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What Are the Active Components in Medical Cannabis?

The world of medical cannabis can seem like a mystery to many - filled with scientific jargon and complexities. This article aims to demystify this arena, with a focus on the active components in medical cannabis. By exploring what these components are and how they function, we can better understand the potential medicinal benefits of this controversial plant.

A Glimpse into Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, comes from the cannabis plant, which houses over 400 different chemicals. These chemicals can be therapeutic for a variety of health conditions, acting on the body's endocannabinoid system to regulate physiological processes and improve wellbeing. Among these numerous compounds, about 70 are categorised as cannabinoids — these are the chief players in the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.

Understanding Cannabinoids: The Heart of Medical Cannabis

Cannabinoids are natural compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation. They work by imitating compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids, which maintain internal stability and health. The two most commonly recognised and studied cannabinoids are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).

The Role of THC and CBD

THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, meaning it is the component that causes the 'high' feeling. However, in a medical context, THC can help with conditions such as pain, insomnia, nausea, and lack of appetite. Conversely, CBD does not create any intoxicating effects. This cannabinoid has been found to help with epilepsy, seizures, mental disorders, inflammation, and more. Interestingly, the CBD-to-THC ratio in a cannabis plant determines the therapeutic vs psychoactive effects. In other words, a higher ratio of CBD could attenuate the psychoactive effects of THC.

The Lesser Known Cannabinoids

Beyond THC and CBD, the cannabis plant hosts a range of other cannabinoids that each carry potential therapeutic benefits. These include Cannabinol (CBN), known for its sedative properties; Cannabichromene (CBC), believed to have anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects; and Cannabigerol (CBG), which shows promise for treating conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and glaucoma. While these cannabinoids are currently less researched, they represent an exciting frontier in medical cannabis research, highlighting the vast potential of this plant for therapeutic use.

Understanding the active components in medical cannabis is the first step in appreciating the potential therapeutic applications of this plant. As research expands and our knowledge deepens, the possible health applications of cannabis and its cannabinoids continue to grow and evolve. While THC and CBD are at the forefront of medical cannabis discussions now, who knows what future research might reveal about the other 68 cannabinoids?

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