The Full Story
- The Cannabis Plant
Even though cannabis, marijuana and hemp are all terms that are often used interchangeably in common day vernacular, in reality they have completely different meanings, which are important to distinguish for both therapeutic and legal purposes. This article is going explore the Cannabis plant, examine two different subspecies of plants that stem from it and in turn the different compounds derived from them that are quickly becoming popular based on their health promoting properties.
- A Brief History of Cannabis
Cannabis is a genus (classification or family) of plant with many different species falling under its umbrella. According to work by Barney Warf, PhD, the most common are two subspecies named by Carl Linnaeus in 1753: the species Cannabis sativa L. (the L is in honor of Linnaeus) widely known as hemp, and the species Cannabis sativa, commonly referred to as marijuana. It is easy to see how these two have been lumped together in most people’s heads, but it’s important to remember that both hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant (just as Dobermans and Pugs are different breeds in the dog family,Canis Familiari.)
The cannabis plant has been cultivated for thousands of years because of the different applications yielded from its different species. Work from Earnest Abel, PhD, dates Cannabis’ use as far back as 12,000 years ago, making it one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops.
- Historical Uses of Hemp and Marijuana
As previously touched upon, both hemp and marijuana can be looked at as cousins in the same plant family; while they may have a few similarities between them, they each have their own unique agricultural and therapeutic properties that differentiate them in terms of their function and application.
Hemp (also referred to as industrial hemp) has been used primarily for its fibers since ancient China in order to create rope, clothing, sails, and bow strings, with many of its other practical and industrial applications being used by civilizations throughout history. Today you can find hemp products ranging from hempseed oil cosmetics to wax, resin, cloth, paper, fuel, and dietary supplements that could possibly aid in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and a myriad of other factors that are attributed to cardiovascular disease.
Marijuana has long been recognized for its medicinal properties, with its use as an anesthetic during surgery dating as far back as 4,000 B.C. Cannabis arrived at the South Asian subcontinent between 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C., where it was widely used in India and regarded as one of the “five kingdoms of herbs” which helped with anxiety. After traveling to different regions around the world, it came to the United States in the beginning of the 20th century.
Legality of CBD
Since American law never distinguished between hemp and marijuana, the cannabis plant was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) in 1970, making it illegal at the federal level to this day. However, as of 2017, a total of 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, with a lot more promising scientific research being funded by the National Institutes of Health in order find out other possible medicinal uses of THC and CBD.5 While the legal situation is ongoing and quite convoluted, CBD is legal all across the U.S. when sourced from industrial hemp, which is defined as having less than .3% THC in it.
Learn more about State vs. Federal CBD laws here / learn more about New York CBD laws
After all this talk of hemp and cannabis being used for centuries to elicit certain health benefits, you might be asking yourself “how exactly does this plant help us?” To answer this we have to become familiar with a group of compounds that play a huge role in the way cannabis interacts with our body: Cannabinoids
- Cannabinoids: What are They?
Cannabinoids are compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that travel in our bodies and attach themselves to specialized receptor sites. This cannabinoid receptor network is called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), and while its functions are not completely understood yet, it has recently been recognized as an important modulatory system in the function of brain, endocrine, and immune tissues 6
The interplay between cannabinoids, receptor sites and subsequent chemical reactions in our central nervous system and immune system are what produce the pharmacological effects in the body which help suppress an array of harmful symptoms, including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation, with research on other health promoting benefits being well underway. While there are well over 100+ cannabinoids found in cannabis, the two most abundant and well-studied are CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBN (Cannabinol), CBC (Cannabichromene), and CBG (Cannabigerol) are cannabinoids that are also being studied for their effects on the body- more on their health benefits below.
- Getting “High” Off of THC and CBD?
An important distinction to make regarding these two compounds is the degree of psychoactivity they each induce in the user – in other words, whether you get “high” taking products with these compounds in them. Marijuana has long been known to cause euphoric feelings in its users along with a sense of relaxation, heightened sensory perception, altered perception of time, and increased appetite.
These effects differ from person to person and vary depending on the amount of THC taken.immune system, unlike its cannabinoid cousin THC which has receptor sites in the brain and along the central nervous system (hence the change in perception and in consciousness when ingested-right to the brain). This means that CBD and products deriving from it are unable to create a high-feeling no matter how much is consumed. Research “Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa Constituent” by “Current Drug Safety” that even large doses of CBD are well tolerated and safe.
- Health Benefits of Cannabinoids
The following shows a few positive health-https://cbdvapegenius.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/unique.jpge a look-you may be surprised with how many symptoms it could potentially help with!
- High Points: An Historical Geography of Cannabis
by Barney Warf http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1931-0846.2014.12038.x/pdf
- Marijuana- The First Twelve Thousand Years
by Ernest L. Abel, 1980 http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/history/first12000/abel.htm
- The Cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed
by Delfin Rodriguez-Leyva and Grant N. Pierce. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2868018/
- Impact of omega-6 fatty acids on cardiovascular outcomes: A review
by Shweta Khandelwal, PhD, Laura Kelly, MSc, Richa Malik, MSc, Dorairaj Prabhakaran, MD, and Srinath Reddy, MD. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4062196/
- State Medical Marijuana Laws
- The role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of endocrine function and in control of energy balance in humans
by Komorowski J. & Stepien H. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17369778
- Safety and side effects of Cannabidiol, a cannabis sativa constituent
by Mateus Machado Bergamaschi, et.al. http://www.eurekaselect.com/75752/article