Natural Medicine

Medical Marijuana – What Are Cannabinoids? - Dr Izzy - What Are CannabinoidsMaking more of an impact on the market of recent times, cannabinoids have become something of a hot topic in certain circles. So what are cannabinoids? Before we dig into what cannabinoids are, let’s explore some of the histories of where cannabinoids have been used in the past. As much as some people might like to spruik that they are the latest thing, cannabinoids have been around much longer than you and me.

The history behind the story; what are Cannabinoids?

In the Middle East, medical Marijuana (also known medical Marihuana, which we will come to later) as was used for thousands of years. It was also used for religious rites and there were probably many other uses as well. - Dr Izzy - What Are CannabinoidsSeveral of the larger Middle Eastern tribes at the time used Marijuana, or medical Marihuana. The Assyrians used Marijuana for medicine, and have also used it for religious purposes, it seems from what the Archaeologists have been able to ascertain. They were not alone in their use of medical Marijuana, the Egyptians also used Marijuana as medicine, for the purposes of excitation and during religious ceremonies.

Surprisingly, the Romans and the Greeks didn’t know about the psychoactive properties of Marijuana it seems, but they also used Marijuana as an anti-inflammatory drug.

In India, cannabis was used by people who desired to be carried away from their worries and cares; much like many seeking an escape from their hustle and bustle lives today. Thus, Marijuana has been interpreted as an effective medication for the treatment of anxiety. - Dr Izzy - What Are Cannabinoids

There is a 15th-century Arabic story where the translation says that one of the Arab rulers at the time suffered from epilepsy. The services of a physician were sought to help remedy this situation, and the physician decided to treat his epilepsy with cannabis.

According to the texts, it is said that the treatment cured him, but he had to take cannabis for the rest of his life. It is fair to say that although they might not have known the scientific answer to “What Are Cannabinoids?”, the health benefits were clear.

The human relationship with cannabis dates more than 5,000 years ago from Asia. As recently as 100 years ago, Queen Victoria was using cannabis extract for therapeutic purposes.

What is Marihuana?

In the 1930’s the name “Marihuana” became more familiar to the US public, in place of Marijuana. Marihuana as a descriptive word was well used in the 1950’s during the jazz culture, and the 1960’s was a huge era of cultural change around marijuana.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam’s research, conducted in Sao Paulo, Brazil, showed that cannabis had been used for epilepsy in the past, so he decided to further his research through clinical studies. These studies initially experimented using marijuana for medicine on animals. The medical marihuana worked, so Dr. Raphael Mechoulam decided to try it on humans.

What are Cannabinoids and here do they come from? - Dr Izzy - What Are CannabinoidsOn the quest for the answer to “What Are Cannabinoids?”, the research of Dr. Mechoulam bears considering. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam was producing the cannabidiol from hashish. In the study, they started with 10 healthy epileptic human volunteers for the trial. These people had not been affected by any of the known medical drugs of the day. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam started by of giving them 200 mg per day of cannabidiol, which was considered to be rather high doses of cannabidiol.

For almost 40 years, cannabis oil was isolated and separated from hashish. While epilepsy candidates were taking the cannabidiol, they had no seizures. The evidence was published in the medical journals, but sadly, nothing happened with the information.

What is the difference between recreational and medical use?

In search of the answer to “What are cannabinoids?”, we will take a look at some more modern applications in medical research. Zachary Walsh is a clinical psychologist and researcher in human behavior. He studies individuals who use drugs. There have been a series of studies done for medical and recreational marijuana.

When interviewed, Zachary said; “There are people who use marijuana because they like the way that it makes them feel. There are people out there who respond very well from medical marijuana. There are a number of people who respond very well to medical marijuana but don’t enjoy the experience of some of the side effects.” - Dr Izzy - What Are CannabinoidsAs a part of the study, Zachary and his team gathered data from over 600 medical cannabis users. The medical marijuana was being used to treat patients with cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain. What Zachary and his team found was that in the treatment, the patients were using cannabis for three primary reasons: to help sleep, to reduce pain and to alleviate anxiety.

Zachary and his team were particularly interested in the co-occurrence of anxiety and pain. Cannabis has been proven to be very helpful for patients who suffer from anxiety, pain management and coping with their illness. Despite the known benefits, the studies also showed that cannabis was least effective for people who use avoidance and self-blaming as part of their coping mechanisms.

Of the candidates that found marijuana to be most effective, about 80% of the users claimed that the use of cannabis enabled them to be more active despite the pain. 85% said that cannabis helped them to think less about the pain.

Zachary and his team have been completing further studies to find out if the use of cannabis may assist with mental health. Frequent cannabis users, it was found, experienced less anxiety and didn’t worry as much. - Dr Izzy - What Are CannabinoidsIn 2014 the United States Department of health and human services gave permission for the first clinical trial for the trial of cannabis for the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

To better understand their effective use in medicine, and what are cannabinoids, researchers have been pouring hundreds of hours into evaluations with test groups and have come up with some interesting evidence. In studies on the use of cannabis and cannabidiol, conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, researchers have conclusively found that “Marijuana helps relieve several anxiety disorders.” Complimentary to this, the University of Sao Paulo has also confirmed that cannabinoids have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

About the author

Dr. Izzy