by the Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo (circa 140-208 AD)!
In this blog post, I’m going to list 10 things you should know about cannabis. Let’s dive in!
1. There Are Different Intake Methods
We have written about different intake methods on this blog. Cannabis could be smoked or vaped. Nonetheless, there are also other cannabis products such as tinctures, ingestible oils, edibles or topical delivery methods.
Why edibles and inhalation methods have different effects? It’s simple, when you inhale cannabis (vape it or smoke it) the THC is absorbed in the lungs and it travels directly to your brain, resulting in a faster effect although it lasts for a shorter time compared with edibles.
On the other hand, if you eat cannabis, it’s metabolized in your liver. As Leafly states, the liver metabolizes THC and it is converted to 11-hydroxy-THC which is “particularly effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier and resulting in a longer and more intense high”.
2. Cannabis has Many Properties
It’s true that some of the CBD properties have been exaggerated by many businesses. CBD is not the panacea that some have promoted. However, it has many interesting and promising properties. For example, there are FDA certified CBD drugs to treat epilepsy. We have written about Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 2 years of age and older.
Moreover, cannabis has been researched for its potential anticancer properties. In addition, there are some promising studies in the use of CBD to treat ADHD. Nonetheless, CBD is commonly use in the treatment of anxiety.
3. The Origin of Cannabis
As previously mentioned, cannabis was already used as a medicinal plant in Ancient China. It’s not entirely clear where cannabis is endemic. Nonetheless, most of theories agree that it is endemic to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
There are mainly three cannabis species: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. However, many botanist classify both sativa and indica as the same specie.
Nowadays, cannabis is found everywhere in the world and feral cannabis grows wild in many parts of the US.
4. Cannabis and its Strains
There are many cannabis strains and each one has its own properties. The chemical compounds and terpenes vary from one to another cannabis strain. We can find strains that are rich in CBD while other are rich in THC. However, don’t forget that there are many other cannabinoids that we shouldn’t ignore. There are many promising studies about the properties of other not so well-known cannabinoids such as CBG (often referred as “mother of the cannabinoids”), CBC (a cannabinoid that reduces inflammation) or CBN (a cannabinoid that may have neuro-protective properties).
In addition, terpenes may have medicinal properties. Nowadays, terpenes are mainly used in aromatherapy, which is considered a pseudo-science. However, terpenes are been studied for their anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties. Furthermore, terpenes are studied for their potential anti-carcinogenic properties.
There are many terpenes in cannabis and some of the most common ones are pinene, limonene, linalool, humulene and caryophyllene.
5. Many Cannabis Products: tinctures, oils, buds, creams
It seems overwhelming to choose among all the cannabis products. Should I smoke it, vape it? Or is it better to try tinctures or edibles? As mentioned above, edibles and inhaling methods don’t have the same effects. Edibles are absorbed in the liver while inhaling methods such as vaping enter the blood stream faster resulting in a rapid, although short, effect.
The delivery method is important depending on the effect that you’re looking for. If you look for a more intense and longer effect, then edibles is a good option for you. On the other hand, inhaling it is faster and last for a shorter time, which is suitable for users who prefer a shorter and faster experience.
6. Different Extracting Methods
The extracting method matters. A solventless extraction method is not the same as a solvent extraction method. There are “natural” methods such as bubble hash and also non-solvent methods that are very effective and clean such as CO2 extraction of cannabinoids.
A CO2 extraction method is very effective. It consists of using high pressure CO2 (supercritical CO2) as a solvent. Supercritical CO2 has both the properties of a gas and the properties of a liquid.
To make cannabis oil, a solvent is often used to extract cannabinoids from the plant. The most common solvents for this process are usually ethanol and butane.
7. Cannabinoids and the Entourage Effect
The Entourage effect is a theory that claims that cannabinoids are more effective when they “act” together. It’s important to emphasize that the entourage effect hasn’t been scientifically proved yet. Nonetheless, we know that CBD helps to reduce anxiety and psychosis caused by THC.
Apparently, patients who use CBD or THC isolates experience fewer effects than those who use plant-based medicines with both THC and CBD and other cannabinoids.
8. Side Effects of Cannabis
There are some side effects associated with cannabis. For example, if you use THC products, then you should avoid driving or doing other activities that require full attention.
Firstly, let’s emphasize that it’s impossible to overdose with cannabis products. However, long term use of cannabis products may have some side effects. For example, THC users may experience memory short memory loss. In people with a predisposition to develop mental disorders, the abuse of THC can trigger the onset of cannabis-induced psychosis.
CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t cause many side effects. As THC, CBD can cause dry mouth and drowsiness. In addition, some people may experience a lower heart rate.