Dr. William Courtney, a member of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, has come out as a strong proponent not only of the medical benefits of cannabis, but also its use as a dietary essential. That is a strong endorsement indeed. Dr. Donald Abrams is another medical doctor who does cutting-edge research in the medical use of cannabis. He says, “Cannabis is a medicine that is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and probably has some direct activity against cancerous cells.” Both of them cannot speak highly enough of its positive effects, either as a preventative or as a therapeutic medicine.
The active compounds in cannabis are called cannabinoids (in fact, one class of cannabinoids occur naturally in our nervous and immune systems). When taken internally, the botanical phytocannabinoids will bind to specific receptors in our cells to produce various pharmacological and somatic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system. Dr. Courtney states that cannabis “helps our body’s regulatory system be more effective…it helps all 210 cell types function more effectively.” The most notable cannabinoid that had first come to the attention of research is the famous tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive compound of the strain cannabis sativa, responsible for its bringing on an unmistakable euphoric high. But another cannabinoid that has come to the forefront in recent years that shows as much or even more benefit in a broader therapeutic context is cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with many overall healing properties for an ailing body.
There are many strains of cannabis, primary of which are cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. The better-known cannabis sativa is high in THC and has low or no CBD, giving it more of a mental emphasis on the psychoactive state of “feeling high.” The immediate benefits of THC lean more toward relieving stress, anxiety, and conditions like ADHD. Cannabis sativa is therefore recommended for those with issues of depression and mental stress. For example, it can benefit those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Cannabis indica has a much higher level of CBD, with lower or almost no THC, depending on the particular strain. CBD is considered much more effective on the body: It relaxes muscles, works effectively as a general analgesic (pain reliever), and helps with sleep. It has more of a pronounced medical effect, especially for cancer patients wanting to relieve pain and the side effects of chemotherapy. It promotes a relaxed, laid back sense of well-being. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, especially for chronic inflammation, such as arthritis. Research is showing it to be the primary agent in cannabis for inhibiting cancer cell growth. Cannabis indica soothes and heals, but does not produce an unwanted “high.”