What Is Medical Cannabis
Medical cannabis, also called medical marijuana, refers to the use of the cannabis plant and its component cannabinoids (such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)) as a medical treatment for certain conditions and their associated symptoms.
It acts on the endocannabinoid system within the body and is known to affect a wide range of physiological processes. Unlike recreational cannabis, medical cannabis is carefully formulated with specific ratios with THC and CBD to treat various chronic conditions. Little Green Pharma’s medical cannabis is manufactured in line with strict Australian pharmaceutical standards unlike other imported products available in the Australian market or online.
CBD oil (medical cannabis without THC) is a commonly prescribed formulation and doesn’t give the ‘high’ associated with THC.
Medical cannabis is typically manufactured from the flowering head of the cannabis plant which contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids. This is different to hemp oil, which in Australia is derived from pressing hemp seeds that contain no significant amounts of cannabinoids.
THC & CBD
The cannabis plant contains up to 545 chemical compounds including 114 different cannabinoids, many of which have been clinically demonstrated to interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors. To date, the most widely studied cannabinoids have been: THC and CBD.
is a cannabinoid which is typically the most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, especially in illicit cannabis. THC has similar therapeutic benefits to CBD but is known for its intoxicating effects.
is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid and is non-addictive and less potent than THC with very low toxicity.
THC and CBD may work synergistically, while CBD is understood to antagonise the adverse side effects associated with THC 5 .
Cannabis formulations have different ratios of THC to CBD. Each formulation:
- Provides different therapeutic effects.
- Interacts differently with each person’s endocannabinoid system and biochemistry.
- Can have a different side effect profile in patients.
A brief history of Medical Cannabis
The cannabis plant has been used in traditional plant therapies for over 1000 years.
Initially, cannabis was used as an anaesthetic and was introduced from India to Europe around the mid-19th century 1 . It was traditionally used for a variety of conditions including rheumatism, convulsions, and muscular spasms. 1,2 In the early 1900s, although medical cannabis was widely used, chemists were unable to create a consistent product because the active ingredients were unknown.
By the mid-20th century, cannabis became illegal in most countries around the world and its usage by the medical community ceased. In 1965, Raphael Mechoulam and Yehiel Gaoni isolated THC for the first time which led to a significant increase in investigations. Twenty-five years later Mechoulam discovered endogenous cannabinoids as well as the endocannabinoid system, which again reignited interest and research into the plant. 3
A recent revival in the medical world
The last twenty years have seen a gradual, world-wide re-adoption of cannabis for medical purposes. Cannabis has been legalised for medical purposes in Canada, Israel and many US states, as well as several European countries including but not limited to Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland.
In the last 45 years, there have been nearly 600 studies conducted using medical cannabis, with more than a third of those studies published in the last five years. This renewed global interest in medical cannabis has led to an improved understanding of the cannabis plant, and the identification of many more active components that have potential benefits across a range of conditions.
Is medical cannabis the right choice for me?
Take our short quiz to find out if you may be eligible for medical cannabis. We can then connect you with an Australian medical practitioner who can assess if it is the right treatment choice for you.
- Mikuriya TH., ‘Marijuana in medicine: past, present and future’, California Medicine, vol. 110 (1), 1969, pp. 34-40.
- Fankhauser M., ‘History of cannabis in Western Medicine’ in: Grotenhermen F, Russo E, eds. Cannabis and Cannabinoids, New York, 2002, The Haworth Integrative Healing Press, 2002, pp. 37–51.
- Zuardi AW, ‘History of cannabis as a medicine: a review’, Braz J Psychiatry, Vol. 28 (2), 2006, pp. 153-7.
- Russe, E. & Guya G. “A tale of two cannabinoids: The therapeutic rationale for combining tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol” Vol 66, Issue 2, 2006, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987705004317 pp 234-246