Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, all over the world.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was widely used in western medicine. Cannabis prohibition forced cannabis outside of legal  medicine, and severely limited research opportunities.
Illustration Cannabis Sativa

Below you will find some interesting information on the plant's unique chemical constituents, called cannabinoids, and about the different strains of the plant and their therapeutic effects.

Cannabinoids:

Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical constituents, with over 60 cannabinoids, which are specific to cannabis. Each strain of cannabis contains different ratios of cannabinoids,  which together work synergistically to provide its therapeutic effects. The human body has endogenous cannabinoid receptor sites in its nervous and immune systems throughout the body.

It is not conclusive exactly what each cannabinoid does, and how they interact. The following information comes from limited research, and in part from Marijuana Medicine, Christian Ratsch, 2001.

  • The main cannabinoid in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has psychoactive, euphoric, stimulant, muscle-relaxing, anti-epileptic, anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, appetite stimulating, bronchiodilating, hypotensive, antidepressant, and analgesic effects. High potency cannabis contains at least 15% THC.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) is another main cannabinoid. CBD lessens the psychoactive effects of THC, and has sedative and analgesic effects.
  • Cannabichromene (CBC) promotes the analgesic effects of THC and has sedative effects.
  • Cannabigeral (CBG) has sedative effects and antimicrobial properties, as well as lowers intraoccular pressure. It is the biogenetic precursor of the other cannabinoids.
  • Cannabinol (CBN) is a mildly psychoactive degradation of THC; its primary effects are to lower intraocular pressure and anti-epileptic.

Cannabis Strains:

There are two main families of cannabis plants, INDICA and SATIVA. There are many strains of the plant, some pure Indicas, some pure Sativas, and others crosses of the two. Each strain of cannabis contains different ratios of cannabinoids, thus giving them a unique therapeutic effect.

Sativas:

Generally, the Sativa plant is a taller and lankier variety,  characterized by narrow serrated leaves and loose spear-like flower clusters that can be extremely resinous.

The primary effects of Sativas are on the mind and emotions. These benefits can be particularly helpful for the psychological aspects of many illnesses, giving people an increased sense of well-being. Due to the stimulating nature of Sativas, they are generally better for daytime use. Caution should also be taken for people experiencing hightened anxiety or those with mental health conditions.

Some therapeutic uses of Sativas:

  • Reduces depression, elevates mood
  • Relieves headaches and migraines
  • Energizes and stimulates
  • Increases focus and creativity
  • Reduces nausea
  • Stimulates appetite

Indicas:

Indica plants are normally shorter and stockier plants than Sativas. They have wide, deeply serated leaves and a compact and dense flower cluster.

The effects of Indicas are predominantly physical and sedative. Due to the relaxing nature of Indicas, they are best used for non-active times of the day, and before bed.

Medical Marijuana Flower
Some therapeutic uses of Indicas:

  • Reduces pain
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Relieves spasms
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Aids in sleep
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Reduces nausea
  • Stimulates appetite
  • Relieves headaches and migraines
  • Reduces intra-ocular pressure
  • Anti-convulsant
  • Reduces seizure frequency

Cross Strains:

Hybrid strains are the result of cross pollination of various strains. The characteristics, and hence the effects, of one strain will usually be dominant. 
  • An Indica-dominant cross will be effective for pain relief, with the Sativa component helping with energy and activity levels. Such a strain is ideal for daytime pain relief.
  • A Sativa-dominant cross will be helpful in stimulating the appetite, with the Indica component increasing muscle relaxation. This strain would be ideal for daytime appetite stimulation.
  • All strains of cannabis may increase appetite and reduce nausea, however crosses are reported to work most effectively.

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