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Learn about cannabis

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is the term commonly used for the plant or flower of the Cannabaceae family. It’s been consumed by humans for longer than we’ve written stuff down.

Sativa and Indica

There are two main types of cannabis for human use: Sativa and Indica. Each has a different shape, size, leaf and effect. Crossed with each other, they make hybrids. Indica is generally considered to provide a calming and relaxing effect. Sativa can have more energizing, uplifting and cerebral effects.

Hybrids

And those hybrids? Somewhere between the two, with a dominant effect from one of the two parent plants.

THC and CBD

The active compounds in cannabis are cannabinoids. Cannabis has more than 100 of them, of which THC and CBD are the most common.

Odour

Ever noticed the distinct smell of cannabis? You can thank terpenes for that. They’re volatile aromatic compounds in the essential oil of plants, including cannabis.

Trichomes

Terpenes and cannabinoids like THC and CBD are both contained in trichomes, tiny and sticky hairs on the cannabis flower.

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Science of Cannabis

In Canada and around the world, researchers are delving into cannabis and its medical applications.
Although it’s been studied for a while, in 2015, international cannabis research took a major leap forward, with 22,000 papers published worldwide, according to a 2017 report by the Salar Media Group. While not all studies make headlines, here are a few that have.

 

Cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease¹

Several studies into cannabis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are underway, but patients are way ahead of them: in a 2014 Canadian population study of 319 IBD patients consuming cannabis, 83.9 per cent had less pain, 76.8 per cent had fewer cramps and 48.2 per cent reported improved joint pain.

 

Cannabis and Fibromyalgia²

Israel is considered a pioneer in cannabis research and this 2018 study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology proves it. Of 30 fibromyalgia patients from two hospitals given monthly doses of cannabis, all reported significant improvement. Half stopped taking any other medication. 

 

Cannabis and Seizures³

Anecdotally, CBD to control seizures associated with childhood Dravet syndrome is well-known. But last year, a group of researchers used the gold standard – randomized double-blinded trials – to prove its efficacy. In the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators reported that of 120 children and young adults tested, 39 per cent who received cannabinoids had a reduction of seizures from 12.4 to 5.9 per month.

 

CBD and Autism⁴

Shortly after the the Dravet syndrome trial, University of Washington researchers published a mouse study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Seizures and autistic-like social deficits in mice with Dravet syndrome were substantially reduced, they reported.

 

THC and Stress⁵

Job interviews are stressful, which is why University of Illinois researchers used them as a psychological tool investigating THC and anxiety. Volunteers took either a 7.5 ml dose, 12.5 ml or a placebo, then did a challenging job interview scenario. Of 42 participants, those taking the low dose reported less stress; those on the higher dose described the tests as “challenging” and “threatening.”

 

Cannabis and skin conditions⁶

Is cannabis effective for skin disorders? A meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology last summer says yes. Amongst studies examined: After twice daily application of a topical cream, patients with chronic itchy skin from kidney disease were symptom free. Another study on contact dermatitis in mice found topical THC reduced swelling and inflammation. Other research included melanoma, acne, scleroderma and sclerosis.

 

*Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects, Ethan B Russo, Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug; 163(7): 1344–1364.
¹Waseem, A, MD. Katz, S, MD. Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2016; 12 (11).
 ²Habib G, Artul S. Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 2018 Feb 14.
 ³Devinsky, O, M.D., Cross, HJ, Ph.D., F.R.C.P.C.H., Laux, L, M.D., Marsh, E, M.D., Miller, I, M.D., Nabbout, R, M.D., Scheffer, I., M.B., B.S., Ph.D., Thiele, E., M.D., Ph.D., Wright, S, M.D. for the Cannabidiol in Dravet Syndrome Study Group. Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 2017; 376:2011-2020.
 ⁴Kaplan, J, Stella, N, Catteral, W. A, Westenbroek, R. E.Cannabidiol attenuates seizures and social deficits in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2017; 114 (42): 11229-11234.
 ⁵Childs E, Lutz JA, de Wit H. Dose-related effects of delta-9-THC on emotional responses to acute psychosocial stress. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2017; 177: 136-144.
 ⁶Mounessa, J. Seigel, J. Dunnick, C, MD. The role of cannabis in dermatology. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2017; 77 (1): 188–190.