Cannabinoids: Cannabis is a plant native to Central Asia (also known as hemp). From its dried inflorescences it is possible to obtain marijuana, a complex of molecules that act mainly at the level of the central and peripheral nervous system.
The best known are THC – that is, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – and CBD – cannabidiol.
WHAT EFFECTS DOES IT PRODUCE ON THE BODY?
The effects induced by the use of marijuana are varied and essentially depend on the percentage of the different molecules present in the preparation and on the methods of administration.
The main effect is analgesic and relaxing. This happens because the main substances contained in marijuana interact with endocannabinoid receptors, particular proteins responsible for regulating pain, appetite, mood and memory.
Under physiological conditions, to regulate these functions, our body produces substances very similar – endocannabinoids – to those present in plants.
WHAT ARE THE MOLECULES THAT GIVE THE PHARMACOLOGICAL EFFECT?
THC and CBD are by far the most important. The first is in charge of the pharmacological reaction, the second is in charge of the effects of the first.
This is why controlled dosing is essential for achieving a therapeutic effect.
Cannabinoids produced according to the standards belongs to the category of herbal medicines.
But be careful not to think that these two are enough: inside the inflorescences there are hundreds of molecules belonging to the family of terpenes and flavonoids, fundamental to obtain the pharmacological effect as they help the binding of THC and CBD to the receptors.
FOR WHICH PATHOLOGIES IS IT USED?
At the moment, research on the use of medical cannabis is still in its infancy.
On the market there are 5 Cannabinoids-based drugs (produced by the Dutch company Bedrocan) each containing a different percentage of the different active molecules.
In patients undergoing chemotherapy, it is used primarily to control nausea, vomiting and appetite.
Alongside this use, well documented in the scientific literature, there are some studies on the advantages of using cannabinoids in the control of chronic pain.
In addition to these indications, medical marijuana is used but there are still no studies to prove its efficacy in the management of pain in those suffering from multiple sclerosis and Tourette’s syndrome.
In addition, for some years Sativex has been available, a drug containing only THC and CBD useful in the control of muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis.
In this case it is not a question of using the inflorescences and for this reason, as there is a lack of terpenes and flavonoids, studies on Sativex have shown that the product is not effective in controlling pain.
What diseases is Cannabinoids suitable for? How Should It Be Taken?
First of all, a premise: the cannabinoids present in the plant must be activated by a chemical process known as “decarboxylation” to carry out their action.
It is a reaction that occurs when the molecules are subjected to high temperatures, over 100 degrees centigrade.
This is why smoking, vaporization and infusion are among the most used routes.
The choice depends on the desired effect and on the starting pharmaceutical formulation (oil, papers, etc.)