Cannabis in Chinese Medicine
Did you know that the cannabis plant has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 5,000 years? Medical marijuana is now “legal” in Ontario, which has set forward a wildfire of pop-up businesses hoping to cash in on the potential benefits of this beyond-our-years plant that has had a pretty bad wrap.
Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug – legally classified as an addictive illegal drug of use. Because it is classified in the same category as cocaine and heroin, it has been a drug that has minimal research toward its potential benefits.
There has been growing evidence and use of marijuana for a variety of conditions, some of these most popular uses include: cancer, pain, seizures, post-tramatic stress disorder and depression. For a lot of families, using medical marijuana it has been a godsend. The difficulty they face is the lack of evidence-based research and the lack of standardization of the quality and dose of the medical marijuana they receive.
So what is marijuana? And what makes it useful medically?
Before we can touch upon what makes marijuana medically useful, we need to talk about our own bodies and what makes our body responsive to the components in marijuana.
Our bodies contain thousands of receptors throughout our brain, tissues, muscles and organs called endocannabinoid receptors. This system of receptors help the body maintain homeostasis, correcting imbalances, ensuring proper cell health and aiding in repairing and restoring normal functioning of cells.
It does this through an intricate system of communication throughout the cannabinoid receptor system, with the brain producing endogenous (internal) cannabinoids targeting different receptors throughout the body.
Cannabis is currently known to contain more than 85 different cannabinoids. These cannabinoids mimic our body’s own endogenous cannabinoid system. The two most known and researched form of cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
THC is the psychotropic part of the plant giving an individual a high, altering their mental state. While CBD is the more “medical” aspect of the plant, which elicits physical changes and helps to alleviate symptoms and disease.
“When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout our brain (receptors called CB-1) and body (CB-2),” said https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/cannabinoids-101-what-makes-cannabis-medicine . “Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. For example, THC binds to receptors in the brain whereas CBN (cannabinol) has a strong affinity for CB-2 receptors located throughout the body. By aiming the right cannabinoid at the right receptors, different types of relief are achievable.”
Researchers are developing multiple strains of the marijuana plant providing different concentrations and types of cannabinoids. This potentially allows the plant to target different endogenous receptors and elicit relief of specific conditions.
We are just at the forefront of understanding what this plant-based cannabinoid system can do for our health.
The cannabis plant has been used for thousands of years, different parts of the plant has been traditionally used to make rope, paper, textiles, oils and much more. Hemp seed (cannabis seed) has been consumed for many years, and is now known for its high levels of essential fatty acids and incredible health benefits.
In Chinese medicine, cannabis seeds are very commonly used and it is considered nourishing and replenishing.
It tonifies yin, moistens the intestines and often is used as a laxative.
In Chinese medicine, often we use different parts of the plant to elicit different responses; each part also has different properties associated with it. We usually use seeds, roots, stem, leaves and flowers. Each part produces a different response. In addition, Chinese medicine also prescribes with of 8-16 ingredients at a time. Each of these ingredients work with the other to enhance certain properties and modulate unwanted properties.
The prescription itself regulates each of the other ingredients ensuring a balanced prescription. Taking one herb on its own and taking one on a regular basis will produced unwanted harmful effects in the long run.
The cannabis bud that is used for marijuana is considered very yin in nature and because it can cause sedative psychotropic effects; the long-term use of it on its own can be depleting to the body and can be harmful for the health in the long run, despite its short-term benefits.
I believe that researchers are starting to extract the beneficial effects of the cannabis plant. By cultivating different strains of plants, allowing for the production of higher or lower and varied types of cannabinoids, this will allow for the plant to target different ailments therefore producing less long-term side effects.
I see the benefits in this, and hope that research will be propelled to produce the right fit, quality and dose of cannabinoids to address specific ailments. The secret to this plant is in its cannabinoids that mimic our own natural body’s production of endogenous cannabinoids.
I hope this controversy will one day be settled and that research is propelled forward ensuring that people get the relief they are hoping for.