Medical cannabis derives from the cannabis plant, or cannabis sativa. Both hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis plant and both have therapeutic properties. Though they originate from the same species of plant, marijuana and hemp have several differences. The most notable distinction is the level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
THC, like cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids, does contain healing properties, but is better known for its psychoactive properties that are responsible for the “high” or “stoned” feeling. Marijuana can have anywhere from .5% to 30% THC depending on the strain. The hemp plant, on the other hand, contains less than .3% THC.
How Cannabis Works to Relieve Inflammation and Pain
The conditions shown to be alleviated by medical cannabis are caused by either acute or chronic inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, causes pain and other discomforts.
Acute inflammation is part of the natural healing process after an injury or infection. It is characterized by pain, swelling, redness, and loss of mobility. Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, all signs of acute inflammation usually disappears within a week.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is associated with inflammatory disorders. These are conditions that impact the quality of life and may even be life-threatening. Scientific research studies, as well as antidotal evidence, have shown that marijuana or hemp can relieve the symptoms of many of these conditions and in some cases, there are reasons to hope for a remission of some of the diseases.
Conditions Relieved by Medical Cannabis:
• Alzheimer’s Disease – Medical marijuana use has been shown to slow the progression of protein deposits.
• Anxiety – Small amounts of THC can be relaxing and help relieve social anxiety.
• Arthritis – Arthritis suffers also experience better sleep and less pain from hemp or marijuana.
• Asthma – When it comes to asthma, cannabis use is very controversial. While many claim it relaxes and dilates the airways, there is also the danger of lung damage with prolonged or habitual use.
• Autoimmune diseases – Autoimmune conditions such as lupus, fibromyalgia, and vasculitis respond very well to both ingested and topical cannabis treatments since inflammation is at the core of these conditions.
• Chronic pain – Both marijuana and hemp have been shown to reduce difficult to treat pain.
• IBS and Crohn’s Disease – Cannabis use may increase appetite, relieve pain and help control diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
• Migraines – Cannabinoids found in cannabis can help combat the nausea associated with migraine headaches while the CBD cannabinoids can contribute to reducing the inflammation which causes the pain of migraines.
• Multiple Sclerosis – Cannabis use relieves pain, but may also help to reduce muscle stiffness and spasms brought on by MS.
Both hemp and marijuana are ingested by smoking, edibles, tinctures, or oil. THC and CBDs work on a cellular level by signally the C2 receptors in the brain to turn off the acid causing protein responsible for pain and inflammation.
There are many topical cannabis products available, such as creams, oils and serums containing medicinal hemp. In addition to offering soothing and instant relief, these products also work on the cellular level without the worry of side-effects since nothing enters the bloodstream. Pure hemp oil, as with any essential oil, should never be applied directly to the skin. Hemp topical products are combined with carrier oils or other ingredients.
The use of hemp oil for cooking should also be limited. Hemp oil can cause problems with digestion and absorption. Additionally, it should not be used if medication is being taken for blood clotting.
If questions arise regarding side-effects or contraindications with other medicines, it is always best to check with a healthcare professional.