The effects of cannabis on the body31 January 2020
With both the proliferation of CBD across the globe and the increasing adoption of medical cannabis programmes worldwide, the range of possible benefits from cannabis-based products are being recognised more and more.
At the same time, as these medical cannabis products and CBD concoctions are becoming more commonplace, people are understandably questioning why this sudden rise in popularity is occurring.
In this blog, we discuss the effects of cannabis and cannabis-based products on the body – perhaps explaining this surge in popularity.
But before we get into this, you have to understand the endocannabinoid system first.
The endocannabinoid system
If you had to sum up the role of the endocannabinoid system in a few words, while acknowledging that research around the endocannabinoid system is ongoing, you’d say that this system is one naturally present in the body that involves the activity of endocannabinoids, their receptors and enzymes.
This system also seemingly acts like a fine-tuner of the release of other neurotransmitters within the body and is believed to have a crucial impact upon homeostasis.
As there are many cannabinoid receptors distributed widely throughout the body, with this distribution not simply being limited to the central and peripheral nervous systems, the ECS is believed to have very far-reaching effects, particularly when cannabinoids and cannabis-based products are introduced into the mix.
The effects of cannabis and cannabis-based products on the body
Pain modulation is affected by the endocannabinoid system through the modulation of the effects of the other neurotransmitters involved in the pain response. For example, the GABA Ergic and noradrenaline system may be impacted.
In practical terms, this means that cannabis-based products may be useful in helping patients suffering from chronic pain or generally painful conditions. Cannabis has a fairly well investigated value for treating chronic pain, with inflammatory conditions being particularly positively impacted by cannabis use. CBD alone has also been touted as a good remedy for inflammation.
Cannabis has well known effects upon memory. This is believed to be because the THC in cannabis affects the hippocampus, which plays a crucial role in spatial, short-term and long-term memory processes. It’s thought that the consumption of cannabis or products containing THC leads to memory problems and issues forming memories whilst intoxicated.
The effects of THC may also impair judgement to an extent, with it often being advised that those on cannabis-based medications should not drive or carry out activities that require the user’s full attention for safety purposes.
Feeling sleepy after consuming cannabis is well known side effect of the drug. This is likely due to increased endocannabinoid signalling within the central nervous system, which can also induce sleep more generally.
The endocannabinoid system also has an obvious effect on the stimulation of appetite.
In animal studies with mice, when the mice have their CB1 receptor knocked out they are leaner and less hungry than the mice that still have that receptor.
In practice, medical cannabis has been used to stimulate appetite when in the form of Dronabinol, a medicine used to treat the weight loss and loss of appetite in those who have developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Furthermore, although typically used in trials to help patients with the psychological impacts of the disorder, cannabis-based products may also be useful in stimulating appetite in patients with anorexia. This topic requires much more in-depth research however.
The endocannabinoid system also plays a role in the control of many metabolic functions like nutrient transport and energy storage.
Additionally, there are reports that the endocannabinoid system may be involved in modulating insulin sensitivity and therefore might have a role to play in treating clinical conditions like diabetes and obesity (or even atherosclerosis).
We know that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in the modulation of the stress response, with research currently being carried out around medical cannabis’ effectiveness in treating mental health and psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD and OCD amongst others.
It might surprise you to learn that there are even endocannabinoid receptors found in the bladder and throughout the reproductive systems of both sexes.
In women, the operation of the endocannabinoid system to regulate the timing of embryonic implantation, with the likelihood of miscarriage perhaps being affected by whether anandamide levels are too high or too low.
We only recommend taking cannabis-based products following a consultation with a medical professional, and cannot and do not advise patients on the recreational use of any cannabis-based products.
At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, our GMC registered specialists will identify the appropriate cannabis medicine care plan and products for patients following a comprehensive assessment which includes an in-depth evaluation of the main symptoms being targeted, current medications, pattern of symptoms and lifestyle factors such as safety-sensitive occupations.
They will also monitor and adjust the medication on a regular basis to ensure the best effect with fewest side effects. There is also a carefully designed process in place to monitor patients’ well-being, with follow-up appointments after a week and then every month, for three months after receiving a prescription.
To book an appointment with one of specialists click here.
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