The Role of Cannabis in Herbal Medicine
The Role of Cannabis in Herbal Medicine
Medicinal cannabis is developed from derivatives of the Cannabis sativa plant and is used to treat a variety of health conditions. This plant contains several active compounds such as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), which are the most researched Cannabinoids. THC is generally used as recreational cannabis while CBD is the non–euphoric and non–intoxicating compound that provides medicinal benefits and comes in the form of oils, gummies, drinks, etc.
Cannabis in Mainstream Medicine
According to a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, cannabis can help ease nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. Low appetite, anxiety, and Tourette's syndrome are examples of other conditions that can be improved or managed with cannabis.
In 2018 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed that Epidiolex, a medication derived from cannabis, is helpful in treating two rare and severe types of epilepsy that do not respond well to other medications. This is the first FDA-approved drug that is developed from purified CBD.
Potential Health Benefits of Cannabis
In recent years CBD has become very popular due to its potential health benefits. Examples of health conditions that can be treated with cannabis include the following:
High Blood Pressure
A 2017 study from JCI Insight found that CBD is helpful for lowering blood pressure. In this study, CBD was shown to reduce resting blood pressure and blood pressure after the completion of stress tests such as isometric exercise and mental arithmetic.
A study conducted by the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research has shown that CBD is helpful in reducing inflammation and neuropathic pain. This study shows that CBD was able to reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decrease the migration and adhesion of immune cells.
In a preclinical study conducted by Neurotherapeutics in 2015, it was found that CBD can treat anxiety disorders such as general anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorders
A 2020 report published by Molecular Diversity Preservation International stated that CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids are effective in preventing and treating gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD help reduce and prevent the symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders.
CBD is commonly used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients. However, a 2016 report published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine has noted that CBD can also prevent cancer cell growth and induce cell death in cervical cancer cell lines. Thus, CBD has the potential to treat a variety of cancers by strengthening the immune system.
Over the last decade, several studies have shown that CBD is useful in treating epilepsy and other seizure disorders. For example, a 2020 study by Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment shows that CBD can reduce seizure symptoms and seizure frequency.
Trends in Medical Cannabis
Although most research studies have focused on CBD and THC, scientists and researchers continue to look for medicinal benefits in other cannabinoids as well. Cannabis-based products have become very popular in recent years. The United Kingdom (UK) has set up a registry of medical cannabis patients to speed up medical cannabis research and the Israeli Ministry of Health (IMOH) has been issuing licenses for the use of cannabis in treating disease since 2007. In addition, almost two-thirds of the states in the US have legalized medical cannabis. According to a 2021 poll from the Pew Research Center, 60% of Americans believe that cannabis should be legalized for both medicinal and recreational use. The positive global trends that we see in the acceptance and adoption of medical cannabis show that medical cannabis has a bright future in mainstream medicine.