Medical cannabis , or medical marijuana , refers to the use of cannabis and its cannabinoids to treat disease or improve symptoms. The use of cannabis as a medicine has not been rigorously scientifically tested.
The medical use of cannabis is legal in certain countries, including Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Today Australia joined the league.
Don’t get it wrong though, recreational use of cannabis is illegal in these countries and most parts of the world.
Marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses or symptoms. These chemicals in marijuana are called cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are chemicals related to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol(THC), marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient. Other than THC, the marijuana plant contains more than 100 other cannabinoids. Scientists as well as illegal manufacturers have produced many cannabinoids in the lab. Some of these cannabinoids are extremely powerful and have led to serious health effects when abused.
The body also produces its own cannabinoid chemicals. They play a role in regulating pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, body movement, awareness of time, appetite, pain, and the senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight).
Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC increases appetite and reduces nausea. The FDA-approved THC-based medications are used for these purposes. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control problems. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant and has low toxicity while above the LD50 (dose of THC needed to kill 50% of tested rodents) it becomes highly toxic.
CBD is a cannabinoid that does not affect the mind or behavior. It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions. This chemical may be less desirable to recreational users because they are not intoxicating.