Eliminating the “High” While Treating Medical Conditions With Cannabis
Cannabis is the most amazing plant on the planet when you take into consideration its potential as a medicine. The fact that humans evolved with an endocannabinoid system, dating back to sea squirts 600 million years ago, is paramount to understanding why I can make such a bold statement. The Cannabis Sativa plant did not come to existence until about 25 million years ago and produced compounds known as phytocannabinoids which have the same chemical structure as the cannabinoids that all animals have been producing. In other words, we have receptors throughout our body and are ”wired” for this plant. These receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, are concentrated in our brains and in our immune system. Although there are between 85 and 100 different phytocannabinoids, the two most prevalent and studied are THC (tetrahydrocannabinoid) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC creates the psycho-active effects of cannabis while CBD causes no psycho-activity and, in fact, can counteract the psycho-activity, anxiety and increased heart rate associated with THC.
Although many of us seek, and enjoy, the psycho-active effects of THC, we see many patients in our practice who prefer to treat their medical condition without the “high”. This is particularly true of our elder population as those who have stigmatized the cannabis plant and may have some misconceptions perpetuated by a misinformation campaign that began in the 1930’s. We have recently learned new ways to use this amazing plant as a medicine while eliminating the “high”.
Along with obtaining our nutrients through food and supplementation and by integrating exercise, meditation, yoga and other natural modalities into our daily lives- phytocannabinoids such as CBD, THC (or a combination of both) can be profoundly beneficial to our health. The main purpose of our endocannabinoid system is to maintain balance and homeostasis in our body. When systems to go out of balance, we produce endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG) as they are needed to help bring our systems back to normal. Sometimes we cannot produce enough of our own cannabinoids and can get a boost from the plant, therefore having the ability to treat a wide variety of conditions.
As we get older, the two primary age-related diseases that bring elders to our office are:
- Arthritis with associated degenerative disk disease and
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Because the plant cannabinoids CBD and THC both have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, anti-spasm they can be used in a variety of ways to treat age related conditions. Treatment can simply involve the use of hemp CBD which is legal in all 50 states as a dietary supplement. We recommend a highly absorbable form of CBD that comes in pump bottle and is delivered under the tongue. This is excellent to use in the morning and afternoon. If THC is desired, best to use certain strains in the evening or before bed. They can be obtained in tincture or pill form. There is mounting evidence that CBD and THC are neuro-protective and can possibly slow, halt, or event reverse neuro-degenerative diseases- possibly even Alzheimer’s. I am currently developing a program for prevention and treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s that involves nutrition, supplementation and cannabinoids.