Marijuana is one of those substances that has many myths associated with it. It has been claimed as a cure for almost anything, but has also had various very bad-sounding side effects associated with it. Some people are therefore afraid of using medical marijuana, thinking that it will do very weird things to your body or make you do things that you would normally not want to do. In order to bring some order to this chaos we would like to show you how your body react to medical marijuana and how it can help you.
The first thing you should know is that medical marijuana has two major components: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The former is responsible for the psychoactive effect, whereas the latter is where most of the medicinal properties stem from. It is important to differentiate between the two, because it is possible to choose a cannabis variety that is low in THC, yet high in CBD. It is therefore important to know from which ingredient what effect comes.
Medical marijuana has been used for centuries, with nowadays many studies showing the various medicinal properties of marijuana, most of them linked to CBD. Your body has various so-called cannabinoid receptors in cell membranes throughout your body, such as in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and immune system. The prevalence of these receptors means that medical marijuana can be used to treat a wide range of conditions.
Firstly, looking at THC we see that this ingredient is responsible for many of the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Upon consumption the THC is absorbed into the bloodstream, from where it travels trough the entire body. In the brain the THC binds to specific brain cell receptors, which causes people to feel ‘high’. Other effects of THC include altered senses, changes in mood, impaired memory, difficulty with thinking and impaired body movements. All this is the result of the THC and theses effects last for a short while, typically a few hours. This can however vary from time to time and also depends heavily on your ingestion method. Some methods kick in almost instantly, whereas other methods, such as edibles, will take up to an hour to take effect.
As noted before, CBD is the chemical in marijuana that is responsible for many of the health benefits of marijuana. It does however work slightly differently than THC: instead of binding directly to the receptors it effectively blocks them by lying on top of the receptors. This is also the reason why a strain of marijuana with a high amount of CBD does not have any of the psychoactive effects of a strain high in THC: the CBD blocks the receptors, which ensures that THC cannot do its work. Besides blocking the receptors CBD also works in other ways, such as binding to different kinds of receptors throughout the body.
In terms of medical effects the most important to consider is pain management. Time and time again medical marijuana has been shown to be a very effective pain killer, with a special focus on chronic pain. It can bring pain relief almost instantly, or over a longer period of time and is thus a very suitable replacement for conventional painkillers. Real research on this is however very lacking and most claims are anecdotal instead of actual well-conducted scientific studies. There are however very real stories of people using marijuana and experiencing a real improvement of their conditions. This indicates that medical marijuana could be a very potent way to treat certain diseases, but as always one should be cautious. The real effects, and especially long-term effects, are not well known and mean that you should always consult with your doctor before switching to medical marijuana. It is however very easy to try out medical marijuana, but confirm first with your doctor that is suitable for your condition. If you have the green light then you should start with small dosages and build up from there, in order to start slow and not get overwhelmed by the effects of using marijuana.