Medical cannabis education
The cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.) produces many secondary metabolites that can be used therapeutically. The most famous are cannabinoids, which got their name form the plant itself. Besides cannabinoids, the plant also produces other therapeutic compounds, such as terpenes and flavonoids.
Phytocannabinoids and terpenes are produced and stored in specialized cell structures called trichomes. There are several types of trichomes present on the plant (stalked, sessile, glandular), but the highest density of glandular stalked trichomes (they contain the highest % of cannabinoids) can be found on non-pollinated female flowers (flowering tops, “buds”).
The Endocannabinoid System
The main reason why phytocannabinoids are so therapeutically effective is that they can interact and modulate our endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is our bodies homeostatic regulator; it makes sure there is balance in all the other physiological systems.
If this system is not working correctly, certain diseases or problems can occur. By adding phytocannabinoids we can compensate this imbalance and restore homeostasis in our body.
Cannabis has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal plant in many ancient civilisations. With the advancements in science, we now can better understand the mechanisms of how cannabis constituents effect our body. There are many medical conditions, where phytocannabinoids have be effective. The most common diseases, that burden the western civilisation, such as chronic pain, inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease and addiction, can be successfully treated with medical cannabis therapy in conjunction with other important aspects such as nutrition, physical and psychological wellbeing.
Delivery methods of cannabinoids
Cannabinoids can be taken via various routes; orally, inhaled, topically, rectally…Different routes of administration have different effects and patients should be aware of them before starting a treatment.
It is important to know, which delivery method is the most effective for various types of health problems. Cannabinoids are not water soluble; like lipids, they do not mix with water, making them problematic for the delivery to various parts of our body.
To make cannabinoids more bioavailable, extracts or pure compounds are usually mixed with a carrier oil (olive, hemp, coconut, MCT) or an alcohol (ethanol, glycerol). This also makes the product more manageable (easier to dose) and enhances the bioavailability of the compounds.
Other cannabinoids (acids) and terpenes, have also been shown to enhance the bioavailability of neutral cannabinoids.