The Medicine & Science of THC
Science breakthroughs point to potentially meeting many medical needs.
After more than a half century banning research, marijuana is now just starting to reveal some of its hoped-for theraputic potential. Progress is being made in finding and refining treatments for pain of all types, cancers, anxiety and depression, ADHD and Post Traumatic Stress.
Cannabis provides effective pain relief, manages PTSD, controls glaucoma, helps with ADHD and increases appetite for chemo patients... and that may be only the beginning...
Increasingly, research into marijuana recognizes it's effective pain relieving abilities. Even the United States Veteran's Administration accepts doctor approved use of marijuana for veterans, although they cannot offer patients in Colorado a prescription. Not only is it a powerful analgesic - up to three times stronger than aspirin, it amplifies and extends most pharmaceutical pain relievers such as advil, motrin, vicodin, oxycontin and similar pain relievers, including aspirin. This makes addictive pharmaceuticals more manageable, and in some cases, eventually unnecessary.
People using many different types of pain medication can successfully decrease the amount needed by augmenting pill use with marijuana. Many patients using Medical Marijuana have significantly reduced, and in some cases eliminated their reliance on pharmaceuticals. Marijuana's efficacy and safety has truly been time-tested, as humans have been consuming marijuana for many, many thousands of years. - go to all about marijuana -
Besides pain relief, marijuana has long been known to increase appetite, and the word "munchies" describes the sudden hunger that often ensues smoking cannabis. This side-effect has proven to be very beneficial to patients suffering from lack of appetite, either due to medicines they must take, or because the actual ailment itself suppresses appetite. Chemo-therapy patients typically benefit from marijuana, both because it eases discomfort/pain and also because it counters the associated nausea and lack of appetite. Aids patients also use cannabis to safely help them keep and add weight. Weight loss complicates many other ailments besides aids and cancer, and doctors are exploring these possibilities, as well as other medical potential. Just recently, medicines that have been derived from the actual plant material itself have been announced in Europe. A new development, instead of inadequate test-tube replications from chemists' laboratories. Glaucoma is also treatable with medical marijuana. The list goes on and is getting longer. Dawning is a new green sun over the awesome medical potential of this once-despised plant. - watch informative videos on marijuana -
The pain relief from certain strains of marijuana are decidedly more pronounced than others. The cannabinoid CBD is very a very strong pain reducer, and arthritis patients benefit from using strains high in this particular chemical. A favorite pain relieving variety, "Catatonic" provides nearly instant relief with just the first puff. There are other strains reknowned for pain relief, just tell your caregiver what you need and they can help you find an appropriate strain-type or blend of different strains. CBN is another cannabinoid that helps patients sleep. - go to chemotypes charts -
The image to the left shows a female flower top dusted with the whitish trichome "crystals" covering the leafy seed-casings. Trichomes are where the medicine is most concentrated, so look for these on your cannabis buds. The more trichomes present, the more potency there will be. There are three stages of trichome, clear, milky, and amber. As trichomes age the cannabinoids within them are changing too, turning the trichomes white before becoming amber colored. As the curing process continues, the various medicinal qualities of the bud increase and change.
Proper curing is considered essential in order to to bring out the full complement of the plant's active ingredients. The color of the trichomes purportedly indicates strengths of the various active ingredients. Eventually, as cannabis becomes aged or old, the THC breaks down (with light and oxygen) into the other cannabinoids, changing the effect that is produced. Proper curing followed with dark, air-tight storage slows this process down dramatically.
Trichomes contain the active ingredients of marijuana. The color-enhanced electron-microscopic image (left) of trichomes shows the large cells holding the resin that make up the supporting pillar and the glob of resin suspended above the plant surface. This presents a very sticky and strongly scented array, probably a defense against any hungry critters. Unfortunately, deer don't seem to be kept from gobbling down the buds in a few seconds.
These resin structures, these tiny power-houses of active ingredients, trichomes, are not water soluble, but they do melt and vaporize at a relatively low temperature. This is the principle behind vaporizing medical marijuana. The resins turn into vapor at a lower temperature than the cellulose fibers of the plant. There is no smoke, since the kindling point of the plant material is not reached. Nonetheless, the medicine escapes as gas/vapor and can be inhaled without any soot or ash in the mix. - more on vaporizing -
Keeping trichomes cold is the key to producing hashish. The cold-water production process filters out the tiny trichomes from the rest of the plant. The accumulated mass of these miniscule particles of resin is what hash is made of. Dissolved trichomes, melted into various oils or butter provide the mainstay of cannabis-infused edible products. Cooking with infused products is simple, substituting for the standard, non-medicated ingredients to make your favorites. - see recipes -
If you dissolve the trichomes in a solvent such as butane or alchohol, then evaporate the solvent, you're left with hash oil. Hash oil is very concentrated and can be used in a wide variety of ways, from vaporizing and inhaling, to blending into edibles. Modern research is investigating THC concentrates such as hash oil as a salve for various rashes and sores, as a plaster for corns and lately scientific research shows positive results on some skin cancers. Exciting research accelerates into the anti-tumor and cancer-preventative qualities suspected to be present in marijuana. Time will tell. For cannabis aficionados like myself, it only makes sense something that's been exploited by our most distant ancesters could be a safe and powerful medicine today. Why not?
— Sam Anthony