The benefits of the marijuana plant have been written about since at least 2,600 BC. Other evidence suggests it has been cultivated and used for many thousands of years more. From aches and pains to anxiety, cannabis has been widely and popularly used everywhere it has been available since before records began. Even in the era of prohibition, cannabis use has been undiminished.
This recent review of the benefits of phytocannabinoids, or the cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant, collects much of the data that has been produced in recent decades on the neurological effects these drugs bring. The results are generally positive and recent developments have shown phytocannabinoids to have more applications than previously thought.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis sativa plant, after delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. CBD has been proven to have an “excellent safety profile” and a wide variety of positive effects on many different diseases and syndromes. It is safe at high doses, and when side effects do occur, which are rare, they include tiredness, diarrhea and changes in appetite and weight. Nobody has ever died from taking cannabis.
Of the benefits discussed in this paper, of particular note are the effects on intractable epilepsy (people have used cannabis to treat epilepsy since at least 1800 BC). Previously untreatable epilepsy in adults and children has been treated successfully with CBD. Other effects include antidepressant, neuroprotection (including Alzheimer’s disease), recovery from brain trauma, PTSD memory extinction, relief of MS symptoms, and more.
THC is the psychoactive cousin of CBD and has many similar effects, including antidepressant, anxiolytic, neuroprotective effects in the brain and body, and tumour fighting effects. It is less tolerable than CBD because of the psychoactive effects. It has a very positive safety profile, however.
The vast majority of phytocannabinoid study has been concentrated on CBD and THC. There are thought to be at least 60 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, most of which have never received much attention. The differences in effects when cannabinoids are delivered independently or with the other cannabinoids in the plant suggest that they play important roles that have yet to be elucidated.
Laws Do Not Reflect the Safety or Benefits of Phytocannabinoids
Phytocannabinoids have a positive safety profile and an incredibly wide range of beneficial medicinal effects. However, they remain illegal in most of the world. While medical marijuana is becoming increasingly available, prohibition remains the norm. This limits study and deprives many millions of people of the benefits of phytocannabinoid medicines.
The prohibition of cannabis has made studying phytocannabinoids very difficult in the last 80 years. This has led to a very patchy medical profile. Dosing using the cannabis plant is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do with any accuracy because of the widely varying concentrations of cannabinoids in the plant. Because a lot of the science of cannabinoids is of poor quality and they have not been properly studied for medicinal uses in most cases, it is difficult to prescribe like other medicines.
Phytocannabinoids are poorly studied but have clear benefits in a wide range of syndromes. It’s also worth remembering that although there is a lot of research supporting their use in therapies, that other studies investigating the negative effects of the cannabinoids on the body, too.