Phytocannabinoids (Plant-based Medicine)

Hemp/ Cannabis/ Marijuana -- What's the Difference?

I uploaded this very short video because I think overall it’s useful, but I disagree with some of what he says. This video is from 2017 and the industry is moving fast, so it could be considered a bit dated compared to current industry terminology.

Suggestion: watch the video to get a basic understanding, then read below for my input.

Here are my counterpoints to the video above:

  1. Yes they’re the same family of plants, but cannabis has taken over as the preferred term for many cannabis clinicians. This is partially due to the fact that the term “marijuana” has been used in a racist way in America since the early 1900s to incite anti-Mexican sentiment. Since the term itself has been used in such a despicable way (including the phonetic anglicization to “marihuana”), many clinicians who are conscious of prohibition’s racist history have switched to the terms cannabis and industrial hemp.
  2. “CBD is non-psychoactive.” This is false. CBD is non-intoxicating and does not produce the euphoric “high” characteristic of THC, but it IS psychoactive. Psychoactive means that it effects the mind and mood — CBD is known for having anti-anxiety and antidepressant benefits, therefore it IS psychoactive. It just won’t get you “high.”
  3. He also says CBD is safe for everyone. While many people consider this to be true, there can be drug interactions with both THC and CBD, and since cannabis is excellent at cleaning toxins from the soil, if your cannabis has been grown in soil with pesticides, heavy metals, or other toxins, those can show up in your cannabis product.

Phytocannabinoids & Terpenes

Phyto = Plant
Cannabinoids = Chemical components that interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Phytocannabinoids are chemicals from plants (not just cannabis) that act upon receptors in the body.

THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)

THC is the most famous chemical component of cannabis. It is the phytocannabinoid that provides the famous euphoric benefits of cannabis, commonly referred to as “getting high” or being “stoned.”

Scientifically-validated Benefits of THC Include:

  • analgesic (pain-relieving)
  • anti-inflammatory 
    • 20x more anti-inflammatory than aspirin
    • 2x as anti-inflammatory as hydrocortisone
  • antiemetic (stops nausea/ vomiting)
  • antipruritic (anti-itch)
  • antispasmodic (stops spasms)
  • bronchodilator 
  • euphoric 
  • neuroprotective antioxidant

References:

Baron, E. P., Lucas, P., Eades, J., & Hogue, O. (2018). Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 19(1), https://doi.org/10.1186/s10194-018-0862-2

Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x

CBD (cannabidiol)

CBD is quickly becoming a favored medicinal substance due to it’s non-intoxicating effects. It is found in the same plant as THC (cannabis) as well as industrial hemp. While most people find its benefits are enhanced when combined with THC, terpenes, and other phytocannabinoids (i.e. “the entourage effect”), it can be used as an isolate (meaning an isolated chemical substance that is extracted from the plant and then put in a carrier oil).

Not all CBD is created equal however, and there are well-documented problems with products being mislabeled or containing contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, etc.. (Problems were found in products sold both online & in stores.)

Scientifically-validated Benefits of CBD Include:

  • analgesic
  • anti-inflammatory
    • 100s of times more anti-inflammatory than aspirin
  • antidepressant
  • antiemetic
  • anticonvulsant
  • anxiolytic
  • cytotoxic in breast CA
  • cytoprotective in normal cells
  • decreased risk of stroke
  • improved cognition
  • modulates adverse effects of THC (anxiety/ tachycardia/ hunger/ sedation)
  • neuroprotective antioxidant
  • powerful activity against MRSA
  • “CBD appears to attenuate some of these negative side effects of THC when the CBD:THC ratio is at least 8:1 (± 11.1), but may potentiate some of the THC side effects when the CBD:THC ratio is around 2:1” (Baron et al., 2018)

References:

Baron, E. P., Lucas, P., Eades, J., & Hogue, O. (2018). Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 19(1), https://doi.org/10.1186/s10194-018-0862-2

Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x

Additional Resources:

The Minor Cannabinoids

With so many different chemical constituents having been identified in the cannabis plant, it can be hard to keep track of them all. That said, there is ongoing research into many of the other cannabinoids. This should give you an idea of what we currently know.

More information coming soon.

Terpenes

If you’ve studied aromatherapy, you may be familiar with terpenes as the source of many familiar smells. The science of aromatherapy and cannabis therapeutics are closely related, since they are both the study of tiny chemical molecules found in plants. This section should give you an idea of what we currently know regarding terpenes.

More information coming soon.

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