Health Benefits Of Cannabis, According To Experts

Cannabis is experiencing a surge in popularity as an increasing number of states embrace its legalization for either medical or recreational purposes. Despite its growing acceptance at the state level, cannabis remains prohibited federally. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains its stance on federal illegality, a perspective that some medical experts and researchers find contentious.

In the midst of this evolving landscape, there is a growing body of evidence supporting cannabis as a legitimate and safe therapeutic substance, especially when used judiciously under expert supervision. While the need for more peer-reviewed clinical research is evident, numerous studies highlight the potential of cannabis in treating various medical conditions. From chronic pain management to alleviating symptoms associated with certain diseases, cannabis is gaining recognition for its diverse therapeutic applications.

Exploring the perspectives of industry experts provides valuable insights into the nuanced discussions surrounding cannabis use. As attitudes and regulations continue to shift, understanding the medical conditions for which cannabis can offer relief and staying informed about expert opinions contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of cannabis and its evolving role in healthcare.

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Binoid CBD Oil For Daytime – Immune Boost 1000mg

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What Is Cannabis?

Cannabis sativa, commonly known as cannabis, is a complex plant belonging to the Cannabaceae family. Comprising approximately 540 chemical compounds, it includes over 100 cannabinoids, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the most prominent.

The term “marijuana” generally refers to components of the cannabis plant that boast substantial THC content. In contrast, hemp denotes components with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, as stipulated by the federal U.S. government.

THC is the compound responsible for the intoxicating and psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. It induces sensations of euphoria, reduced anxiety, and increased relaxation. The interaction of THC and other cannabinoids in cannabis plants with the endocannabinoid system is key to these psychoactive effects. This system, overseen by Daniele Piomelli, Ph.D., who directs the Center for the Study of Cannabis at the University of California, Irvine, regulates pain, appetite, and the body’s response to stress.

Potential Health Benefits of Cannabis

Potential Health Benefits of Cannabis Recent research provides compelling evidence for various potential health benefits associated with cannabis containing THC, distinct from CBD-exclusive formulations.

  1. Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several prescription drugs that incorporate synthetic substances akin to THC to alleviate the adverse side effects commonly associated with cancer chemotherapy. Medications such as Marinol and Syndros, both containing dronabinol (synthetic THC), are employed to address nausea and vomiting. Additionally, Cesamet, featuring nabilone, another synthetic substance resembling THC, is utilized for managing nausea, vomiting, as well as loss of appetite and weight in HIV/AIDS patients.
  2. Managing Multiple Sclerosis Spasticity: Sativex, an oral spray available by prescription, contains both THC and CBD and is utilized in 25 countries to alleviate muscle stiffness and spasms resulting from multiple sclerosis. In Canada, Sativex serves as an adjunctive treatment for adult patients who haven’t adequately responded to other therapies and have shown meaningful improvement during an initial trial. In the U.S., Sativex is undergoing testing as a potential treatment for adults dealing with multiple sclerosis spasticity.
  3. Addressing Chronic Pain: Research from 2022 indicates that medications combining THC and CBD can be effective in treating chronic pain, particularly neuropathic pain, nociceptive pain, and nociplastic pain. These combinations of cannabinoids are reported to be more easily tolerated, safer, and less addictive compared to opioid-based analgesics.
  4. Improving Sleep Quality: Studies conducted in 2018 and 2014 suggest a positive association between dronabinol (synthetic THC) and improved sleep metrics in individuals with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Participants experienced a reduction in breathing interruptions during sleep, with a higher dose performing better than lower doses and a placebo. These findings point to the potential of THC in enhancing sleep quality.
  5. Additional Health Benefits: According to Krissy Bernazani, a registered pharmacist and clinical director at the medical cannabis dispensary Zen Leaf Maryland, common health and wellness needs addressed with cannabis include migraine, neuropathy, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Many medical cannabis patients turn to cannabis after finding insufficient relief with traditional pharmaceuticals, highlighting its potential as an alternative therapeutic option.

Potential Health Risks of Cannabis

While health care providers and cannabis experts emphasize that the overall safety profile of cannabis differs from many other drugs, including legal pharmaceuticals, it is important to recognize that cannabis use can entail both short-term and long-term effects, varying among different populations based on the type and quantity of cannabis consumed.

Side Effects: Consuming excessive amounts of THC, a prominent cannabinoid in cannabis, can lead to various side effects, including panic, anxiety, drowsiness, dry mouth, impaired motor function, elevated heart rate, and dizziness. Dr. Piomelli notes that adverse side effects are more prevalent in women. In some cases, inexperienced users may experience vomiting, a condition that can be alleviated with a hot shower or by applying hot chili pepper ointment to the skin.

Smoking Risks: Smoking cannabis, like any combustible substance, poses risks for individuals with pulmonary diseases. Combining cannabis with tobacco exposes individuals to the additional risks associated with tobacco use, such as lung, head, and neck cancer. Dr. Brooke Worster, Chief Medical Consultant at Ethos Cannabis and Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University, highlights the potential dangers of combining cannabis and tobacco.

Vulnerable Populations: Adolescents engaging in regular cannabis use may face uncertainties regarding the potential long-term effects on their bodies and brains, warns Dr. Piomelli. Limited clinical data also exists regarding the impact of general cannabis use on pregnant individuals and their fetuses. Although smoking cannabis is associated with smaller fetal size, the causative factor—whether it’s smoking itself or cannabis—is unclear. Dr. Piomelli advises against regular cannabis use in both adolescent and pregnant populations.

Additionally, THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, may exacerbate symptoms of schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis in individuals predisposed to such psychological conditions.

Drug Interactions: Cannabis can interact with other medications, leading to adverse effects. This is particularly relevant for drugs with a “narrow therapeutic index,” including warfarin (a commonly prescribed blood thinner), certain chemotherapy agents, anti-seizure medications, and anti-rejection medications used after transplant surgery. Krissy Bernazani warns that drugs with a narrow therapeutic index are sensitive to small differences in dose or blood concentration, which can result in serious therapeutic failures or life-threatening reactions. It is crucial for individuals to be aware of potential drug interactions when using cannabis alongside other medications.

How Sourcing Can Affect Cannabis Quality

Ensuring the safety and quality of cannabis consumption requires careful attention to the source from which one obtains their cannabis products. Dr. Worster emphasizes the importance of obtaining cannabis from regulated state dispensaries, as they provide a higher level of reliability regarding the composition and quality of the products. State-regulated dispensaries are mandated to conduct testing and labeling, providing consumers with crucial information about the contents of the products they purchase. In contrast, buying cannabis products online, from retail food stores, or other non-regulated sources lacks the same level of quality control, posing risks of undisclosed harmful ingredients or substances such as butane, propane, and brodifacoum.

National cannabis provider Verano serves as a notable example of the standard of quality and transparency consumers should seek when purchasing cannabis products. George Archos, founder and CEO of Verano, highlights their commitment to maintaining clarity, consistency, and quality across the 13 states where they operate. Verano employs a seed-to-sale operation, choosing to clone existing cannabis plants rather than growing from new seeds each time to ensure consistency in products derived from these plants.

To further guarantee the quality of their products, Verano subjects all items to chemical testing conducted by third-party, state-accredited laboratories. These tests assess THC, CBD, and other cannabinoid levels while disclosing the presence of heavy metals, pesticides, and molds. Verano takes transparency a step further by publicly sharing comprehensive reports of these test results in documents known as certificates of analysis (COAs), providing consumers with detailed insights into the safety and composition of each product they offer. This level of transparency exemplifies the commitment to consumer safety and product quality that individuals should seek when choosing their cannabis sources.

A Word of Caution

The landscape of cannabis farming and product manufacturing currently operates without federal guidelines, and regulations for medical and recreational use vary from state to state. This lack of standardized oversight has resulted in differing levels of product quality and raised concerns about safety within the cannabis industry.

To ensure the best and safest experience, experts recommend visiting licensed dispensaries and engaging with budtenders – knowledgeable cannabis professionals employed at these dispensaries. Mack Hueber, President of the New York-based cannabis beverage company Ayrloom and Chief Financial Officer of its parent company Beak & Skiff, emphasizes the value of consulting budtenders. According to Hueber, these experts are well-versed in the brands they carry and have comprehensive knowledge about the diverse products available. Budtenders can work directly with customers, understanding their individual reasons for cannabis consumption, and guide them in selecting products that align with their preferences and needs. Seeking the expertise of budtenders at licensed dispensaries ensures a more informed and tailored approach to cannabis consumption, promoting a safer and more enjoyable experience.

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