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HEALTH EFFECTS

What is medical cannabis?

 

Medical marijuana is the medical use of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant to relieve symptoms of, or treat diseases and conditions. The Cannabis plant has been  used medically for centuries around the world until the early 1900s.

 

Even though some medical benefits of medical cannabis may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, recent research has demonstrated that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and strong reasons to continue studying the drug's medicinal uses. There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving properties and is largely responsible for the high. In addition to CBD and THC, there are another 400 or so chemical compounds, more than 60 of which are cannabinoids. Many of these could have medical uses.

 Effects of cannabis on the human body

For most of history, the effects of cannabis on the human body were little understood. Scientists began to realize cannabis exerted its effects, in part, by mimicking our endocannabinoids, enzymes produced by the human body for different function. The main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain bodily homeostasis—biological harmony in response to changes in the environment. The endocannabinoid system is formed by both cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids that interact in the same way as a lock and its key. The endocannabinoid system gets involved in a wide variety of physiological processes i.e. the modulation of the release of neurotransmitters, the regulation of the perception of pain, as well as cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and hepatic functions. Endocannabinoids are arguably one of the most widespread and versatile signaling molecules known to man. 

The benefits of medical marijuana can be attributed to binding to the endocannabinoid system. This has many effects including

  • modulating the immune system,

  • promoting neuroplasticity,

  • emotional and cognitive modulation including learning and motivation, appetite, vascular function, and digestive function.