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Medical Marijuana: Separating The Science From The Myths

 

 

 

Marijuana Plant Leaf

The global interest in medical marijuana is growing at a rapid pace. Some countries are slow to catch up, but the trend is strong, nonetheless, as evidenced by the presence of numerous Medical Marijuana Dispensaries popping up all over the world. 

With the growing attention in medical marijuana, available information about it has not kept up. There is not enough research available that could fully utilize the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. It does not help that the DEA is still refusing to remove medical marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs. 

It prevents scientists from doing substantial research on medical marijuana to unleash its true potential for the benefit of suffering patients all over the world. Out of the few studies scientists managed to conduct, here are some of the facts gathered so far:

Difference Between Medical Marijuana And Recreational Marijuana

Recreational marijuana and those from Medical Marijuana Dispensaries both come from the plant - cannabis. But while the recreational type is obtained from a plant variety high in tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, medical marijuana comes from the hemp plant, a variety that has higher concentrations of cannabidiol or CDB, and only trace amounts of THC. Which leads to the question: what are THC and CBD?

There are over 450 chemicals from the marijuana plant, and a small subset of those are the active substances called cannabinoids. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, but only THC is psychoactive or has the ability to induce the feeling of “high.” CBD, on the other hand, is attributed to medicinal benefits in humans and even some animals which share biological similarities.

How Do THC And CBD Affect The Body?

The human body, and some animals, for that matter, has an internal communication system called the endocannabinoid system or ECS. It consists of the cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes, all working together to control the flow of information to the brain and helps regulate several bodily functions such as metabolism, sensations of pain, immunity, sleep, and many others.

What is unique about the ECS is that it works differently than all the other neurotransmitters in the brain and body. While the regular signal transmitted in the brain originates from the presynaptic cells, travels through the synapse gap, and then attaches to receptors in the postsynaptic cells, the ECS works in reverse. It means that when the postsynaptic neuron is triggered, it starts creating cannabinoids out of the fat cells around it, which then travel “in reverse” to the presynaptic neurons. In essence, the cannabinoids act as a damper for presynaptic neurons, affecting how signals are communicated throughout the body.

THC from marijuana mimics the natural cannabinoid in the body. And when it is inhaled, the high amounts of THC floods the ECS, hijacking cannabinoid receptors in the brain and throughout the body, stimulating the cells to release a large amount of dopamine. It manifests in various ways from the reduction of reflexes, impaired memory, to the “high” sensation many are aware of. 

On the other hand, CBD does not interact with the receptors. Instead, it stimulates the ECS to produce more natural cannabinoids and prevents them from breaking down by inhibiting the FAAH enzyme.

The Outlook For CBD

There are things now known about CBD, but there are still many things we don’t. For one, the exact process by which CBD delivers its medicinal benefits is still not widely studied. And with the restriction on CBD still in effect, the growing number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries would still be not enough to meet the needs of patients. Unless the global interest in CBD grows big enough to compel the decision-makers to make drastic changes.


 

 

 

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