The Health Benefits of Cannabis
By Carter Casad
Memorial Day weekend is upon us and, for the people of Boulder, the highlight is a massive display of community, health, and fitness. The BolderBoulder—one of the largest, most highly celebrated 10K’s in the world—brings more than 50,000 people to share in the spirit of health. During this holiday of reflection and community, we take a moment to celebrate the health benefits of cannabis.
It’s been said that, if scientists stumbled upon cannabis for the first time today, this plant would be heralded as the next miracle drug. By producing compounds called cannabinoids, this flower has evolved a unique ability to mimic and interact with neurotransmitters in the human body.
Had cannabis not yet been discovered, we would not know about the endocannabinoid system, which is present in the brain and nervous system of all mammals. This intricate network of neurotransmitters and receptors plays a key role in the regulation of the immune system and is found to be connected to almost all our organs. The endocannabinoid system has become so important that it is now viewed as the bridge between the body and the mind.
So, what exactly are these cannabinoids and how can they be used to benefit human health? What is science telling us about these compounds?
The Science of Cannabis: Cannabinoids and Your Health
Cannabis contains about 85 cannabinoids that have been identified to date. These include THC, THC-V, CBD, CBG, and CBC, to name a few, but there are many more that have yet to be thoroughly studied. Not only do these cannabinoids have different pharmacological effects, but their effects change when combined with each other. Making things even more complicated are the effect of terpenes in combination with cannabinoids.
Terpenes are the essential oils that make up the aroma cannabis has. The terpenes that give Flaming Cookies its unique scent, are the same terpenes that make lemons, mango, and apples smell the way they do. Researchers are just now beginning to understand the interaction these compounds have with THC, CBD and all the different cannabinoids, known as the Entourage Effect.
THC is perhaps the most well-known cannabinoid. This is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, also responsible for some of the pain-relieving effects. As legal restrictions are loosening, researchers are exploring just what else this cannabinoid does.
One surprising correlation was found in a recent study, where THC was shown to regulate insulin production and even associated cannabis use with a smaller waist circumference. Though further research is needed, these findings may have a significant impact on the obesity and diabetes epidemics we are facing in America.
In the days before potency testing, cannabis breeders selected the plants that had the most psychoactive response—effectively breeding for plants high in THC, while unwittingly selecting against cannabis plants that contained significant amounts of non-psychoactive, but medicinally-beneficial cannabinoids. This trend is mirrored today, even as cannabis has gained a state-regulated market. Emphasis on THC seems to drive consumer decisions; the strain with the highest THC percentage is viewed as the best deal. But what about all those other cannabinoids? What are the potential health benefits we are missing out on?
CBD has recently gained a lot of attention for its anticonvulsant properties and has been used in treating epileptic seizures. CBD doesn’t produce the same psychotropic response that THC does, but new research is showing that it does have some very profound effects.
A 2011 study shows that anxiety is significantly reduced in most people given CBD before speaking publicly. Other research is being done as to the neuroprotective benefits of CBD, and its use in protecting against neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. CBD even holds some promise in dealing with acne. With its low psychotropic response and minimal side effects, CBD is being looked at to replace countless other harsher pharmaceuticals.
In the past, CBD was thought to be found in higher concentrations in hemp than in most smoked cultivars. But with recent breeding efforts cannabis hybrids have been created with a range of CBD potencies and CBD to THC ratios. A few such strains are available through The Farm Craft Cannabis label. Harmonia is one that boasts a near 1:1 THC to CBD ratio. The Farm’s award-winning, Remedy, is another cultivar that produces over 20% CBD and only around 1% THC. Not surprisingly, these strains make for some incredible extracts with very high CBD content; Harmonia cannabis oil is available through the convenient IndigoPro vaporizer cartridges.
CBG is an often-overlooked cannabinoid, but nonetheless very important. Research is still in its infancy and has barely scratched the surface on the specific benefits this compound can bring. CBG is currently being studied for its neuroprotective properties, particularly in protecting against Huntington’s disease.
CBG seems to have some pretty serious anti-inflammatory properties as well, and holds some promise of relief to people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Some cannabis users claim that cannabis with CBG and THC produce less of the “paranoid” and anxious effects seen in some sativa strains with just high THC, purporting the CBG eases out the racy effects these have.
Through a joint research project with a local university, The Farm Genetics™ team has bred its own varieties of cannabis with THC and CBG ratios. MadCow is a strain that touts around a 3:1 THC to CBG ratio. Mountain Thunder, derived from MadCow, has tested as high as 24% THC and 5% CBG.
The Farm Genetics™ artisans continually strive to produce cutting edge cannabis varieties that offer cannabis users a wide range of benefits and effects. They pride themselves in staying current with trends in the cannabis community, as well as blazing new trails in the development of new marijuana genetics.
Ask your friendly Farm budtender about new and exciting products containing CBD and other cannabinoids. And be sure to take advantage of our CBD sale this weekend—you’ll save 20% off on products containing CBD.