Guess what? Marijuana is a very useful plant – and not just for smoking! Over the plant’s long history with human civilization, it has had a wide variety of functions; from industrial to medical applications and now to recreational purposes. It has been consumed by cannabis connoisseurs over the years, and is now approaching the dawn of its popularity and acceptance.
However, the history of the cannabis plant in popular culture is unfortunately linked to a lack of knowledge and a rise of common misconceptions which surround the plant. As with any technology, practice or material that is being rediscovered, we have to breakthrough the unrealistic fears and expectations that surround it. What’s that phrase again – knowledge sets you free? Brush up on your cannabis-speak and learn everything you can about this very useful plant.
Fear and Expectation
Have no fear; cannabis is here! There is absolutely no need to fear that which you do not know. A fear of cannabis understanding is what has isolated us from the limitless possibilities the plant presents. The restricting nature of fear stops us examining new possibilities and ensures that the status quo continues.
Did you know that in the 1850s New York was flush with Hashish Cafes? They were frequented by all classes of society – much like our coffee houses today. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the process of negating the plant received traction.
You might recall another ban around that time called “Prohibition” which removed peoples right to consume alcoholic drinks. Luckily, the alcohol ban was lifted. Unfortunately, the marijuana ban was not.
Personal and Social Well Being
It’s reasonable to say that we focus on one aspect of the cannabis plant, the flowering buds. That’s because it’s the “fun” part. There are an array of benefits from the cannabis plant that I’m sure you don’t know about!
- A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading.
- Cannabis consumption decrease anxiety.
- THC slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
- The drug eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.
- It keeps you skinny and helps your metabolism.
- Marijuana spurs creativity in the brain.
It’s time to broaden your understanding of the benefits marijuana. This is a very useful plant that provides a host of benefits to the entrepreneur, the researcher, the inventor and to each and every person.
Hemp production requires little pesticides and no herbicides. However, at this point, harvesting is labor intensive – which increases the price of the pulp. New inventive ways to harvest are needed to make hemp pulp a viable competitor to wood pulp. Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. And we are in the era of rediscovery. So hop on board, the cannabis revolution could be your opportunity.
Our Endocannabinoid System
There are over 100 cannabinoids in the plant that interact with our own endocannabinoid systems. That means that when marijuana is consumed, there are natural receptors in our bodies that work with it. You can think of it like this: although we are putting something into our bodies from outside our bodies, they have their own natural occurring cannabinoids to interact with it. They are so similar in type and effect that it is known as "the body’s own cannabinoid system.”
Our ECS is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. Two of our most relevant receptors are expressed predominantly in the brain and immune system respectively.
You can see we are equipped with the biological equipment to process and interact with cannabinoids. They are connected with two aspects of our health that we all agree are of great importance. Namely, our mental health and our ability to remain in robust physical condition.
What if I were to tell you that the receptors in our brain work with marijuana to produce new brain cells. Yes, l,adies and gentlemen we’re talking about: neurogenesis.
Marijuana acts with the brain to create new brain cells. Cannabis stimulates the activity of progenitor cells. In everyday language, that means parent cells.
What else does marijuana do to the brain? It inhibits the stress response. This is done by limiting the excessive arousal of cells, which in turn reduces excitability. The excitability factor in cells is linked directly to the production of anxiety. Marijuana therefore reduces overall stress. How great is that?
We know that stress states have a direct negative effects on the:
- Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems
- Digestive System
- Muscular System
- Sexuality and Reproductive System
- Immune System
Cannabis in Healthcare
Everyday, growers and producers are finding new uses and applications for cannabis. We are seeing advances in biodegradable plastics, antimicrobial and antifungal properties of hemp clothing, development in biofuels, dermatological treatments, building materials, foods, and nutrition supplements.
Just take a look at the myriad of opportunities cannabis provides in healthcare:
- Reduce nausea and vomiting
- Suppress seizure activity
- Combat psychosis disorders
- Combat inflammatory disorders
- Combat neurodegenerative disorders
- Combat tumor and cancer cells
- Combat anxiety and depression disorders
You’re able to use every part of the cannabis plant as well! Especially the “shake.” To learn more about how to cook with shake, head over to our series Baked: Cooking with Mary Jean.
After all is said and done, you have to agree; cannabis is a very useful plant.