There’s a lot more to the cannabis plant than meets the eye. So often, people dismiss the herb due to the public perception that it makes you lazy or causes anxiety. Yet, that’s only a small portion of what cannabis can offer to the world. Even some die-hard herb lovers sometimes fail to see the incredible potential of the plant. To spread some knowledge, here are 10 things everyone needs to understand about cannabis.
1. Not all cannabis is the same
There are a few comments touted by those who are anti-cannabis. It’s not uncommon to hear things like, “I tried it before and it just made me feel lazy” or, “I used it once in college and it just made me anxious”. While these experiences are valid, they are far from a complete picture of the cannabis plant.
Cannabis comes in many different varieties with varying effects. There are even two distinct species of cannabis sold in medical and recreational shops today. Cannabis indica is responsible for the sleepy, sedative effects associated with the herb. Indicas are often used to combat insomnia and anxiety.
Cannabis sativa has the opposite effect. Sativas are energizing and often used to combat chronic fatigue and depression. There are also nonpsychoactive and low psychoactive varieties of cannabis. These types will provide very different effects from their high-THC counterparts. THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.
The point being, with all this variation, it’s unrealistic to lump all cannabis products into one category. What you may experience with one type of cannabis, you may not experience at all with another. Further, the herb affects everyone differently. So, success with cannabis is really about finding the right herb for you personally.
2. Nonpsychoactive cannabis provides an entirely different experience
Believe it or not, you can find cannabis that is completely nonpsychoactive. High-CBD, low-THC cannabis strains do not have any of the mind-altering effects commonly connected with the herb. Rather, they provide a mellow, calm, and relaxed sensation without any cognitive effects.
Many cannabis lovers enjoy using high-CBD strains during the day and save more potent varieties for after work or during leisure time. In a way, these high-CBD strains are sort of like a very potent chamomile tea. They provide similar mood-lifting and mildly sedative effects without interfering with function.
Those who are interested in cannabis but struggle with THC may find that CBD strains are a better fit. This is just another example of why we should not lump all cannabis products into one basket. Thanks to years of careful cultivation and natural variation, the same plant can produce wildly different experiences.
3. Dosing is important
If you are using cannabis as a treatment for a medical condition, it may be worthwhile to do a little research on suggested doses for your specific ailment. Cancer patients, for example, often take up to 1 gram of high-THC cannabis oil each day. Yet, someone with depression may find that low to moderate doses of THC best manages their symptoms.
Though research on cannabis dosage for specific conditions is lacking, there is some evidence that some of the medicinal effects of THC are present in lower doses, but not present in higher doses. Though, to date, these studies have been completed in animal models.
Some research suggests that for depression and anxiety, lower doses of the psychoactive may be preferable.
However, in other conditions the opposite is true. As of right now, higher doses of THC are thought to be more effective in cancer treatment. Unfortunately, without proper condition-specific guidelines, it’s up to the patient to figure out what dose is most therapeutic for them individually.
4. Tolerance breaks are a good thing
No one likes taking a tolerance break. To be honest, they totally suck. But, they’re important. After a while, your body gets used to getting a regular dose of THC or CBD. When this happens, you lose sensitivity to the compound.
For recreational users, tolerance means that you’ll have to use more and more herb to get the same effects. For medical consumers, tolerance can be detrimental. The more tolerant you become to THC, the less effective it will be at managing your symptoms.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. A tolerance break is simply taking a short break from cannabis. Typically people hold off for a few days to a week. But, if this sounds too awful, there is an alternative. Simply switch dominant cannabinoids.
If you typically go for high-THC strains, do the opposite and only consume high-CBD, low-THC strains for a week or two. CBD and THC interact with your body in different ways. Switching it up prevents your body from becoming too accustomed to one particular input.
5. All parts of the plant can be used
Cannabis is often cultivated for its flowers. Yet, the entire plant is useful. Fan leaves can be used in juices and smoothies like any other leafy green. It has an added bonus of being rich in cannabinoid acids, which are non-psychoactive. They are also loaded with other phytochemicals, vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds.
Many people save dried cannabis stems to make a relaxing tea. After you chop down a plant for harvest, the stalk can be buried in the earth. It eventually breaks down and provides nutrients to the soil.
Hemp root has been used as medicine for centuries. It can be ground into a paste to use on sprains and breaks. Hemp root tea has also been used as a treatment for rheumatoid diseases and gout. It also contains phytochemicals that help the body remove toxins. For more info on the uses of hemp root, check out our article here.
6. This herb ain’t new
Today, the safety of cannabis is constantly under question. Yet, it’s only in recent history that the herb has been considered dangerous. In fact, the herb has been used in traditional medicine since 2,737 B.C.E. Though we have now discovered and named the active cannabis compounds, our ancestors had this plant figured out long before we did.
Between 100 and 200, Egyptians had even discovered that cannabis is useful in treating tumors. The Fayum Medical Papyrus, an early Egyptian medical text, is thought to contain the first reference to cannabis as a cancer treatment.
It’s only in the past century that we have lost this cultural knowledge in favor of pharmaceutical drugs.
7. Recreational cannabis has positive benefits
Despite all the hubbub, researchers have been hard pressed to prove that recreational cannabis is harmful. The has a much higher margin of safety than alcohol or tobacco. The claims that moderate cannabis use harms the brain or the lungs are also unsubstantiated thus far.
Though, there may be risks for teens as their brains are still developing. Long-term smoking is also not the healthiest thing you can do. If you are a regular consumer, you may want to switch to a vape.
Surprisingly to some, cannabis may actually improve brain health. There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests that cannabis has neuroprotective properties. Compounds in the herb are one of a handful of substances that promote the growth of new brain cells, which may be highly beneficial for aging adults.
States with cannabis reform have also seen a drop in opioid prescriptions. They have lower opioid overdose rates than states without cannabis programs as well. As we are in the middle of a massive heroin epidemic, this is positive news that cannabis reform can have a positive impact on public health.
8. Cannabis may be more beneficial to older adults
As mentioned earlier, there’s evidence that cannabis may be helpful for maintaining brain health as we age. But, that’s not the only reason why older adults may benefit from the herb. Cannabis contains potent antioxidant compounds.
These compounds protect the body from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has many causes, including environmental pollutants and UV exposure over time.
The more stress we are exposed to, the faster we age. As a nutritious plant, cannabis is loaded with vitamins and phytochemicals which protect against day to day environmental damage. Though it is no elixir of youth, all of these compounds can reduce the amount of cellular and DNA damage that accrues in daily life. This can help us age with grace.
We’ve written a whole series on cannabis and aging. Take a look at some of the articles here.
9. Cannabinoids may be the coolest compounds ever
CBD and THC are just two of the phytochemicals in the cannabis plant. These phytochemicals are called cannabinoids, and they are a special type of compound that only some plants produce.
Echinacea, the common homeopathic treatment for colds and the flu, also contains cannabinoids. These compounds directly engage with cells in our body to produce a wide range of effects.
Cannabis doesn’t only impact your brain. Rather, cannabinoids bind to cell receptors in the following areas:
- Digestive system
- Immune system
- Reproductive system
- Central nervous system
This means that the active compounds in cannabis can have a wide range of bodily effects. The fact that these compounds interact with so many regions of the body is partly what gives them so much medical value.
10. It’s just a herb
The sad thing is, many people today are still afraid of a plant. Perhaps even more unfortunate, they are afraid of a plant that may be one of the most therapeutic herbs on the planet. In less than one short century, we have undone thousands of years of traditional pharmacology.
While the advances in modern medicine and technology have dramatically improved our lives, perhaps now it’s time we realize that there may be some value in what nature has to offer as well.