Understanding the Cannabis Plant: How One of the World’s Oldest Medicines Works with Your Body

When it comes to our health and wellness, it seems there’s little the cannabis plant can’t do! From soothing chronic aches and pains to taming anxiety to giving us gentle mood and energy boosts, cannabis is suddenly the medicine of the moment.

Of course, the cannabis plant is nothing new. Long before it was being subjected to clinical trials, Chinese physicians nearly 5,000 years ago recognized the cannabis plant’s ability to treat pain, digestive issues, and many of the other reasons we turn to medical marijuana today.

Still, that doesn’t tell us how the cannabis plant works with our bodies. To answer that question, you’ll want to join us for a brief introduction to the cannabis plant.

The Cannabis Plant: Understanding the Concept of Cannabinoids

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Cannabis is a powerful medication, but it works a bit differently than other drugs. While modern pharmaceuticals generally deliver a single, highly targeted medication, the cannabis plant is unique in that it contains many dozen different medicinal compounds!

The most important is the type called cannabinoids. A class of natural compounds that work in synergy with our bodies, the cannabinoids include two you’ve probably heard of: THC—short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol—and CBD, short for cannabidiol. And while scientists have so far identified no fewer than 113 cannabinoids, we’ll focus most of our attention on these two most important ones.

Thus far, THC is the only cannabinoid that’s been associated with the cannabis plant’s psychoactivity, it’s euphoric “high.” But THC does much more than that, helping us manage pain and insomnia, and soothing nausea and a decreased appetite, among other effects.

CBD doesn’t make you feel high, although some people find it imparts a gentle cerebral stimulation. Instead, the second most abundant cannabinoid exhibits a variety of medically useful effects. It’s an anti-inflammatory, it relieves certain types of pain, and it can help reduce anxiety.

Above and beyond that, CBD has helped treat some difficult-to-manage conditions such as multiple sclerosis and certain seizures. Because it’s non-intoxicating, it’s shown great promise in treating children, or others who shouldn’t be exposed to psychoactivity.

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How do the cannabinoids interact with our body? Through a network called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Although it was only identified about 30 years ago, researchers now believe the ECS is one of the body’s most important regulatory systems. And as its name suggests, it’s designed to work perfectly with the cannabis plant, through specialized receptor cells spread all throughout the body.

The Cannabis Plant: The Wild World of Terpenes

As we’ve written before, cannabis is well-known for its distinctive aroma. But that’s not one aroma you’re smelling, nor is it merely an enticing smell. The compounds that give different strains of cannabis their unique aromas also impart powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, pain-killing and other effects. Welcome to the world of terpenes!

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Terpenes don’t only show up in cannabis; you can find them in countless plants, trees, even some animals! And just as we humans have known about the healing properties of cannabis for millennia, terpenes have been one of the foundations of “folk medicine” for nearly as long. From the Chinese physicians who used terpenes to gently numb pain, to the early healers who found that certain terpenes eased stress and anxiety, humans have leaned on terpenes for centuries.

In the cannabis plant, these distinctive all-natural compounds lend their medicinal effects to those of the cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It’s what researchers often call “the entourage effect,” in which the many compounds in cannabis work in harmony to deliver gentle, sustainable, and all-natural relief.

As we promised, this is only an introduction to the cannabis plant. Keep your eyes on our blog for future educational articles, and if you’d like to know more right now, just ask! We’d love to tell you more about cannabinoids, terpenes, or any other topic in the fascinating world of the cannabis plant!

Ready to experience the power of the cannabis plant for yourself? Find your closest Cloud Cannabis now.