How does medical cannabis affect our bodies?
Medical cannabis works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, the study of which is still in its infancy. Most studies have focused on the cannabinoids THC and CBD; THC is one of the best painkillers known to man, and CBD – also quite an effective painkiller – is known to counteract the ‘high’ effects of THC, while also inducing sleep and reducing anxiety.
“THC and CBD interact and bind with our own inbuilt endocannabinoid system. That system is the master controller of all neural systems in the body,” says Professor Mike Barnes, a pioneering medical cannabis expert. “The nervous system needs modulating – it needs switching off sometimes, for instance to stop pain or stop epilepsy. And that ‘off’ switch, that modulator that controls the nervous systems of the body is the endocannabinoid system. This explains why cannabis as a plant doesn’t have just one action – it works on pain and anxiety and epilepsy. It’s interacting with the endocannabinoid system which in turn, interacts with all bodily functions.”
What quantity and strain of cannabis is right for me?
Getting a medical cannabis prescription means you are guaranteed a high quality product and that you will know exactly what is in it in terms of the strain and the THC and CBD content. These are all variables that can be adjusted in order to ensure that the medical cannabis you are taking is perfectly suited to the condition you are using it to treat.
“One of the main benefits of medical cannabis is that you always know exactly what type you are getting, you know you are being prescribed the right type for your personal needs and you know it is a pure, high quality product,” says Dr Anup Mathew, our consultant psychiatrist. “When you are given a prescription, you know exactly what percentage of THC you are getting compared to CBD. None of this information has been available to patients who have had no option but to buy street cannabis in the past, while the illegality of buying on the street is greatly anxiety-provoking and counterproductive to the conditions it’s being used to treat.”
The same is true of selecting a particular strain for treatment – and there is a vast number of cultivated strains that we are able to choose from.