There are two cannabinoids (active compounds in cannabis) that are the subject of most research: cannabindiol (CBD) which is a non-euphoric cannabinoid and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active compound in cannabis. There are two main types of cannabis: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. Sativa strains have higher levels of THC and produce a more euphoric high, while Indica strains have higher concentrations of CBD and tend to relax muscles and act as analgesics.
Currently there are two drugs approved in the U.S.
- MarinolÂ® (oral dronabinol – THC) which is approved for nausea associated with chemotherapy and an appetite stimulator for HIV/AIDS patients
- CesametÂ® (nabilone – synthetic THC), also approved for treating nausea associated with chemotherapy.
- In Canada, SativexÂ® (CBD, TCH-based oromucosal spray) is used for treatment of central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis with much success.
Other synthetic cannabinoids are currently in development.
The following are some of the areas where cannabinoids are being researched for use in various medical conditions:
- Anti-Tumor Properties: Cannabis extract has been shown to shrink tumors in animals (mice). THC has been shown to reduce Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a common solid tumor common in liver cirrhosis which has an average survival rate of less than 5 years. This is significant as HCC is the third leading cause of death worldwide (Vera, et.al., 2007).
- Cancer: According to the National Cancer Institute, bladder cancer is reduced 45% in cannabis users (Elizabeth, 2015). Incidence of other cancers such as liver cancer is also shown to be reduced, as is breast cancer.
- Increased Appetite: Cannabis has been shown to increase appetite in cancer patients undergoing chemo by as much as 75%, resulting in weight increases up to 11% (Elizabeth, 2015).
- Nausea Control: While other medications are effective in controlling vomiting from chemotherapy, they do not control nausea. THC and CBD-based medicines have been shown to be effective in controlling both vomiting and nausea. Nausea from chemotherapy is significant because it is an ongoing problem, and can be so severe that 20% of patients stop chemotherapy because of it (Parker, et.al., 2011).
- Pain Control: Cannabinoids have proven to be 10 times more potent than morphine in mediating pain, in part due to their anti-inflammatory properties (Russo, 2008), and have been shown to be more effective than codeine, without the need to increase the dose in long-term use.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: THC has been shown to have 20 times the anti-inflammatory properties as aspirin and twice the anti-inflammatory properties of hydrocortisone. In addition, cannabichromene (CBC), the third most common cannabinoid in cannabis, is also anti-inflammatory (Russo, 2008).
While many fear the use of marijuana for medical purposes due to propensity for abuse, it should be pointed out that morphine and codeine are derived from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferun), while other analgesics are derived from chili peppers (capsaicin) and salicylic acid (aspirin) (Russo, 2008). Handled responsibly and well-researched, marijuana can provide significant medical aid to those facing serious health conditions.
THC-Free CBD Oil
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, the farm bill, was passed by Congress and signed by the President, stating that hemp-derived products, like CBD, are not classified as a drug and are legal to sell in all 50 states. THC-free, isolated CBD options (without any of the psychoactive ingredients you’ll find in cannabis thus, no issues with drug-tests) extracted from industrial hemp have been shown to be beneficial for various uses. In addition to pain reduction, mood and anxiety improvement, increased relaxation and better sleep, CBD has also been shown to prevent fat accumulation in the liver. This form of CBD oil is ideal for people seeking products without any trace amounts of THC.