Cannabis sativa is a plant native to East Asia. Some scientists break it down into subspecies: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderallis. It is now cultivated in many countries for its use in medicine, religion, food, and manufacturing of consumer goods.
As with many plants, different parts of cannabis are used for different purposes.
The history of using cannabis for medical benefits goes back thousands of years in many cultures.
The scientific evidence of the medicinal properties of cannabinoids is increasing as governments are loosening regulations and permitting more research.
For decades, Western conventional medicine has used cannabinoids (some synthetic) for the treatment of nausea, particularly for those taking chemotherapy.
It has also been used to increase the appetite of those with HIV/AIDS.
Pain & Migraines
Cannabinoids are used to reduce pain, particularly from nerve damage or inflammation. It's also used to reduce migraines.
Some doctors prefer cannabis to avoid the bad side effects and dangers of prescription opioids.
Anxiety & OCD
Animal studies and cannabis-user surveys suggest that low levels of cannabis could be effective for anxiety. Brain scans show that CBD oil triggers changes in blood flow to regions in the brain linked with feelings of anxiety, indicating it for OCD, too.
Medications with cannabis extracts and THC are used in Germany, Israel, and Canada to treat Tourette syndrome.
Some states have legalized medical marijuana particularly for the treatment of Tourette syndrome.
Other illnesses that have seen positive results from cannabis use: menopause, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, hypertension.
Medicinal Side Effects & Tolerance
The use of cannabis products, in any form, like most medications and some supplements, may produce desired or undesired side effects. Patients should consult with their physicians on their individual circumstances and the risks versus benefits of all treatment options. Many patients prefer cannabis because it is well-tolerated for most and comes from a natural plant that can be grown and processed organically.
Additionally, some research indicates cannabis might increase the symptom it is intended to reduce, and some see no effect at all. In some cases, depending on doses, patients may find that the cannabiniod loses its effect over time. In this area, cannabinoids are no different than what some patients experience with conventional treatments.
Check with your doctor before using any cannabis product for medicinal treatment.
Cannabis as Food
Hemp seed, or parts of it, are FDA-approved and used as a protein, carbohydrate, or oil ingredient in beverages (juices, smoothies, protein drinks, plant-based alternatives to dairy products), soups, dips, spreads, sauces, dressings, plant-based alternatives to meat products, desserts, baked goods, cereals, snacks, and nutrition bars.
Where legal, cannabis, with the active cannabinoids, is consumed (for a medical or recreation purpose) in foods, such as gummies, cookies, or in tea.
At this time, cannabis products are not used in animal feed, and anyone wanting to give it to their pet as a treatment should consult with a veterinarian.
Hemp seed (actually a nut) is found in birdseed because birds like it and it is high in fat.
The cannabis plant (or hemp) has been used to make practical products for hundreds of years. However, using hemp in manufacturing products on a large scale is in its infancy.
Better for the Environment
One acre of hemp produces as much fiber as 2-3 acres of corn. Growing hemp requires less water and can be grown in any state, whereas cotton growing requires certain climates.
Hemp fiber lasts twice as long as cotton and does not mildew.
Some products made from hemp fiber are:
Additionally, producing hemp seed oil for biofuel is closer to being carbon-neutral than growing corn for ethanol.
Currently, hemp bioplastic is used for the production of ecological packaging for hemp products. Some companies make furniture and surfboards from hemp. Cannabis can also be used to make cellophane.
Cannabis in Religion
Back to at least 1500 BCE in India, cannabis was (and to a limited degree, is also today) used in religious practices. From there, its spiritual use spread to other Asian countries, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and German tribes in the Middle Ages. In some of these cultures, its religious use was as an offering to the gods of those people.
In the Rastafarian religion, cannabis is considered a sacrament. It is ingested or burned as an incense in the rituals. Some Rastafarians believe they have reached a higher spiritual level so that they no longer use it.