What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a powerful herb historically found in many medications for its bountiful capabilities in treating a myriad of conditions and diseases. There is documentation proving Cannabis Sativa use in early China as treatment for blood clots, tapeworms and even use as an anesthetic. Ancient Egyptian scrolls show its ability to treat inflammation, and early America commonly prescribed it in tincture form for the treatment of epilepsy, rabies & even morning sickness! The Cannabis plant has 3 main sub-species: Sativa, Indica & Ruderalis; the latter more commonly referred to as hemp. Touted for its industrial capabilities, hemp fibers have long been used to create textiles, fuel, pulp & more. Though it’s legal status changed dramatically in the early 1900’s to a prohibited substance due to its relation to Cannabis Sativa/Indica, at one point in time there were penalties in place for not growing hemp - the first government subsidized crop in Eastern Canada. The main difference between the subspecies is the presence of THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for making users feel high or stoned. Cannabis Sativa and Indica naturally have high levels of this specific cannabinoid where Ruderalis has almost none. On the flip side, Ruderalis has naturally high levels of CBD, the medicinal non-psychoactive compound, where Sativa/Indica have much less. Though scientists have identified over 85 other compounds in the cannabis plant, more research is yet to come on how those compounds affect the human experience through our Endocannabinoid System.
What is THC?
THC puts the ‘dope’ in dopamine – literally! THC is the primary chemical compound responsible for many of cannabis’ psychoactive effects. Its main objective is to stimulate brain cells to create dopamine, your body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemical - part of why it’s so easy to love this plant. THC starts out as an acid and is activated by applying heat, effectively removing a carbon chain and producing it’s famed psychoactive experiences. It has been touted to assist with chronic pain relief, depression, opiate reduction & more. It’s safe to say that any psychoactive/psychedelic substance should be approached cautiously and used moderately. Consuming THC in micro or macro doses can cause some consumers to experience hallucinogenic visions, as well as initiate or exacerbate feelings of paranoia and anxiety.
What is CBD?
As a therapeutic shining star, CBD is the non-psychoactive chemical compound in Cannabis that is quickly gaining traction for it’s medicinal benefits. Entry-level canna-curious tend to be most comfortable starting their journey with Cannabis here, as it’s general response is a feeling of wellness or wellbeing - with none of the ‘high’ associated with THC. CBD has been reported to be effective in treatment for inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, psychosis, epilepsy & more. Most notably CBD is being researched for it’s cancer-fighting properties in a bid towards a more natural treatment…Did you know that chemotherapy was discovered because of Mustard Gas? Enough said! It’s also important to note that CBD has shown promising results in applications with children & animals due to its lack of psychedelic effects. More recently, CBD has been removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned substances list for 2018, allowing for its use by professional athletes for pain management & muscle recovery without interfering with performance – a huge step forward for cannabis normalization.
What is Microdosing?
The concept of micro-dosing refers to the use of stimulants (and other drugs) in minute doses for the purpose of research. This type of dosing method allows for cellular changes to be identified without producing behavioral changes in the subject. When we apply that to cannabis use, it’s the idea of using the plant for it’s wondrous health benefits, but controlling the amount so one does not get high or stoned - to achieve overall enhancement. This type of cannabis intake is more easily applied using products in edible, tincture & vaporizer form, as the dosing is far more precise than smoking a joint or pipe. A generally accepted starting point for micro-dosing cannabis is 2.5-5mg of THC, gradually building up until the desired effects are achieved - a practice most commonly used in therapeutic uses and fitness. We always recommend new users to start their cannabis journey using micro-dosing practices as it’s the easiest way for you to learn how your body responds to the introduction of THC allowing you to skip over all those pot brownie horror stories you heard in University. Check out this great article about micro-dosing Cannabis and its applications in therapy and fitness here: Cannabis and Yoga: Experiencing a Deeper Practice
The Green Renaissance
What is the Endocannibinoid System?
Believe it or not, your body is set up right out of the womb to be able to accept cannabinoids because of a biological regulatory system called the Endocannabinoid system (ECS). Recently discovered in the early 90’s, stemming from research into the Cannabis plant - one could refer to the ECS as if it were a map, directing cannabinoids to their appropriate place within the body. The ECS is present naturally in all mammals, allowing for the creation, absorption and redirection of cannabinoids to multiple receptors throughout the body. The ECS is responsible for producing chemical responses to injuries & inflammation as well as protective mechanisms against numerous dis-eases and ailments. What does that mean? It means your body is naturally set up to produce cannabinoids as well as successfully accept phyto-cannabinoids from the Cannabis plant – so when you’re low, you can top up naturally! In addition, it has been shown that the ECS strengthens the body’s nervous and immune systems, initiates cell production, and is responsible for increasing ‘our ability to try out new perspectives and experiences. When we try new things, we…change our brain functions… in a process called ‘neuroplasticity.’ (Uwe Blesching, PhD – Cannabis Health Index)
What are Trichomes?
The treasure box of Cannabis plants! By definition trichomes are outer appendages that grow on a multitude of plants for the purpose of: reflecting radiation, managing plant temperature, protection from other injurious species, collecting pollen and reducing water loss. In Cannabis, they resemble tiny clear stalks with a bulbous top; within this sphere lie all the phyto-cannabinoids and aromatic terpenes that are responsible for Cannabis’ psychoactive and healing properties. Modern research has been primarily focused on understanding THC and medicinally, CBD – with a growing interest in identifying the properties of 85+ additional compounds found in the same sphere.
What are Terpenes?
Terps! You’ve likely heard this term before and wondered what is was referring to. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds responsible for the smell and flavor of Cannabis, as well as some medicinal properties. Terpenes can be found across all plant species, some common ones that occur in Cannabis are:
Myrcene - it is responsible for the earthy aroma of the plant. High myrcene levels in cannabis cause ‘couch-lock’. Myrcene can also be found in bay leaves, eucalyptus & lemongrass.
Pinene – it is responsible for the pine & fir smell of some cannabis plants. Reported to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects.
Limonene - a strong citrus aroma, strains with high amounts of limonene produce uplifting effects. Also a natural insecticide & is showing promise in clinical trials for cancer treatment and weight loss.
Linalool - responsible for the floral and lavender aromas, this terpene has a recorded history of use as a sleep aid. Induces feelings of relaxation and comfort, combined with anti-inflammatory effects.
What are Cannabinoids?
For the purpose of this quick lesson in body chemistry, we are going to focus on two main types of Cannabinoids: Endo & Phyto. Endocannabinoinds refer to chemical compounds the human brain generates to regulate itself through it’s Endocannabinoid System. Phytocannabinoids refer to plant-produced chemical compounds that can be administered to the human body for the same biological purposes. Chemically the difference between the two is the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in endocannabinoids but not in phyto. Anandamide, possibly the most commonly known endocannabinoid, is commonly referred to as the ‘bliss molecule’ and is the body’s natural dopamine transporter. This can be seen as the natural equivalent to THC, a phytocannabinoid responsible for stimulating the brain to create dopamine.
Midrange levels of THC with higher CBD values create a balanced experience in the mind and body. Enough stimulation to keep you on the task at hand without distraction, and without fatigue.