We have reached a place in history where it would be completely remiss of us to ignore the mounting evidence in favor of using cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Cannabis is one of the most ancient sources of plant medicine known to humankind, and it has been blacklisted and ignored for way too long.
Should people really be allowed to die in excruciating pain despite the fact that cannabis — an herb with medicinal properties that has been used since antiquity — can alleviate that pain? It depends on who you ask… Ask parents who are forced to watch their children suffer at the hands of an ugly and aggressive cancer when they’re denied pain-free living because of restrictions on a herb.
Ask governmental officials, who lie in bed with pharmaceutical powerhouses dreaming up ways to make millions off their patents on potent compounds found in medicinal marijuana. Until a sure way for the “big guys” to make millions is secured, the rest of us will suffer at the hands of outdated, nonsensical laws that are supposed to be in place to protect and support the people… come on.
Turning a blind eye to the accumulation of anecdotal and scientific research seems almost shameful, especially in light of what continues to be discovered and the rate at which conditions such as diabetes and cancer continue to eat away at our nation’s health. Clearly, where conventional medicine has failed, alternatives such as cannabis oil can and are starting to fill the gap.
Although I have not personally used cannabis oil, I would certainly consider it as a complement to any variety of alternative and conventional therapies if my physical condition warranted it. Yes, I would risk being arrested for the sake of taking responsibility for my health. I am a mother with three children and if using cannabis oil, or any other part of the cannabis plant, effectively allowed me to continue to be a mother… I would not refuse it.
I truly believe that much of the issue with embracing cannabis and cannabis oil as a therapeutic aid has been inappropriately ingrained in us starting with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and followed up in the 1970s by the Controlled Substance Act whereby the plant’s organic compounds (cannabinoids) were classified as a Schedule I drug.
This classification puts the plant in the same pool as heroin and states that cannabis possesses “a high potential for abuse… no currently accepted medical use … [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug… under medical supervision.”
In contrast, cocaine and methamphetamine — illegal for recreational use, may be consumed under a doctor’s supervision and are classified as Schedule II drugs. Examples of Schedule III and IV drugs include anabolic steroids and Valium. Analgesics that contain codeine are defined by law as Schedule V drugs, the most lenient classification.
The good news is, the retaining wall put up to keep Americans in the dark has been consistently springing leaks, brought about by solid peer-reviewed research that can no longer be ignored. In fact, there are over 20,000 published reviews and studies in scientific literature that pertain to the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, almost one-third of these have been published in the last four years. A keyword search on PubMed Central (the US government library of peer-reviewed scientific research) shows 2,100 studies since 2011 alone.
Cannabis essential oil is the most potent part of the herb Cannabis sativa L, which includes the cannabis flower (aka marijuana), resin (aka hashish) and oil (aka cannabis oil). The oil is a thick and resinous substance loaded with cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) that are obtained by a process of steam distillation from the flowers and upper leaves of the plant.
Medicinal value of cannabinoids
Cannabis contains a number of cannabinoids including THC and CBD. These well-known cannabinoids are secreted by cannabis flowers and hold a tremendous therapeutic value.
Cannabinoids bind to receptors found in the brain and throughout the body and imitate compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids. These compounds help to maintain internal stability and health.
Although THC is the best-known cannabinoid, mostly for its psychoactive properties, it also contains neuroprotective and analgesic properties. Much of the medicinal benefits of cannabis are attributed to CBD, which is also thought to reduce the psychoactive impacts of THC.
THC and CBD are not the only cannabinoids found in cannabis, the plant is actually loaded with non-psychoactive compounds that show promise for helping with a wide variety of conditions.
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) — Appetite suppressant and some evidence of its ability to alleviate symptoms in metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
- Cannabigerol (CBG) — This is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that appears to help fight glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disorders, and bacterial infections such as MRSA.
- Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA) — This compound does not have any psychoactive effects, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.
- Cannabichromene (CBC) — This cannabinoid has been found to stimulate bone growth and inhibit inflammation and pain.
- Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) — This compound has anti-inflammatory properties and helps with nausea and vomiting.
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV) — Research has shown that this compound may be helpful in relieving epilepsy.
What are terpenes?
Botanical remedies like cannabis are interesting because their effectiveness can be enhanced through interaction with secondary compounds. Certain secondary compounds create a sort of synergy that boosts overall effectiveness, while others may block negative side effects. This natural occurrence is known as an entourage effect.
Research shows that compounds naturally occurring in cannabis such as terpenes (produced by a number of plants) enhance the benefits found in THC and CBD, and contribute in a positive way towards the plant’s entourage effect.
Depending on how a cannabis plant is grown, it contains a variety of different beneficial terpenes — this is what is used to differentiate strains. The health benefits of the more than 120 different terpenes found in cannabis range from increased circulation to enhanced neurological function and altered cell permeability. Terpenes are also what give cannabis plants their unique aroma and flavor.
A study conducted by the Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture found 16 different terpenoid compounds in the essential oils of cannabis strains. Found in high concentration were myrcene and limonene.
Myrcene contains antibacterial, muscle-relaxing, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and analgesic compounds. In addition, myrcene helps improve the permeability of cell membranes and allows for more cannabinoids to reach the brain. This makes it useful for such conditions as depression, muscle and joint issues, infection and heart disease.
Limonene is found in the rinds of many citrus fruits and has potent antibacterial, antifungal, antidepressant and anticarcinogenic properties.
Other terpenes found in cannabis contain properties to help with the following:
- Anxiety disorders
- Brain stimulation
- Muscle relaxation
- Mental focus
- Cognitive function
What does all this mean for health?
The combined effects of the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis are what make it of such high therapeutic value. Here are just some of the conditions that are being helped by the use of cannabis oil.
Heart health: The volatile oils in cannabis can help to improve heart health by balancing out negative oils. In addition, the antioxidants in the oil help to keep cholesterol from building up on artery walls.
Insomnia: Cannabis oil helps to relax both the mind and the body by inducing a lower energy level. This helps to reduce heart rate and clear your head so you can rest.
Pain relief: People with inflammation, chronic pain or acute pain are being helped by the use of cannabis oil. This is one of the reasons people suffering from the pain of cancer and chemotherapy are turning to the oil for relief.
Stress and anxiety: The THC in cannabis is a well-known stress reducer and is also very effective at relaxing the mind, releasing pleasure hormones, and inducing a sense of relaxation and peace.
Cancer prevention: Much research is taking place into the use of cannabis oil. Reports show that the active ingredients in cannabis essential oil have preventative compounds and may also help reduce tumor size.
In the news
Despite research-based proof that the cannabis plant has far-reaching medicinal value, there still remains much controversy over its use.
I was shocked, saddened and angered by a news report that I came across from January of this year. The story went like this. An Australian man, Adam Koessler, was desperately searching for something to help his two-year-old daughter who was suffering with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops in the nerve tissue of the adrenal glands, neck, chest, or spinal cord. By the time the disease gets to stage 4, the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Koessler had turned to using cannabis oil and coconut mixed in his daughter’s food and found that her condition improved markedly. He said his daughter had energy, stopped complaining of pain, was eating and enjoying life in a much fuller way than ever before. “What we saw when Rumer was given the medical cannabis oil was nothing short of miraculous,” said Koessler.
However, this gift from nature, which gave a little girl life once again, had been taken away. Her father was arrested for supplying dangerous drugs to a person under 16 as well as possessing dangerous drugs. Despite his plea that the cannabis significantly helped his daughter’s condition, Australian authorities, who still classify marijuana as a dangerous drug along with heroin, were not bending.
Although we are seeing more and more states embrace the effectiveness of medical marijuana, we still have a long way to go. Not long ago, a man in Iowa suffering from an aggressive form of cancer was growing his own marijuana to keep the tumors under control. Benton Mackenzie and his wife were charged with conspiring to grow marijuana after his home was raided. During the raid, authorities found plants and some marijuana in the couple’s son’s room as well. Consequently, the son was also charged with drug possession.
All three received probation and Mackenzie had to promise to live the rest of his life marijuana-free or go to jail. Of course, his condition rapidly declined after this and less than two years after the arrest he died at the age of 49. His family are still convinced that the marijuana was effective and provided him a quality of life that he was subsequently denied. They had to watch him suffer right up until his death, without access to the only thing that offered him relief. So sad…
Stan and Barb Rutner are convinced of the therapeutic value of cannabis. This couple has stood in the face of cancer a number of times and survived to learn from their experiences.
Barb had two bouts of breast cancer and Stan was diagnosed 20 years ago with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which, after treatment, disappeared. However, in 2011, it returned. Cancerous nodes in his lungs were diagnosed and later he was told that the cancer was in his brain. The outlook was grim indeed.
As he went through the harsh treatment of chemotherapy and radiation, Stan and his family wanted to find a natural solution that would help improve his quality of life and even prolong it. Hearing that cannabis was effective in helping with the pain and other effects of chemotherapy, they were more than open to give it a try. According to Stan and Barb, medical cannabis was the golden ticket.
The Rutner’s daughter, Corinne and her husband did some research and it was decided that a daytime cannabis capsule infused in coconut oil would be a good choice. After two weeks of taking the capsule, Stan was able to give up his oxygen tank that he was tied to around the clock. He began to gain weight, sleep better and get stronger overall. After several months, a brain scan revealed that Stan was completely cancer-free.
The Rutners are convinced that cannabis works as an anticancer medicine. According to John, the Rutner’s son-in-law, “There is no doubt in my mind that cannabis pulled my father-in-law out of the wasting stages of cancer and enabled him to gain strength and in turn fight this horrible cell malfunction with success. While many would say that the chemo and radiation could have played a part, he would never have lived long enough to find out without cannabis oil.”
So, while our government continues to balk at the medicinal use of marijuana for people who are sick, hurting and dying, they actually hold a patent on a number of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. Seems slightly hypocritical does it not?
Government officials are pushing for non-smoking, ingestible pill-form alternatives to medicinal marijuana that would contain only THC, nothing else. If this actually happens, the medicinal value of cannabis would be completely squashed. It is the diverse mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes that give cannabis its potency. Extracting one component can’t possibly provide the same treatment efficacy as using the whole plant.
However, and listen closely, unless pharmaceutical companies can patent the whole plant (which they can’t), they can only make millions by isolating certain cannabinoids for certain conditions.
A word of warning
Never use cannabis oil that has been obtained from any other source than a reputable medical provider. Cannabis oil sold elsewhere may contain harsh contaminants and very little effective THC, CBD, other cannabinoids and terpenes. Obtaining the highest quality oil is paramount.