5 Surprising Facts About Medical Cannabis & Cannabinoids

Figuring out how to best medical cannabis for your unique condition can be tricky. Here are 5 need-to-know facts to help you with the process.

May 30, 2016

There’s a lot to know about cannabis. The first time you step into a dispensary, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed by all of the choices and products out there. How do you figure out which one is best for you? Here are five surprising facts about medical cannabis and cannabinoids that may help clear up some confusion about the herb. 

1. Cannabis is great for certain kinds of pain

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If you accidentally burn your arm,  smoking/ vaping marijuana probably won’t help take away the nagging pain. But, if you’re suffering from inflammatory pain or neuropathic pain (pain from damaged nerve cells), the herb might be the exact medication you’ve been looking for. Cannabis is great for chronic pain, but not so great for acute pain.

However, if you sprain your ankle, a cannabis topical can also work wonders. Just don’t apply it to an open wound. Topicals work fantastically on old injuries that have pain flare-ups. They also are miracle workers when it comes to arthritis and muscle pain.

2. Different tokes for different folks

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The world of medical cannabis is vast. Not all people respond to the same types of medical cannabis. Some conditions are better controlled with high-THC marijuana strains. Others will be much more effectively managed with nonpsychoactive CBD. Even people with the same medical conditions may have completely distinct experiences with different cannabinoids. The trick is figuring out which types of marijuana work best at managing your unique symptoms.

Some quick tips: if you’re just starting out and don’t have a specific treatment plan, begin with a strain that’s fairly balanced between THC and CBD. Keep track of how that particular strain impacted your symptoms. If it’s not working well for you, consider a strain with either a higher THC to CBD ratio, or vice versa. Note any changes after switching dominant cannabinoids.

As always, these are just a few informational tips and not medical advice. Work with a medical professional to help you evaluate how cannabis is impacting your condition.

3. Have heart problems? Cannabis may not be for you

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Cannabis, especially THC, can increase your heart rate. This is not good for people with heart conditions or high blood pressure. A study published in 2014 linked increased cannabis use to increased cardiovascular disorders. Not everyone who consumes cannabis is going to develop heart trouble by any means, but if you have a susceptibility to cardiovascular issues or you are currently suffering from a heart condition, be extremely cautious.

However, the heart rate increase has only been correlated with smoked/vaporized/edible marijuana thus far. Virtually no research has been done on the impacts of incorporating raw cannabis into your diet or whether eating raw cannabis has the same impacts on the heart. Which bring us to our next point.

4. Eating raw cannabis is a thing

If you don’t enjoy the mind-altering effects of THC, there is another option for you: dietary cannabis. Dietary cannabis is non-psychoactive, raw marijuana. In order for marijuana to be “active”, you have to apply heat. In raw cannabis, THC and CBD are actually bound up in their precursor acid forms, known as THCA and CBDA.

Fan leaves and fresh buds are often used in green juices or smoothies. Many people with a wide variety of medical conditions have found success by incorporating raw cannabis into their diets. Thus far, anecdotal reports claim that those with conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis, endometriosis, and autoimmune conditions had drastic improvements by simply drinking raw cannabis juices and smoothies. Just watch the video above!

5. Less is more

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There’s a new buzzword going around the cannabis community: Micro-dosing. Microdosing is when you take the least amount of cannabis necessary to achieve the desired medical effect. There are a few reasons for this. THC often works well up to a certain level, and then its positive effects begin to taper off.

Let’s look at depression as an example. Back in 2007, researchers at McGill University tested THC’s antidepressant effects in rats. They found that in small doses, THC increased the amount of serotonin and acted as a potent antidepressant. But, in large doses, it actually had the opposite effect. Serotonin in the THC-treated rats dropped below those of the untreated controls.

Of course, the amount of medical cannabis you need is dependent on your particular condition. It’s going to be different for everyone. In the case of depression, looking at serotonin alone also may not be the best signifier of effective antidepressant treatment. So, there’s quite a bit of uncertainty when it comes to dosing.

Microdosing may also help prevent you from quickly building up a tolerance to THC, which then makes it’s medicinal powers less effective.

As mentioned before, there’s a lot to the world of medical cannabis. A quality dispensary or access point will be able to help you navigate the wide range of products and strains available. Above all else, know that what may be effective for one person may not work for you. Working with a doctor and paying close attention to how cannabis impacts your symptoms will help you find the best options for your needs.

Do you know any other surprising facts about medical marijuana? What should people know? Share your thoughts with us on social media or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

May 30, 2016