Medical Cannabis: Properties, History, Health Benefits, Legislation
Medical cannabis is only one of nature’s innumerable herbs that have gone along with humanity for thousands of years. The cannabis plant is famous for its many different strains with unique profiles of cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. Not only have so many strains, but it also has so many names, such as marijuana, ganja, weed, pot, hash, dope, Mary Jane, and grass, while in the Greek Tekes (hash dens) back in the days, it was called damìra. The use and consumption of cannabis vary according to each state’s culture, the legislation, and last but not least, it depends on human needs.
Therefore, cannabis is a fascinating and unique plant with many different uses applicable to medical/therapeutic/pharmaceutical purposes for recreational or spiritual reasons or even daily for a balanced and healthy diet. In the last years, there have been significant efforts worldwide toward the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis, with brilliant examples such as Canada, Uruguay, the U.S.A., North Africa, Thailand, Cyprus, and more. At this point, it is essential to highlight that in the countries where cannabis is legal, is observed a remarkable development in cannabis products sales, an increase in smart-shops and headshops, not to exclude the seedbanks with a lot of different cannabis strains, Indica, Sativa, and Hybrids.
Medical Cannabis legislation in Greece
In Greece, the legislation defines two strains of cannabis, industrial and medicinal cannabis. The first category contains the species Cannabis Sativa L. strains with less than 0.2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), destined for industrial use. The cannabis products (CBD buds, CBD oils, CBD moisturizing cream, etc.) from these strains are plenty and available to the public. The second category refers to medical cannabis, which contains the strains of Cannabis Sativa L., with more than 0,2% in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The final products of medical cannabis are destined only for medical use.
Concerning the legislation about medical cannabis in Greece, in 2021, has been approved the bill entitled “Production, export, and distribution of final Cannabis products of the type Cannabis Sativa L. with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content more of than 0,2%” aims to simplify the export process of medicinal cannabis final products.
Hence, the new bill is modifying the 2018 legal framework entitled “Provisions for the production of finished medical cannabis products and other provisions”. So far, more than 100) licenses for medical cannabis have been issued in Greece, including Tikun Olam, a company specializing in medical cannabis since 2005, planning professional seminars on cannabis use for medical staff in Greece
Medical Industrial Cannabis: Research
Cannabis is already famous for its various beneficial properties, while each strain, thanks to the unique combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, give different therapeutic effects. It is essential to note that cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most versatile and studied cannabinoids. It is also important to refer that by the progress of the research, the scientists report that there are also other cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), etc., that show to have many benefits for the body of both humans and animals. Even the combination between cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids can have beneficial properties relieving many common symptoms of various disorders, thanks to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and soothing effects.
To date, most of the studies report the beneficial and healing properties of THC, one of the chemical compounds detected in the cannabis plant under the form of THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). This cannabinoid is mainly famous for relieving various symptoms, reducing chronic pain, relieving nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and mild spasticity (loose or tight muscles) in people with multiple sclerosis.
According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the U.S.A, entitled “Therapeutics Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids”, the data collected, up to date, are pretty interesting. It is essential to highlight that the data are coming from the states of Colorado and Oregon, where the use of medical cannabis is legal. The collected results of the research cover common symptoms of various diseases, i.e., spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, nausea, post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, epilepsy, cachexia, anorexia nervosa, psoriasis, insomnia, glaucoma, HIV / AIDS, epilepsy, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. In some cases, the cannabis plant and the cannabinoids show neuro-regenerative, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-emetic, bronchodilator and analgesic effects. At the same time, it seems that cannabinoids seem to have fewer side effects, and they are milder than many other conventional drugs, especially in cases where the administration of the drug lasts for long periods.
Chronic Pain and Medical Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.)
A 2018 research refers to the therapeutic use of cannabidiol in cases concerning inflammatory and neuropathic pain, while the same study shows that the topical use of cannabidiol reduces the pain and inflammation in cases of arthritis. The collected data show that CBD exerts soothing and analgesic effects, especially in cases of chronic pain. Another research pointed out that the cannabis flower that has been used in a vaporizer, reduced chronic pain, while cannabis consumption and CBD oil improved the quality of people’s daily lives. Also, it is worth referring to the sleep process that turned into a beautiful experience.
Additionally, a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Alternative and complementary Medicine reports patients’ preference for different strains of cannabis. The data demonstrated that people with chronic pain used Indica strains to manage the pain and get some sleep, while they used Sativa strains for better mood and energy.
Medical Cannabis and gastrointestinal disorders
We have already referred to previous articles on our blog about gastrointestinal disorders and cannabis use. It is worth highlighting that two cannabinoids, cannabidiol, and tetrahydrocannabinol (CBD and THC), have beneficial properties, while the combination of the two cannabinoids brings positive results to gastrointestinal disorders. Many studies report an inflammation decrease due to the analgesic effects offering the person a better quality of daily activities.
Other studies refer to the beneficial effects of both THC and CBD in gastrointestinal disorders, as they contribute to the balanced function of the digestive system, especially in the case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease, where the results show an appetite regulation, pain, diarrhea, and nausea decrease.
According to a study published in 2011 in the scientific journal European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, cannabis consumption is more often in people with gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders, as they observe that they can manage the symptoms with relieving effects.
Cannabis Sativa L., Cannabinoids and Alzheimer’s disease
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies team published, in June 2016, a research entitled Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, reporting the THC neuroprotective effects. The study shows that the nerve cells that were damaged to produce high levels of β-amyloid mimic some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that high levels of β-amyloid were associated with cellular inflammation and higher rates of neuronal death. Also, the study found that the exposure of the cells to THC tetrahydrocannabinol reduced the levels of the β-amyloid peptide by eliminating the inflammatory response of the nerve cells caused by this protein allowing the nerve cells to survive.
Furthermore, studies suggest that the simultaneous use of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol appears to have medicinal properties, as they suppress the causative factors of Alzheimer’s disease, allowing, at the same time, the nerve cells to survive.
Medical Cannabis (CBD, Cannabidiol) and Stress
The data presented in the scientific journal Neurotherapeutics show that cannabidiol is effective in the decrease of anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, SAD, and OCD. The study also highlights the need for more research on the subject to have even more valid and accurate results.
A study published in 2014 in the scientific journal, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, reports a 75% reduction in the symptoms of people diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after treatment with cannabis. Another analysis, entitled The long-term, prospective, therapeutic impact of cannabis on post-traumatic stress disorder, published in 2020, reports a reduction in the severity of symptoms. More specifically the study refers to lower levels of anxiety, stress, chronic pain, improved sleep quality, and better mood. It is essential to highlight that the same study underlines that participants who mainly used cannabis with a high THC percentage reported a significant decrease in the severity of PTSD symptoms. This study provided evidence that the types of cannabis available in the market for recreational and medical use may in the future be an alternative treatment for PTSD.
Medical Cannabis and fibromyalgia
A recent study published in 2019 reported some exciting results about medical cannabis administered to 211 patients with fibromyalgia for a period of 6 months. The results were spectacular, with 81% of patients reporting a mild improvement in their symptoms without serious side effects, yet they felt less pain and observed an improvement in their daily life quality. Moreover, researchers say that medical cannabis is an effective and safe choice for managing fibromyalgia symptoms. Another earlier study published in 2006 in the scientific journal Current Medical Research and Opinion reported the analgesic effect of THC in 9 patients with fibromyalgia over a period of 3 months. Individuals were consuming a daily dose of 2.5 to 15 mg THC, avoiding using other medicines. The research concludes that all patients reported a significant reduction in their ordinary sense of pain.
Medical Cannabis and migraine
The journal Brain Sciences published a study in 2020 analyzing people that have used inhaled cannabis for extended periods noticing a reduction in migraine frequency. In fact, 61% of the participants reported a more than 50% decrease in monthly migraine attacks after starting cannabis treatment, and most of them almost eliminated the use of conventional anti-migraine medicines. The patient data presented in the annual meeting of 2020 by the American Headache Society presented similar results. More recently, a team of researchers collaborating with the University of New Mexico evaluated the effects of inhaling cannabis buds during migraine episodes. They examined 699 people over a 32-month period. The participants in the study consumed cannabis indoors at their pace, referring to the symptoms in real time through an application. The researchers report that 94% of people experienced relief of symptoms within two hours after inhaling cannabis.
Medical Cannabis and side-effects
Cannabis strains that contain high concentrations of THC (illegal, psychoactive compound) can be used to relieve and soothe various symptoms of many diseases, although they have some side effects that we must take into consideration if we want to get the desired results without any troubles. We should underline that the side effects are temporary and vanish either by stopping the consumption, reducing the dosage, or combining the THC product with a CBD (Cannabidiol) product. Besides, the latter has an anti-psychotic effect and balances the psychoactive substance which is detected in the cannabis plant. In this way, the body system can better enjoy the beneficial properties of both cannabinoids.
Let’s have a brief look at the THC side-effects:
- Coordination problems
- Temporary memory loss
- Red eyes
- Slower reaction times
Cannabidiol (derived from cannabis Sativa L. crops) helps balance the side effects that tetrahydrocannabinol can cause, thanks to its anti-psychotic and analgesic effect, as well as reducing its abuse. In the U.S.A. and specifically in those states where the use of tetrahydrocannabinol is allowed, there are available to the client’s many different kinds of products that contain more than 60% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Thus, many people were found to abuse THC, although they were using cannabis wisely and effectively for whatever personal reason. Such behavior was also causing problems in their daily activities. But nothing lasts forever, and even the side effects reach an end. Cannabidiol (CBD), as research shows, helps reduce this abuse without causing problems for the person due to his abstinence from THC. At the same time, another cannabinoid THCV seems to reduce appetite contributing to weight loss, in contrast to THC, which creates a strong feeling of hunger. All that data demonstrates that the combination of different cannabinoids has beneficial properties for body function.
In conclusion, let’s underline that awareness and care are the cutting edges to proper use when dealing with the beautiful world of herbs.
The same concept applies to medical cannabis. The Cannabis CBD Pharmaceutical Usage Guide is an excellent guide to medical cannabis, its healing properties, its use, cannabidiol dosage, and indications that can be useful to many people. You can download it completely free here, but you can also get it in printed form in our online store, in selected bookstores, or in our physical stores.
At this point, we would like to underline that when taking any medication, it is recommended to inform the physician before using cannabidiol. No herb is a panacea and it is good to use it wisely and correctly.
Need help? Would you like to learn more about medical cannabis and CBD? Do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] reach us on our social media channels, or visit one of our stores.