Marijuana 101: Understanding the Parts of the Cannabis Plant

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

It is extremely important that medical marijuana patients understand the chemical makeup of their medical marijuana strains. Because the composition of therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes vary from strain to strain, the efficacy of their symptom relief can vary widely as well. The cannabinoids THC is responsible for producing psychoactive effects. THC can also stimulate appetite and reduce nausea, making high-THC strains useful for HIV/AIDS and cancer patients. CBD, on the other hand, is a cannabinoid that can produce symptom relief without psychoactive side effects. CBD is thought to help in a wide range of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and epilepsy.  

Finding this information isn't necessarily easy. Many dispensaries still neglect to provide lab testing for their marijuana products, and when they do the testing can be inaccurate. Strains from one provider may have a different chemical makeup than strains of the same name from another provider, so without testing there is no way of knowing if it will have the same effect. We believe this information is necessary in ultimately finding the perfect dosing regimen. If you have access to this information, keep track of it in your journal so that you can easily look back and see what has been successful and what has not.

This information has been provided in part by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Can Cannabis Benefit PTSD?

Photo Credit: Getty

Photo Credit: Getty

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that results from some sort of traumatic event. Those who suffer PTSD may experience hyperarousal with insomnia, isolation, flashbacks, avoidance, and anxiety. They also exhibit dissociative behaviors or arousal, and/or emotional or dysphoric symptoms. Because the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating neurobiological pathways, it is thought that targeting its receptors may benefit those who suffer from PTSD. Additionally, activating the cannabinoid receptors in the prefrontal complex could elicit antidepressant effects. Because the cannabinoids in medical marijuana are able to activate the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannnabinoid system, it is able to provide antidepressant effects which would make the medication useful for mood disorders, suicidal behaviors, and PTSD. A report from New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program for PTSD found patients experienced reduced frequency, severity of, and even complete cessation of suicidal behaviors.

When the body suffers endocannabinoid deficiency and impaired CB1 signaling, the body has a more difficult time managing fear extinction and forgetting negative memories, making it more prone to anxiety and triggering flashbacks. Cannabis' phytocannabinoids can replenish endocannabinoid deficiency. A Brazilian study found THC can attenuate fear memories, and that a combination of THC and CBD could relieve PTSD symptoms with very minimal side effects. Another pre-clinical study found cannabis influences the nucleus accumbens VTA circuit of the mesolimbic system, which allows it to exhibit positive neuronal and behavioral effects and prevent negative associative memories from forming. An experimental animal study exposed mice to an electric maze, and then found mice treated with CBD were less likely to experience fear and exhibited less stress when nearing this maze. 

This information has been provided by Marijuana Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Smoking Marijuana Not Associated With Weight Gain in Later Life

Photo Credit: SPLIFFYARMBROOSTER via Reddit

Photo Credit: SPLIFFYARMBROOSTER via Reddit

Until recently, cannabis has never had a good reputation when it comes to obesity and weight gain. Mounting evidence shows cannabis is not associated with an overweight body mass index, and there is now a new piece of research to add to this list. In a longitudinal study from Denmark that surveyed adolescents aged 15-19, and then surveyed participants again 20 years later, researchers took into account marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use, along with height, weight, physical activity, and other confounding factors. After adjusting for factors like tobacco and alcohol use, and exercise, they found participants who smoked marijuana were not more likely to gain weight later in life than those who did not. They also found those who began smoking as adolescents actually had the smallest increase in BMI.

While these results are promising, the study was not perfect. Thousands of participants dropped out of the study between the initial survey and the followup survey, and the study relied on trusting participants to self-report truthful data. That being said, researchers noted survey takes tend to under-report the amount of cannabis they consume, which could mask an inverse relationship between smoking cannabis and BMI. Additionally, there are several other studies that report similar findings. 

This information has been provided by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

National Academy of Sciences Releases Report on Marijuana Confirming Medical Benefits; Dispelling Myths

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently reviewed over 10,000 scientific abstracts and confirmed the existence of the medical properties of cannabis. Their review stated, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective” for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity.

The review went on to contradict negative health impacts of using marijuana. They did not link smoking marijuana to lung, head, or neck cancers, and they did not associate marijuana use with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Researchers did link bronchitis to smoking marijuana, but the condition seemed to improve once cannabis use stopped. Researchers also found evidence was lacking when it comes to linking marijuana use to all-cause mortality, overdose deaths, or occupational accidents and injury. There were also no links between marijuana use and violent or aggressive behaviors.

This information was provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: History of Cannabis Use Not An Independent Risk Factor for Stroke

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A recent study conducted by researchers from Sweden and France determined cannabis use is not an independent contributing factor to the risk of stroke. The population-based study, which was published in the journal Stroke, looked at the relationship between marijuana use and stroke risk in 49,000 men and found “no significant association between cannabis use in young adulthood and overall incidence of stroke” for people under 60 years old. Researchers determined, “[B]y examining cannabis use in young adulthood in relation to subsequent risk of stroke in a large population-based cohort, we found no evident association between cannabis use and stroke, including stroke before 45 years of age.”

This information was provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Marijuana and Brain Cells

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Opponents of marijuana legalization often say that marijuana is harmful to the brain. As a result, those who could benefit from medical marijuana's therapeutic properties may stay away from the medication for fear that it may kill brain cells, but scientists and physicians now understand this is not true. Studies that have focused on marijuana use and the brain have not discovered permanent changes in the brain as a result of long-term marijuana use. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, analyzed the findings of 15 studies on marijuana and cognitive function, data that included over 1,000 test subjects, and found marijuana users merely suffered from temporary minor impairments in learning and memory. Another study from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2015 compared the brain scans of marijuana users to non-users, and researchers found no physical differences in the major areas of the brain.

Contrary to the notion that marijuana might harm the brain, evidence suggests medical marijuana may actually have positive long-term effects on the brain. Cannabinoids have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties that may be beneficial for brain damage, and could help in the treatment of degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Studies on animals have even found THC and CBD may even stimulate neurogenesis, or brain cell growth. While there is no evidence of long-term harmful use on the brain, caution should be used during adolescence when the brain is still developing. There is no quantifiable evidence of the harm marijuana might have during this time, but as the brain develops it is more susceptible to negative effects of drug use. Researchers also suggest avoiding smoking marijuana. While marijuana itself may not harm the brain, smoking deprives parts of the brain of oxygen, which could negatively impact brain cells.

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Marijuana Strain Guide for Treating Medical Conditions

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Medical marijuana is being touted as a miracle drug for a variety of conditions, but not all strains are created equal. While the cannabinoid composition of one strain may work for treating certain symptoms and conditions, this does not necessarily mean that same strain will be effective in treating others. Cannabis is known to be effective for treating chronic pain, both general and localized. Research has shown that strains containing both CBD and THC are able to provide an entourage effect that is most effective when treating pain.

High THC strains, or strains containing both CBD and THC, are effective in reducing nausea and increasing appetites, which is especially beneficial for AIDS/HIV or cancer patients undergoing traditional treatments like chemotherapy. Patients treating epilepsy may want to look to High CBD and low THC strains for therapy. This is especially helpful for children who want to reduce seizure frequency without experiencing any psychoactive high. High CBD strains are also effective in treating mental illness and psychological symptoms, like depression and anxiety.

This information has been brought to you by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

What are the Best and Healthiest Ways to Consume Medical Marijuana?

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

For new medical marijuana patients, discovering the appropriate way to do dose isn't easy. Not only does a patients need to find the perfect cannabinoid composition, dose amount, and dosing frequency, but the patient is also faced with a wide variety of administration methods. Most patients are most familiar with smoking marijuana, but this may not be the healthiest vehicle. One similar inhalation method that is less harmful to the lungs is the vaporization method. Vaporization heats marijuana to form a vapor, reaching just below the point of combustion so as to eliminate the release of smoke filled with harmful toxins and carcinogens.

Another way you can use medical marijuana is through consuming an edible. Edibles involve infusing a butter or oil with cannabis and then using that to create another food. Edibles make it easy to portion out dosages, but it is always recommended to start slow and small as the effects don't kick in immediately and then last a while. Patients who want to target specific areas may want to consider cannabinoid topicals. Topicals can be applied to acute pain areas, as opposed to offering a full body effect, and they will not produce psychoactive effects either. The last method to discuss is the tincture, which is an alcohol infused with cannabinoids. A patient can then use a dropper to administer the recommended dosage underneath the tongue. This allows for regulated relief, like that of smoking, without any of the harmful effects that accompany smoking. 

Whether or not you're experiencing successful relief with a certain vehicle, be sure to document it in your journal! In this way, you can look back to see which methods work and which methods are inadequate. This information will be entered into our anonymous database, so that you can help other patients who are hoping to treat similar symptoms through our Chief Medical Officer approved guidelines. This information has been provided in part by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: Marijuana Not Associated with Risk of Stroke

Photo Credit: Hight Times Magazine

Photo Credit: Hight Times Magazine

A new study published in the journal of the American Heart Association and involving close to 50,000 Swedish men born between 1949 and 1951 suggests marijuana does not increase the risk of suffering a stroke. Authors of the study wrote, “We found no evident association between cannabis use in young adulthood and stroke, including strokes before 45 years of age... Tobacco smoking, however, showed a clear, dose-response shaped association with stroke." There was some increased risk among those who used cannabis more than 50 times, but those users also used tobacco. This risk was attenuated once the study controlled for tobacco use factors. 

This information has been provided by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

 

Cannabis May Help Treat Tourette Syndrome

Photo Credit: Marijuana Times

Photo Credit: Marijuana Times

Tourette Syndrome is known for producing involuntary and repetitive movements and vocal or phonic tics in patients. This could be anything from uncontrolled jaw movements, blinking, facial movements, shrugging, jerking about, stretching, hooting, throat clearing, or producing unrecognizable or inappropriate sounds. There is no cure available for Tourette Syndrome, but evidence suggests cannabis may be able to offer some relief. Because the CB1 receptor is densely present in layers of the cerebellum, basal ganglia and hippocampus, it could play an important role in relieving certain tics. In two separate studies from 2003 and 2013, delta-9-THC was viewed as an acceptable treatment of Tourette Syndrome when conventional therapies were ineffective or detrimental.

Cannabinoids also modulate brain neurotransmitter systems, making it possible to treat Tourette Syndrome or reduce symptoms of tics. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized single-dose study, researchers sought to investigate the safety and efficacy of different doses of THC in 12 Tourettes Syndrome patients. They assessed tic severity using Tourette Syndrome Symptom List, cross-checking with different clinical examiners' rating scales and assessing other behavioral disorders. The maximum plasma concentrations of THC were correlated with the clinical improvements or changes. Researchers saw improvements in motor, vocal, and complex motor tics and obsessive compulsive behavior disorder. The severity score even dropped from 41 to 7 within two hours of delta-9-THC administration, with relief lasting several hours. The treatment did not cause adverse events aside from mild occurrences of psychoactive side effects. Followup studies confirmed these results.

This information has been provided by Marijuana Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: Cannabis Dispensaries Not Properly Training Workers

Photo Credit: WikiMedia/Ganja Cult/Nickolette (http://bit.ly/2uMIHKD)

Photo Credit: WikiMedia/Ganja Cult/Nickolette (http://bit.ly/2uMIHKD)

A new study has found cannabis dispensary employees are not properly trained, and that their medicinal marijuana advice is faulty. Of the 55 dispensary employees who were surveyed in Colorado, California, Arizona, Oregon, DC, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine, only 55% received formal training from their jobs, and only 20% were trained on the health benefits of cannabis. Researchers also found their recommendations were wrong or inappropriate when it comes to treating specific medical conditions. For example, 13% of workers recommended high-THC strains for treating anxiety, and 7% recommended THC instead of CBD for treating epilepsy. 

This is one of the reasons our CannaBest Medical app is so helpful. With all of the misinformation floating around the dispensaries, it can be difficult to know whether or not you are purchasing the right medication. With our tool, the power to understand your medical marijuana dose is in your hands. If you don't know where to begin, you can refer to our symptom-specific guidelines, which are compiled based on aggregates of our anonymous users' effective journal submissions. These guidelines are personally approved by our Chief Medical Officer before published. If you already have an idea of where to begin, you can monitor your dosing regimen by journaling daily so that you can see the efficacy of your dosing routine and tailor it to better meet your needs. Having this understanding of your dosing regimen when you visit a dispensary will help you make a more informed decisions without having to rely on the recommendations of others.

This information has been partially provided by Marijuana Business Daily and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

New Cannabis Inhaler Changes the Way Doctors Administer Medical Marijuana

Photo Credit: Getty

Photo Credit: Getty

Syqe Medical, a company in Tel Aviv Israel, may have developed a tool that will revolutionize the way patients administer medical cannabis. Their 3D-printed cannabis inhaler not only delivers precise dosing quantities, but it also allows doctors to supply the patients via remote control. The inhalers come pre-loaded with 100-microgram cartridges that can be accessed and controlled wirelessly by doctors and health professionals who need administer and monitor its usage.

Chairman of the company, Etan Hyam, explains, “For doctors, the inhaler solves the problem of prescribing plants for smoking, and offers a solution for patients in that, for the first time, they will be able to receive a precise dose of medical cannabis.” The cannabis inhaler is already approved by the Israeli government for use this year. Elon Eisenberg, director of the Pain Research Department at Rambam Medical Center in Israel, praises this development, saying, “The development of this inhaler fulfills our greatest hopes, to be able to administer accurate and reliable doses of cannabis….[It’s] a breakthrough in cannabis treatment and the medical use of cannabis in Israel and around the world.”

This information has been provided by Marijuana Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

Photo Credit: High Times Magazine

If you are a medical marijuana patient, it is important to monitor the frequency and amount of medication you use throughout your dosing regimen. It is also necessary to track whether your dosing regimen is alleviating or exacerbating your symptoms, and whether new symptoms develop. Although extremely rare, chronic cannabis users can develop what's known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), which is a rare form of cannabinoid toxicity characterized by episodes of extreme nausea and vomiting. CHS develops in longtime, heavy, and excessive cannabis consumers. One clinical study from Philadelphia, PA, found the average duration of use before the onset of symptoms was 16 years, but few users experienced symptoms as early as 3 years of use. Those who suffer from CHS often take long hot showers to alleviate their symptoms, and the study from Philadelphia suggests this may be because “hot bathing may act by correcting the cannabis induced disequilibrium of the thermoregulatory system of the hypothalamus.”

It comes as a surprise that cannabis, which is known for its antiemetic properties and used to reduce nausea, can actually cause it through overconsumption. Patients must carefully monitor these developments, as the natural tendency may be to increase dosing which could be worse for symptoms. By journaling on our CannaBest app daily, we make it easy for you to track the efficacy of your dose, so that you can see if your dose provides symptom relief or causes you to develop new and unwanted symptoms. You can also export your journal entries so that you can share this information directly with your physician, so that he or she can help you better understand what you are suffering and make recommendations for relief. Journal daily for the best accuracy. 

This information has been provided in part by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Medical Cannabis Studies Being Conducted Throughout U.S. and Internationally

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana is that there are few large scale clinical trials sufficient enough to provide evidence of medical marijuana's benefits. There are countless small scale studies or non human trials, but few large scale studies with quality product have been conducted. This is mainly due to medical marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug, which makes access to the plant difficult. That being said, restrictions are becoming loosened, and several hospitals and research centers around the world and across the nation are currently looking into various therapeutic aspects of cannabis.

The University of Miami’s Project to Cure Paralysis and Miller School of Medicine is beginning to look into the use of CBD for concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Thomas Jefferson University recently founded a medical marijuana research institute in Philadelphia, where it will first investigate the use of THC and CBD for epilepsy, PTSD, and chronic neuropathic pain. St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut will examine the use of cannabis as a pain reliever and replacement for opiates for patients who have suffered traumatic injuries. Connecticut Hospice Inc. in Branford will look into the use of cannabis for hospice care, examining how marijuana might alleviate pain and nausea and increase appetite in terminally ill patients. Lastly, AXIM® Biotechnologies, will begin studying cannabis-based CBD gum for the relief of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in the Netherlands.

Read more about the specific ways in which these studies are being conducted in this article provided by Medical Marijuana Inc., and stay tuned for the updated results of these exciting new studies. This information has been approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: Cannabis May Improve Cognitive Function

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

The preliminary results of a study led by Mclean Hospital's Staci Gruber, PhD, and published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology suggest cannabis may be effective in improving cognitive function. The longitudinal study hopes to test the neurocognitive outcomes of 24 certified medical marijuana patients before treatment and after 3, 6, and 12 months of treatment. Currently, 11 of the 24 patients have completed their 3-month evaluation, but results already suggest that after 3 months of treatment patients completed an array of cognitive tests faster and with higher accuracy than they had before. Gruber explains, “After three months of medical marijuana treatment, patients actually performed better, in terms of their ability to perform certain cognitive tasks, specifically those mediated by the frontal cortex.” 

Additionally, the researchers use self-report questionnaires to see how medical marijuana affects patients' sleep quality, depression levels, overall health, and use of conventional medications. So far, patients have reported less sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression, positive changes to their quality of life, greater energy, fewer limitations on behalf of physical health, and a reduction in use of prescription medications. Opiate use, specifically, went down by about 42.88%, while antidepressant use dropped by 17.64%, and mood stabilizing medication use dropped by 33.33%.

This information has been brought to you by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

3 Smoke-Free Ways of Consuming Medical Cannabis

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

For some patients, smoking marijuana can be harsh and painful on their lungs. When combustion occurs while smoking the dried plant, carcinogens and toxins are released that are not necessarily the healthiest on the lungs. There are other forms of consuming medical marijuana, however. If you'd like a method of intake similar to smoking but less harmful, you might consider vaporization, of which temperatures heat just below the point of combustion so that it releases steam instead of smoke. Vaporizers have little odor, and they are more efficient in releasing their therapeutic chemicals so that you may find yourself using less marijuana than before. 

Another way to consume marijuana is by eating it via the edible. Edibles usually require marijuana infused oil or butter that then seeps into whatever food is being created. It takes longer to feel the effects of an edible, and it is often considered stronger, so it is recommended to start low and gradually increase until you find the dose that works for you. Because it is food and its ingredients can be measured easily and distributed evenly, it should be easy to portion out fairly accurate doses. The last method of intake we will discuss is the tincture, which is a cannabinoid infused liquid that can be taken orally by placing a few drops underneath the tongue. It only takes a few minutes before the effects start to kick in. 

This information has been brought to you by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Why Medical Marijuana Is Being Used to Treat Addiction

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Medical marijuana is starting to be used to treat various forms of addiction, helping relieve symptoms related to prescription drug, alcohol, and opioid abuse, as well as helping manage drugs and alcohol withdrawals and curbing the use of pharmaceutical medications or more potent drugs. Because medical marijuana is not addictive and produces few side effects, it is beginning to be looked at as a superior recovery drug. It also reduces withdrawal symptoms, which in turn reduces the possibility of relapse.

Additionally, prescription drugs often produce unwanted side effects like constipation, nausea, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness, all of which can be a detriment to the recovery process. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, produces minimal side effects and has the ability to treat these other side effects a patient may be experiencing. 

This information has been provided by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Does Marijuana Actually Help Relieve Pain?

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Medical marijuana is being touted as a powerful analgesic that is as effective as traditional pharmaceuticals and opioids but with a much higher safety profile. Marijuana is effective in treating both acute and chronic pain, and it is a good alternative to traditional treatment options for those who are looking for a long-term solution and new pain management option. Pain is often a symptom of other conditions, so medical marijuana could be helpful for those who are looking to treat pain as a result of MS, migraines, diabetes, and epilepsy. Medical marijuana can change one's perception of pain, affecting how the brain interprets it and how the body reacts to painful stimuli. 

Medical marijuana is able to provide these therapeutic benefits thanks to its chemical properties like cannabinoids and terpenes. The chemical makeup and composition of specific medical marijuana strains determine the effects of the medication, which can range from stimulating bone growth, killing cancer cells, controlling muscle spasms, increasing appetite, and reducing nausea. 

This information has been provided by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Some Conditions Medical Marijuana Can Help Treat

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

The Medicinal Marijuana Association has compiled a list of the top five symptoms patients seek to alleviate using medical marijuana therapy.

Medical marijuana is an analgesic, and it is most commonly prescribed to treat pain. This includes neuropathic pain, AIDS, and spinal cord injuries. In addition to treating pain, medical marijuana shown to be as effective as pharmaceutical pain killers, but with a much higher safety profile, so it is equally effective in treating and reducing addiction brought on by pain killers by allowing patients to ween off of and replace these medications. Because marijuana receptors in the brain are responsible for regulating anxiety and stress, medical marijuana (especially CBD-rich strains) can be beneficial for those who suffer anxiety disorders. Marijuana can also help those who suffer from fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, and pain fall asleep, stay asleep longer, and experience higher quality of sleep.  

Medical marijuana also helps lower levels of depression with fewer side effects than anti-depressants. The medication also helps treat nausea, which is especially effective for cancer and AIDS patients. By reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and inducing appetite, medical marijuana can fight cachexia and help patients to gain weight. This also makes medical marijuana effective for those diagnosed with Crohn's disease, which irritates the small intestine. Medical marijuana therapy can reduce pain and diarrhea while increasing appetite and weight gain. Medical marijuana is also effective in treating muscle spasms and stiffness typical of multiple sclerosis. This helps MS patients improve sleep, walking, and other daily activities that would otherwise interfere with quality of life. 

This information has been provided by Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.