What Is Cannabis Oil, and What Benefits Have People Reported from Its Use?
Country by country, and state by state in the Americas, the world is changing its tune regarding cannabis legislation and law. The US, Canada, South Africa, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are some of the big names, but across the globe cannabis clubs, associations and organisations are emerging.
They’re developing thriving, creative and determined communities who will doubtfully stay hidden for long, as word travels of the benefits to this historically medicinal plant.
However, cannabis is fast turning into a buzz-word, and a lot of the time it can be difficult to filter the real information from the media hype.
What Is Cannabis Oil?
The cannabis plant is recorded in ancient Chinese texts dating to around six thousand years ago, and it was likely in its oil form that people first experimented with its medicinal effects.
Since then, various cultures spanning the breadth of the planet have utilised the herb for its therapeutic qualities, and it wasn’t until the second half of the twentieth century that it gained so much negative press attention that it was almost globally prohibited from public use and production.
Criminalisation of the drug stunted scientific research being made into its effects, but as governments relax their laws, more information is becoming available.
Cannabis oil has the potential to solve a vast array of different, debilitating conditions but so far, most research and mainstream attention has been focussed on just one of its active compounds, Cannabidiol – better known as CBD.
This is likely due to its reported non-intoxicating effect; however, recent studies suggest that something called an ‘entourage effect’ takes place when different cannabis compounds are consumed together (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6334252/).
This would explain why so many first-hand accounts claim to have gained more benefit from full spectrum oils than isolated compounds, such as Epidolex (a pure CBD product marketed by pharmaceutical companies).
Once ingested, cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is believed to monitor bodily functions ranging from metabolism to sleep and homeostasis.
Cannabis oil can be infused into food and eaten, turned into balms, salves and lotions, put into tinctures and capsules, and even spray bottles.
A reputable provider of cannabis oil should be able to provide you with a test strength certificate, which will inform you of the percentages of each cannabinoid within the oil.
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What Are the Benefits of Cannabis Oil?
The benefits of cannabis appear to grow as each day goes by, and it can be difficult to keep track of the different ailments that the media tell us it can cure. There are several conditions, though, which have a substantial body of evidence building behind them, with first hand reports from patients and survivors alike.
On top of the physical conditions that cannabis appears to alleviate, mental health conditions are showing promise when treated with different cannabinoids, with many people using cannabis edibles, tinctures and capsules to reduce their symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.
Below is a summary of the growing list of benefits to cannabis oil, as shown by clinical research trials across the world.
Physical Medical Conditions
Perhaps one of the most well-researched elements to cannabis’ ability to cure, or stabilise, the human body lies in its treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Stories abound online of young children who are able to play with toys for the first time in their lives having been on a cannabis treatment programme for just seven days.
In the UK, an epileptic child was allowed the first ever prescription for legal cannabis. Seven-year-old Alfie Dingley suffered from up to five hundred seizures a month when his mother first treated him with cannabis oil; “He hasn’t had a seizure since he began taking the full leaf oil…” https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/01/mother-says-cannabis-oil-has-been-saviour-for-epileptic-son-alfie).
On top of this, studies into cannabis and chronic pain conditions suggest improvements to pain management for a great number of people suffering from ailments ranging from arthritis to Crohn’s.
Movement disorders and spasticity show much promise in cannabis treatments for muscle spasms and the pain that comes with them, with some studies showing more than fifty percent improvements from patient perspectives.
There are clearly a lot of areas needing more research with regard to cannabis treatments, but perhaps one of the most important areas is that of its ability to slow the progression and spread of cancer cells.
The variety of cannabis compounds, combined with the variety of different cancers, makes this an arduous task, but many doctors believe that it could lead to ground-breaking changes to cancer care and treatment.
Mental Health Conditions
To continue the theme, cannabis has also been reported to be useful in improving the mood and outlook of cancer patients, giving hope for resolving some of the mental health aspects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and terminal illness in general, as well as physical recovery possibilities.
More researched, and with a more substantial body of scientific evidence, are the effects of (specifically CBD) cannabis extracts on depression, anxiety, PTSD and even drug addiction. Several studies have found positive correlations with cannabis being used to help the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, with many people using cannabinoids to help them get off harder drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.
Recommendations are to begin with smaller doses, as there are some reports of the opposite effect being achieved when using higher THC strains, working up to a comfortable dose.
Due to the intoxicating and psychoactive nature of THC, there has been far more research into the benefits of CBD extracts on mental health conditions. However, this is beginning to change, as scientists investigate the supposed benefits of using extracts with multiple cannabis compounds in them, and what they call the ‘entourage effect’.
Other Benefits to Cannabis Oil
There are benefits to cannabis oil consumption which reach far beyond physical and mental health. Artists, musicians, actors and creators of all shapes and sizes have used cannabis historically to inspire creativity in their work, whilst many simply use the plant as a means to wind down at the end of a long day, or relax after a busy week.
The recreational use and benefits of cannabis have often been ignored by the mainstream, due to the stigma caused by its illegal nature. But as governments relax their rules, and high street outlets begin stocking CBD products alongside their coconut and essential oils, increasingly more people are experimenting with the possibilities that the cannabis plant holds.
Are there Any Risks?
The biggest risk to consuming cannabis in the modern day lies in the legality of the plant and its compounds in your country and/or state. There still remain a vast amount of world governments who classify cannabis as an illegal drug, which not only hinders access, but also research into further uses of the plant. This being said, even in countries such as the UK, where cannabis remains mostly illegal without an (expensive) private doctor’s prescription, cannabis clubs and cafes are emerging along high streets and in town centres.
These clubs’ aims are to educate people on the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, but also to reduce the stigma attached to cannabis consumption in general by integrating with their local communities. The changing nature of cannabis in law means that it is only in recent times that high quality, evidence-based studies into the science of cannabis have become readily available, and as such it will take time to compile all of this information into something which medical professionals can digest and put to use.
Side effects of cannabis treatments are usually far less serious and problematic to patients than their current pharmacological equivalents, and cannabis is not physically addictive in the same way that opiates and other medications are. Cannabis does interact with the body’s dopamine receptors, however, meaning that users do run the risk of becoming psychologically addicted to it.
There is also some evidence that long-term, regular use of high-strength THC strains of cannabis can lead to mental health problems, and there is a need for more research into this area.