What Is Cannabis?
Cannabis a fascinating plant genus best known for its mind-altering and medicinal properties. Its use and cultivation date back as far as written language itself, and its therapeutic utility spans many cultures around the world throughout history.
However, despite its ubiquity, people may not fully understand what cannabis is or why there are thousands of different named strains flooding markets worldwide. Here, we’ll take a dive into how the plant is defined, how cannabis has been used, and why it’s taken on so many forms since its earliest uses in human society.
What Is Cannabis Used For?
Today, cannabis consumption is generally divided into two primary uses: recreational and medical. Recreational cannabis consumers may use cannabis for a variety of purposes, such as enjoyment, stress relief, and creative stimulation. Medical consumers use cannabis to alleviate symptoms such as pain, anxiety, insomnia, appetite loss, and others.
Cannabis contains hundreds of active compounds (e.g., cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) that provide a range of medical benefits. THC and CBD are two of cannabis’ most well-known compounds, although there are many more that offer a unique range of effects.
The cannabis plant is also an important agricultural resource. The strong fibers of hemp have been used to make ropes, clothing, textiles, building materials, and more. It also produces nutritious consumable seeds filled with essential amino acids, protein, and other valuable minerals. Cannabis byproducts can also be manufactured into cooking oils and can even function as a sustainable biofuel.
What Is a Cannabis Strain?
Cannabis is believed to have originated in Central Asia, but over the course of millennia, conquest and exploration would carry the plant to virtually every continent. Cultivators selectively bred their plants to suit the needs of their communities. Over many generations, variations within cultivars began to develop in each pocket of the world where cannabis had taken root. These variations became known as cannabis strains.
Many of these landrace strains were collected from their native habitats and brought to the West, where they were crossbred with one another by horticulturists seeking to explore the plant’s potential. This process of hybridization has given rise to the thousands of named varieties we consume today.
You’ve probably also heard the terms “indica,” “sativa,” and “hybrid” when discussing cannabis strains. These three types primarily refer to the various plant shapes and structures, features that are important for growers. Consumers have long thought that indicas have sedating effects, sativas promote energy, and hybrid effects fall somewhere in between. However, research has largely debunked this effects-based classification.
Today, cannabis classification more or less operates in the following categories:
- High-THC, low-CBD (more euphoric)
- High-CBD, low-THC (more clear-headed)
- Balanced CBD and THC (mildly euphoric)
Each of these three “chemotypes” offers unique medical benefits and effect profiles.
What Is CBD and THC?
CBD-related products have been increasingly popular over the recent few years. And it’s been happening for a reason. CBD doesn’t get users high and has an ability to treat multiple conditions and diseases. Apart from that, the U.S. DEA has officially removed the CBD with little to no THC from their list of controlled substances.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, oil can be obtained from Cannabis plants along with over 100 other compounds. It is widely used in therapeutics and is known to ease the symptoms of anxiety, epilepsy and even cancer. As of now, the most significant research confirms positive effects of CBD oil for patients experiencing seizures (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44056-y). Scientists tend to believe that CBD oil helps repress seizures by slowing down signals that are sent to the brain and by changing levels of calcium in brain cells thus decreasing inflammation in the brain. Some studies suggest that CBD may help with diabetes, heart diseases, substance abuse, mental disorders and certain types of cancers. CBD can have a beneficial effect on the skin due to anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to control skin pores and glands.
CBD products may also contain certain amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana. This one causes the feeling of getting“high”, which is usually associated with marijuana plants. THC can cause more side effects (induce hallucinations, change thinking, cause delusions), and even may affect long-term negative psychiatric effects.
What is Omega 3-6-9?
Omega 3-6-9 is a complex of the most important unsaturated fatty acids for human health. The body does not produce these substances on its own, therefore, it needs their regular supply from the outside to maintain one's physical and mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids normalize metabolism, glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood, preventing excess weight. They are involved in the synthesis of serotonin; if they are deficient, a person can become depressed. Omega-3 strengthens hair, nails and skin, and has a positive effect on vision.
The main property of omega-6 is to strengthen the immune system. This fatty acid also detoxifies the body, strengthens bones, prevents sclerosis and slows down aging.
Omega-9 acids reduce the risk of developing diabetes, normalize the functioning of the heart and blood vessels, and have anti-inflammatory properties. They lower cholesterol levels by preventing atherosclerosis.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in particularly high concentrations in cannabis plants, they are what create the characteristic smell of many oily plants. Each cannabis plant contains over 100 terpenes, which differ depending on the strain.
Limonene is an aromatic terpene produced by a cannabis flower. It improves the absorption of other terpenes through the skin and the digestive tract. The anti-cancer effects of limonene have been widely studied, and this terpene maybe particularly useful in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and other tumors found in fat areas.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory and antifungal effects, limonene has antioxidant properties that help the immune system by scavenging free radicals throughout the body. This terpene can reduce hunger, help diabetics with high blood sugar. Limonene has been shown to help with stress-related disorders, improve mood and natural sleep.
Camphor is a terpene that has a wide range of uses due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, it can be used to relieve pain, irritation and itching. Camphor is also used to improve respiratory function, relieve chest congestion, and inflammatory conditions.
Linalool makes the immune system more resistant to the damaging effects of stress, has a number of sedatives, antimicrobial, anesthetic and antiepileptic properties.
Humulene combined with phytocannabinoids and other terpenes can kill cancer cells, it has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties (especially active against Staphylococcus aureus bacterial).