Cannabis is an herb that has been used as a natural treatment for thousands of years, and can be used in various ways outside of just smoking. However, when considering it as a natural treatment it is important to remember that there are many different strains and only some of them are safe enough to treat and alleviate symptoms (even in children), while others can be used more recreationally.
How Cannabis Works
The leaves, flowers, and buds are harvested to create products with recreational or medicinal properties. Cannabis can be smoked, applied on the skin, cooked in food, and brewed into tea. People use this herb to relax or treat chronic pain. (8)
Cannabis is made up of compounds called cannabinoids, with the primary compounds being THC and CBD. THC, also called Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is psychoactive, whereas CBD, also called cannabidiol, is found in medical cannabis. (4) These compounds move from your stomach or lungs into your bloodstream, through which they reach the brain and act on specific brain receptors that release dopamine and make you feel relaxed. (1)
The main difference between the two compounds is how they bind to CB1 receptors in the brain. TCH can bind perfectly to the receptors, which causes feelings of euphoria, but CBD doesn’t bind as well and is less likely to activate the receptors. TCH, therefore, stimulates the receptors, but CBD suppresses THC’s negative effects. (7)
Research shows that strains containing a high percentage of THC and low percentage of CBD can be dangerous to your mental health as THC can cause psychosis, paranoia, and impair your cognitive abilities. (4) CBD, however, inhibits the harmful effects of THC. In a study, participants received CBD or a placebo orally, and after 3.5 hours, they received THC intravenously. The group that received CBD was less likely to exhibit psychotic symptoms and poor memory than the placebo group.
All cannabis strains have more THC than CBD, but the levels of CBD don’t need to be higher than those of THC to block its effects. High THC strains usually have more than 20% of THC, whereas high CBD strains have more than 4% of CBD. Some THC-high strains include Girl Scout Cookies, Kosher Kush, and Bruce Banner, (10) whereas some of the CBD strains are Charlotte’s Web, Harlequin, and Sour Tsunami. (2) Cannabis products usually include the THC and CBD volume on the package, so be sure to look for that information to get the appropriate strain for you.
Research On CBD
Research shows that CBD has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and it can protect the central nervous system. People use CBD to treat pain in HIV and multiple sclerosis patients, chronic pain, glaucoma, insomnia, anxiety, and nausea after chemotherapy. CBD has also been used to treat seizures for centuries, but modern medicine is not entirely convinced of its effects on epilepsy due to lack of research. (3)
Despite insufficient research, it’s worth noting the case of Charlotte Figi, a girl who started having constant seizures when she was 3 months old and was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, which caused her to have up to 1,200 seizures per month. Her seizures were significantly reduced when her parents decided to treat her with medical cannabis oil and today she’s almost seizure-free.
CBD has also been shown to relieve pain in cancer patients who get inadequate relief from opiates. Patients self-medicated using nasal sprays containing only THC, a combination of THC and CBD, and a placebo for two weeks. The TCH/CBD spray reduced their pain, insomnia, and fatigue more than the other two sprays. (6)
Research also shows that although CBD cannot treat cancer, it has the potential to help with aggressive cancers. A study showed that Id-1, a protein that binds to DNA, regulates the metastasis of breast cancer cells. Through tests on cancer cells and mice, researchers found that CBD has the potential to regulate this protein and reduce the aggressiveness of breast cancer tumors. (9)
How To Make You Own Cannabis Coconut Oil
Cannabis releases its effects only when it’s decarboxylated, which happens when it heats up. (5)
What you’ll need
- One ounce of cannabis buds
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Blender or food processor
- Preheat the oven to 240°F/115°C.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Break up buds into smaller pieces and line them up on the baking sheet leaving no space between the pieces.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing buds every 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven when buds are darker-colored and dried.
- Let them cool completely and coarsely ground them in blender.
When the buds are ready, it’s time to use them for the coconut oil recipe. Coconut oil is ideal for topical application because it’s a carrier oil, meaning that it carries the medicinal substances onto the skin.
What you’ll need
- 1 gram decarboxylated cannabis
- 1 ounce cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
- Glass jar
- Mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Mix ground cannabis and oil in a glass jar and seal with lid.
- Place water and jar in saucepan and heat water on low heat for an hour without boiling.
- Strain oil in a jar to separate it from solids.
- Squeeze leftover solids to get all the oil.
- Store in an airtight glass container.
You can consume the oil as it is, use it in cooking, or apply it topically. You can also use the solids in cooking, but don’t use high heat to avoid damaging its active compounds.
Patients seem to react well to 1 to 20 mg of cannabis oil. This dosage was given daily to 74 children and teenagers for 3 to 6 months according to their body weight to treat epilepsy. The oil improved the seizure frequency in most patients and only 5 patients experienced side effects such as fatigue and gastrointestinal issues. (11)
Laws vary across the U.S., so before you order or buy medical cannabis, make sure to check what rules apply to your state.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here. If you are in pain, consult a medical practitioner to get a prescription for medical marijuana.