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Cannabis Medication for Dummies

Unraveling the Complex World of Cannabis Medication: A Beginner's Guide to Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and More

By Dhrouv PujariPublished about a month ago 3 min read

I recently switched to cannabis medicines from the regular allopathy I was on and it took me a while to wrap my head around the many terms surrounding cannabis. Today I want to do you the favour of explaining them all so you are not in a state of confusion every time something cannabis-related comes up. Let's start with the basics and a place you're most likely familiar with. You must have heard of THC and CBD, but chances are you didn't know they are just 2 of over 140 cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are compounds found naturally in the cannabis plant. They mimic endocannabinoids very closely. You must be thinking, "What are endocannabinoids?" Simply put, endocannabinoids are nothing but neurotransmitters that influence receptors in the body to maintain a range of physiological processes, like homeostasis. Cannabinoids work a lot like endocannabinoids and can be used when the body isn't producing enough endocannabinoids of its own.

If you've already done some research on which cannabis medicine you should try, you probably came across the terms "isolate" and "full-spectrum". An isolate refers to a medicine that uses just one cannabinoid extracted from cannabis, like a CBD isolate or a THC isolate. Full-spectrum, conversely, refers to cannabis extracts that utilise the complete profile of the cannabis plant. This includes all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

I get it, it seems like every time something is explained, another term needs an explanation alongside it. Don't feel daunted though, let's get into what terpenes and flavonoids are. Terpenes are natural compounds in the cannabis plant that essentially contribute to the plant's earthy smell. Flavonoids are also natural compounds found in cannabis that contribute to the flavours and colours of cannabis. While these definitions can get confusing, remember that you don't need to know them all to experience effective symptom control and relief with cannabis medicine.

You might also have heard people refer to the entourage effect of cannabis. It is believed that the many compounds, cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids included, work together synergetically to produce a combined therapeutic effect that is greater than its parts. The entourage effect is purely restricted to full-spectrum cannabis extracts as isolates ensure that there is only one compound working on a therapeutic target. People and patients commonly found that full-spectrum cannabis oils worked better for them before the introduction of detailed medicine profiles on the label. This is unsurprising considering most anecdotal accounts benefitted much more from full-spectrum oils rather than isolates.

Cannabis medical companies often talk about hemp extract. Hemp in this case essentially refers to the stems and leaves of the cannabis plant. While the stems and leaves have a lesser concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes than the bud, the extract has exactly the same effect as cannabinoids extracted from the bud. It's not so important which part of the cannabis plant an extract is made from so long as it contains the component profile of the cannabis plant. In India, cannabis medicine is made from the leaves and stems of the cannabis plant. This doesn't mean it is inferior but simply talks back to the guidelines of using cannabis for medication in India.

Another term you might have encountered in the world of Ayurveda is "Vijaya". Vijaya is simply the Ayurvedic term for cannabis. Any Ayurvedic medicine label that says it contains Vijaya extract simply means that it contains cannabis extract. While there are a lot more terms being used in the universe of cannabis medication, these should hold you steadily while you start newly venturing into using cannabinoids for their therapeutic properties. The next time you read a cannabis medicine product label, I hope you feel more empowered to make an informed choice on which formulation to go with.

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Dhrouv Pujari

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    DPWritten by Dhrouv Pujari

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