What is Cannabis

What is Cannabis? Here’s All You Need to Know

Primarily, many people associate Cannabis use as illegal and harmful. This idea has changed over the years. More and more people are more inclined to use Cannabis products for recreational and medical purposes. However, the use of Cannabis dates way back into ancient times, making it a more interesting topic of discussion.

That said, let’s explore the many properties of Cannabis, the compounds it contains, the effects it induces, and how it can benefit the body and mind. Moreover, we’ll also tackle the legal and medical aspects of Cannabis use.

So, let’s dive right in.

What Is Cannabis?

Scientists refer to Cannabis as a genus of plants from the Cannabaceae family and has medicinal and recreational properties. It is generally classified as either of two species, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, with THC or tetrahydrocannabinol as its active chemical. That said, we can derive both Marijuana and Hemp from the Cannabis plant. The only difference between the two is that Marijuana is Cannabis with more than the legally mandated 0.3% THC content. At the same time, Hemp contains less than 0.3 THC content.

Also called weed, dope, or pot, the dried leaves, buds, flowers, seeds, and stems of this plant contain active compounds called cannabinoids or terpenes that cause hallucinogenic or depressant effects when it enters the bloodstream via ingestion or inhalation.

The History of Cannabis

The plant has had a long history of use. However, its primary use was for  textiles and ropes, then eventually as herbal medicine. Hemp was its original name because of its initial use. Later on, it became an essential commodity, given that it was also grown for food and clothing.

It was first grown and evolved in areas of Central Asia before it was finally cultivated in Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Its fast-growing nature made its propagation and transfer to different areas of the world easier. Still, there has been evidence that ancient peoples were already aware of its psychoactive effects throughout history. In fact, proof dating back to 500 BC shows remnants of burnt cannabis seeds in shaman graves in Siberia and China.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabis contains a lot of active properties and compounds, and of those propped into the mix are Cannabinoids. That said, researchers found that the plant contains up to a hundred cannabinoids, with the non-cannabinoids reaching up to a few hundred.

8 main cannabinoids produce the most discernible effects. The main and most potent cannabinoid types are THC or tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD or cannabidiol. The other 6 cannabinoids include CBG (cannabigerol), CBC (cannabichromene), CBGV (cannabigerovarine), THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), CBDV (cannabidivarin) and CBCV (cannabichromevarin).

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the scent compounds of Cannabis and assist in inducing the effects of cannabinoids in the body. It creates the distinct aromas of the strains, and a single Cannabis plant may contain up to 150 terpenes. With that, here are 8 of the main and most effective ones:

  • Pinene
  • Ocimene
  • Humulene
  • Limonene
  • Myrcene
  • Caryophyllene
  • Terpinolene
  • Linalool

Essentially, both cannabinoids and terpenes assist in facilitating the entourage effect in the body, wherein these compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system to promote pain relief and symptom alleviation.

Cannabis Strains: Indica Vs. Sativa Vs. Hybrid

When talking about Cannabis strains, we can identify three main ones. However, these general strains have different chemical profiles, with a mix of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds, thus creating distinct effects. Therefore, it is not enough that we identify certain effects with a particular strain, e.g., relaxation with indica or energy with Sativa.

Let’s discuss what truly differentiates the botany of these plant strains.

Indica

These varieties were discovered in the regions of India, where it was first grown and harvested for fiber, then eventually for hashish production. Cannabis indica plants have broad leaves and grow to be generally stout, a shorter variety than its Sativa counterpart.

Indica has a reputation for delivering potent sedating effects to its users. Still, the effect is not the same for all users. However, it does help alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, and essentially relax the body. Because of this, we consider it a potent addition to your nighttime routine since it is a “nighttime strain.”

Sativa

The Sativa strain was mostly found in western Eurasia and Europe for both its seeds and fiber.

Compared to its stouter counterpart, Sativa is a rather tall plant with narrow leaves. The idea that it induces energizing effects on the user was the main reason why it was consumed. However, this is not true in all cases.

Sativa users may feel energized after consuming this plant strain, but it more or less creates a stimulating “head high” that helps reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, most users attest to experiencing a boost in their creativity and focus. Because of these results, many refer to sativa as a “daytime strain.”

Hybrid

Over time, these strains are grown interchangeably and even bred into a mix. This is where the hybrid strains are born.

Hybrid strains are mostly from Indica and Sativa strains, making them more common than you think. In fact, pure Indica and Sativa strains are rare to find. You can expect that the hybrid strains have traits from both. While we can’t determine for certain the specific effects a hybrid strain may have, it can help if you check the parent strain of the hybrid you are about to consume. Knowledge of the parent strain may help you anticipate the kind of effect you may experience.

How Cannabis Works

When consuming Cannabis, the effects may vary on several factors. These include the following:

  • Current mental or physical health condition and body chemistry
  • Amount of chemical compounds consumed
  • Type of strain (Indica, Sativa or hybrid) consumed
  • Method of consumption
  • Intention or setting of use

There are multiple methods for Cannabis consumption but when the chemical compounds reach the bloodstream; that’s when it takes effect.

Another occurrence that takes place when we consume Cannabis is the entourage effect, which is the collective effect of all cannabis compounds and terpenes to produce and modulate psychoactivity. It then triggers the body’s endocannabinoid system, and in turn, affects the body’s reward system. This is why Cannabis has become popular to people.

The Effects of Cannabis on Your Body

Cannabis is used for medicinal and recreational purposes, and the effects of consumption may depend on the manner and amount. However, continual consumption of Cannabis may subject the body to short-term effects and long-term effects that users ought to be aware of. That said, we’ll discuss the effects that may be a cause for concern.

Short Term effects

Cannabis users claim that consumption helped alleviate painful sensations, reduce their stress, and improve their sleep. These are but some of the positive short-term effects that users may experience. Some may include the following:

  • An effect on the appetite, whether stimulated or reduced
  • Dopamine release, thus creating sensations of euphoria
  • A boost in circulation and faster heart rate
  • Relief on pain and inflammation in the body

Long Term Effects

Consuming Cannabis may also cause long-term effects on the body, more negative if the user is keen on smoking as their manner of consumption. Users must be aware of these kinds of effects, as it may further deteriorate any current and underlying conditions:

  • Poor judgment and cognitive ability
  • Harmful respiratory effects which may lead to lung cancer (for smokers)
  • Negative effects on the child when the user is pregnant
  • Weakened immune system
  • Memory loss and impaired IQ

What is Cannabis Used For?

Cannabis is commonly used for recreational, medicinal, or spiritual purposes. It’s relaxing properties make it ideal for recreational use.

Cannabis also has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties. These properties are mostly the reasons why it is used in the medicinal field.

Lastly, the ability of Cannabis can put a person in a fully relaxed state. This is quite helpful in terms of meditation for spiritual purposes.Cannabis

Medical Use over Time

Cannabis was also a medicine alternative back in the day. It was also used in pharmacological cults in communities all over the world.

Moreover, there are a number of occasions wherein it was given to help patients relax, relieve nausea, and stimulate patient appetite because of its THC content. During the Cholera pandemic, it was even used for pain alleviation during the Cholera pandemic when patients were suffering from intense stomach pain.

Recreation in History

Over history, the use of Cannabis as a recreational drug has already been proliferated as part of social gatherings, an aid during long travels, and even as leisure for war troops. Philosophers were even notorious for burning the leaves and flowers of the plant, namely the Ancient World history writer Herodotus.

Recreational use of Cannabis was mentioned plenty of times in medical journals and newspapers, and classical literature. It was even featured in Charles Baudelaire’s Les Paradis Artificiels (1860) and Fitz Hugh Ludlow’s The Hasheesh Eater (1857).

Has the FDA Approved Medical Cannabis?

Cannabis is a prominent illegal drug in the US but generally allows recreational use of Hemp, which has less than 0.3% THC content. In the case of medical Cannabis, FDA has yet to approve it as a legal medication fully. However, it has reconsidered and approved only one Cannabis-derived product and three Cannabis-related products.

FDA allows the use of Epidiolex with the conclusion that it is safe for use for patients who have seizures induced by tuberous sclerosis complex and the Dravet Syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

The FDA has also allowed the use of other products for the same purpose. One of them is Marinol and Sydros, which contains dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC. Another one is Cesamet, which also has a synthetically derived active compound that has similar effects to THC. That said, only these products are given FDA approval for the natural THC content that is minimal to none and contains adequate CBD content.

What Are the Side Effects of Medical Marijuana?

Even though medical marijuana is generally free from THC or may contain a minimal 0.3% of it, consuming it may still cause side effects to the body. This can be especially true if you are new to the practice and your body is still adjusting to the results.

The results are as follows:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lanquidity or depression
  • Cottonmouth or dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Poor motor skills
  • Increase in appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Memory problems or forgetfulness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stomach problems
  • Impaired judgment

The Different Ways to Consume Cannabis

There are various consumption methods of cannabis. But, the moment it enters the bloodstream is when it takes effect.. That said, it can either be inhaled or ingested.

Inhaling or Smoking

Smoking is one of the most common methods of consuming Cannabis. There are also many ways to do so. Some users prefer portable means like joints, blunts, and vapes. Others prefer set-ups like bowls, bongs, and pipes. This induces a faster effect but may cause other detrimental effects, as it would to your lungs.

Ingesting

Consuming Cannabis as an edible may not be as common as smoking, but it is more convenient and faces less stigma. It can come in the form of oil tinctures or edibles like cookies and gummy bears. Another more effective way that induces faster results is consuming cannabis products sublingually. By putting the product under the mouth, its absorption to the bloodstream becomes faster.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Many users develop a craving for marijuana use simply because of the sensations and the relief it gives them. Still, we should not consider it a viable medical alternative if it is not adequately regulated or supervised. Given its addictive properties, we recommend that you only consume medical marijuana under the instruction and supervision of an experienced and licensed medical professional.

Cannabis Withdrawal

If you’re used to consuming Cannabis for quite some time, your body may develop some sort of dependence on the substance. That said, any sudden stop to this routine may have a negative and uncomfortable effect on the body. Withdrawal symptoms are usually bearable, but there are cases when it can be debilitating. Among the common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • A diminished and poor appetite
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Insomnia or poor sleep quality
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Dizziness or loss of focus
  • Cold sweats or chills
  • Depressive episodes

All of these symptoms come with an intense craving for Cannabis. That said, it is always best to keep yourself in check when consuming Cannabis, both medically or recreationally.

Conclusion

With all that, we hope that this guide has answered your queries regarding “What is Cannabis?” and how it may affect your body once consumed.

As it would any alternative medicine, Cannabis has both its advantages and disadvantages when used. This is why gaining knowledge about products containing their properties before consuming them is not only beneficial but truly essential. It bears noting that the state does not duly approve it because of the inherent unpredictability of its results. So. If you do believe that this medical approach will be of help to you, consult an experienced physician first.

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