What is Medical Marijuana?
Cannabis has been at the center of one of the most exciting developments in modern science. Research on marijuana’s effects led directly to the discovery of a previously unknown biochemical communication system in the human body, the Endocannabinoid System, which plays an important role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience. Endocannabinoid receptors respond to cannabinoid compounds that our own bodies make, and they respond to cannabis.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved marijuana as medicine. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of research—much of it sponsored by the US Government—showing that cannabis contains compounds that may help treat a range of illnesses or symptoms, generally by working on the Endocannabinoid System.
Cannabinoids and other components in cannabis can modulate many systems in the human brain and body. More than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in the marijuana plant. Of these marijuana molecules, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been studied most extensively.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol or CBD is a component of the cannabis plant with enormous therapeutic potential. Although it doesn’t make people feel high like THC, CBD is causing quite a buzz among scientists, health professionals, and medical marijuana patients who are using CBD-rich products to treat a wide range of conditions—including chronic pain, cancer, Crohn’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, PTSD, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, antibiotic-resistant infections, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and more. Academic research centers around the world are currently studying the effects of CBD on these and other ailments.
Scientists refer to CBD as a “promiscuous” compound because it confers therapeutic benefits in many different ways while tapping into how we function physiologically and biologically on a deep level. Extensive preclinical research and some clinical studies have shown that CBD has strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral, and neuroprotective qualities. Cannabidiol can change gene expression and remove beta amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, from brain cells.