When it comes to using medical cannabis for therapy, the most successful qualifying patient is an educated one. Unlike traditional prescription medication, cannabis dosing is not standardized, which means each qualifying individual can talk to their qualifying physician about tailoring the regimen to meet his or her needs.
The right treatment regimen or dosage depends upon the qualifying patient, their medical condition, and the desired outcome. With so many options for strains, delivery method, and route of administration, the possibilities are numerous.
Many newcomers are under the impression that cannabis is the stereotypical cannabis and its properties are its properties. However, hundreds of strains of medical cannabis, each with its own unique chemical profile, exist to help ease conditions that traditional medication couldn’t. Understanding these chemicals and their effects can powerfully impact treatment.
Cannabis is divided into two main strains, Indica and Sativa.
Sativa strains are commonly desired for a psychoactive stimulating effect and are recommended for use during the day. These strains are generally higher in cannabinoids and have a greater CBD (cannabidiol) to THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) ratio, which means they’re effective in treating depression, migraines, mood swings, severe and/or chronic nausea, and appetite loss.
Indica strains are commonly desired for their relaxing effects. With the effect of sedation, indica strains may cause drowsiness and reduce mental clarity, which is why they’re frequently recommended for nighttime use. They’re effective in treating anxiety, chronic and/or severe pain, inflammation, and insomnia because Indica strains are higher in THC and have a greater THC to CBD ratio.
Although, today most strains are true hybrids, which means they’re a combination of both but can carry dominant traits of Indica or Sativa. (They’re labeled as such when you visit as medical marijuana dispensary.)
In addition to the subdivision of classes, strains also differ in individual chemical composition. In fact, cannabis contains more than 483 known chemical compounds! The ones we focus on at Peninsula Alternative Health are cannabinoids and terpenes for their therapeutic effects.
Cannabinoids mimic the natural chemicals we make in our bodies called cendocannabinoids. They act upon CB receptors that are located throughout our body. The main cannabinoids include the following:
- THCA (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
- THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin)
- CBN (cannabinol)
- CBL (cannabicyclol)
- CBC (cannabichromene)
Each of these cannabinoids are present in cannabis strains in varying amounts, have different mechanisms of action, and cause different therapeutic properties. It’s important to remember that not all cannabinoids are psychoactive, as each exerts different effects within the body.
Terpenes are responsible for the distinct smell of medical cannabis and protect the plant from bacteria, fungus, and other environmental stressors. Although they’re non-psychoactive, terpenes also produce therapeutic effects and have an impact on the effects produced. The most researched terpenes include the following:
If you genuinely consider that Peninsula Alternative Health offers hundreds of strains of medical cannabis -- each with a unique chemical composition -- the combinations and potential are truly mind-boggling.
Although we’re at the beginning stages of cannabis therapy with endless possibilities, finding a qualifying patient’s sweet spot may take some time. It’s common to experiment with different strains, doses, and methods of administration before finding a patient’s most desired outcome, as requested by their qualifying physician. Learning about cannabinoids and terpenes; keeping a journal of used strains, amount consumed, and therapeutic outcome; and maintaining open communication with the dispensary and physicians is the best way to find what works best for you.
Cannabis therapy is one of the most individualized ways to medicate, but it can’t be done without an educated, informed, and honest patient! For more information about the benefits of medical marijuana in the state of Maryland, contact the experts at PAH.