Why does medical marijuana work? What is it about the cannabis plant that allows it to help so many people who are suffering from physical and mental conditions? And how can you make medical marijuana work even better for you? Let’s take a closer look at the cannabis plant and the human body to find out.
The Relationship between the Endocannabinoid System and Cannabinoids
In the 1990s, scientists discovered what is now referred to as the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is comprised of endogenous cannabinoids (a diverse group of naturally produced chemical compounds) and cannabinoid receptors (binding sites on the surface of many types of cells), and it’s found in every animal.
Cannabinoid receptors can be found in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, cerebellum, putamen, hypothalaumus, amygdala, and other areas of the body. These receptors can accept or bind with certain cannabinoids. Think of this relationship like a lock and key where cannibinoids are the keys and the cannabinoid receptors throughout the body are the locks. Specific keys can open specific locks.
When a cannabinoid binds to a cannabinoid receptor in the body, it triggers one or more events which change the cell’s activity or gene regulation, or it changes the signals that the cell sends to other cells. The primary cannabinoid receptors can bind with (or be unlocked by) three types of cannabinoids:
- Endocannabinoids: Naturally produced in the body
- Phytocannabinoids: Naturally produced in the cannabis plant
- Synthetic cannabinoids: Artificially manufactured, such as in a laboratory
Researchers have discovered that the phytocannabinoids (like THC and CBD) found in the cannabis plant can bind with cannabinoid receptors in the body and provide a variety of therapeutic benefits to patients suffering from a long list of medical conditions. For example, medical marijuana can help:
- Anxiety and stress
- Cognitive function
- Immune function
- And more
Furthermore, the cannabis plant includes chemical compounds called terpenes and flavonoids that scientists believe increase the therapeutic effect of medical marijuana. More research is needed to get a full understanding of how medical marijuana works and how the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in the cannabis plant work together in synergy to deliver documented therapeutic effects, but we do have enough evidence for medical professionals to confidently recommend medical marijuana to their patients in many circumstances.
The Effects of Medical Marijuana Delivery and Consumption Methods
The methods patients use to consume medical marijuana have an effect on how it works. Some of the most common consumption methods are smoking, vaping, using tinctures, and eating edibles, and depending on your symptoms, you might choose one delivery method over another.
Vaporizing cannabis is a popular consumption method which enables the cannabinoids to enter the blood stream quickly through the lungs with fewer unhealthy disadvantages that people get from smoking. However, the effects of those cannabinoids last for the shortest amount of time when they’re inhaled.
Tinctures can be very effective because they allow patients to place liquid drops under their tongues for quick sublingual absorption into the bloodstream. Consuming medical marijuana through tinctures allows the most cannabinoids to quickly get where they need to go in the body to do their jobs without being metabolized by the body first.
Topical and transdermal delivery methods allow people to absorb cannabinoids through their skin to target a specific area of the body while edibles are ingested by mouth through the digestive system and can include candies, drinks, cookies, or any other type of edible a cannabis chef creates.
Bottom-line, the consumption method affects the absorption of cannabinoids into the body, which is why certain forms of consumption are better than others depending on a patient’s symptoms.
The same is true of cannabis strains. That’s why cultivators develop new strains based on the chemical and genetic makeup of different cannabis plants. They’re goal is to target specific therapeutic results based on the proven effects of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Make Medical Marijuana Work for You by Working with Your Doctor and Compassion Care Technician
The key to successfully getting the effects you want from medical marijuana is to talk to your doctor and compassion care technician. Learn how to explain your condition and symptoms, and take that information to your compassion care technician who can discuss the various strains that could help you as well as the best consumption methods for your symptoms and lifestyle.
The team at Synergy Health is here to help you navigate medical marijuana so you and/or your family members get the relief and support that you want from this amazing plant. Call us at 707-334-9187 to get started.
Latest posts by Vanessa Niles, M.D. (see all)
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