What is Cannabis Oil?
Cannabis is a very powerful herb with a very long history of medicinal use. According to historians, it has been cultivated in various regions of the world for thousands of years.
Cannabis or marijuana refers to the products derived from the cannabis sativa plant which are typically bred for their potent trichomes. These sticky glands contain high amounts of a substance commonly referred to as THC or tetrahydrocannabinol which is well known for its psychotropic abilities.
US Medical History of Cannabis and Cannabis Oil
The controversy surrounding the use of cannabis dates back a very long time. In the 1930s, growing concerns about the dangers of abuse led to cannabinoids being banned for medical use in the US and many other countries worldwide.
In some countries, the laws for possession of cannabis which is also widely known as marijuana are very severe. These laws may mean that we have long been denied a potentially excellent natural treatment that has applications ranging from stress and anxiety relief to potential cancer breakthroughs.
A comprehensive review published in 2007 into the potential health benefits of cannabis stated that despite the possible risk of mild addiction, the therapeutic value of this herb was far too valuable to simply ignore. (1)
The same review goes on to say that cannabis has been used for its medicinal benefits for millennia and that it has the ability to treat a wide range of illnesses including cancer, anorexia, pain and inflammation.
It can also be used for a number of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and Tourette’s syndrome. Given that cannabis has so much medical value, the question that I’m sure we would like answered is why governments including the federal government of the US is so keen to ban it even for medicinal use.
The answer according to some is that they can see its huge market potential and that they want a part of it. It is also, of course, a very real competition for major pharmaceutical companies and losing out on their bottom line is not something that the pharmaceutical industry finds attractive.
Laws on Cannabis Oil
The use of cannabis and cannabis oil for medicinal purposes is now legal in 25 states in the US but don’t expect to be able to walk into a shop and buy it. You may require a medical certificate and a proof of illness in order to acquire cannabis oil from the state.
It may also be possible to join a collective group – a group of patients that share and sometimes grow medicinal cannabis.
There are numerous scams online promising to sell medicinal cannabis so it is very important that you do your research well and purchase only oil produced by a reputable company who test the product in a lab.
The cannabis plant species contains a unique group of carbon compounds often referred to as phytocannabinoids. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the main ingredient responsible for its psychoactive ‘high’ effects but it also contains numerous other medicinal compounds including cannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabigerol, and cannabichromene.
Some of these cannabinoids are believed to have significant and anti-inflammatory and pain relief activities without the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabis oil and Hemp oil
Both cannabis and hemp oil are derived from the same species – cannabis sativa but hemp oil is actually quite different to cannabis oil. Hemp is actually a high growing species of the plant which is commonly used for industrial purposes like topical ointments and fiber and paper.
Unlike cannabis oil, hemp oil has THC only in trace amounts and is not considered to have the same medicinal value as cannabis oil. Both hemp oil and cannabis oil also contain cannabidiol or CBD which contains medicinal properties.
However, there is far less of this compound contained in hemp than cannabis oil. Cannabis is actually around 100 times more potent than hemp oil meaning the dose of hemp oil necessary to have the equivalent effect would be extremely high.
The Health Benefits of Cannabis Oil
Research into cannabis essential oil is regulated strictly and we are in the early stages of its development. We can only hope that in the future more research will be done and that regulatory bodies become more accepting of its potential to treat people safely.
1. Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety and related emotional disorders are an increasing modern concern and we have looked at numerous potential and natural alternatives to the often ineffective and dangerous prescription medications for these conditions.
Cannabis oil is definitely worth exploring further as it can relax the troubled mind and stimulate the release of pleasure hormones. This combination of effects can lead to stress reduction and pace the way for feelings of calm and general wellbeing.
Cannabinoids found in the oil are responsible for these positive emotional effects on the body’s nervous system. Several recent studies have demonstrated the potential value of cannabis oil in stress relief as well as related issues like insomnia.
An Israeli study published in 2013 demonstrated that treatment with cannabinoids following some form of traumatic experience might help control the emotional responses to that traumatic event and prevent stress related responses.
Researchers found that cannabinoids were effective in minimizing stress receptors in the hippocampus which is the area of the brain responsible for emotional response. (2)
A more recent review published in 2015 found that cannabis treatments were effective in reducing anxiety and restlessness in military veterans suffering from PTSD.
Whether inhaled or orally administered as cannabis oil produces a wide range of positive nervous system effects including increased feelings of pleasure and calm and this review of 4 trials found that cannabis was able to significantly improve certain symptoms of PTSD including nightmares, insomnia, and anxiety. (3)
While there is a need for further research, the studies done so far as well as a large body of anecdotal evidence is very promising for the future use of cannabis oil to treat anxiety, stress and sleeping disorders.
2. Appetite and Obesity
Cannabis has a well-known ability to increase the user’s appetite and it is possible that it has the potential for people who need to increase their weight following illness or because of an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa.
Cannabis oil can stimulate the body’s digestive system and induce hunger in those lacking appetite.
While cannabis oil can stimulate appetite by helping release hormones responsible for hunger, certain hormones responsible for hunger suppression can also be stimulated by cannabinoids.
So conversely, depending on which hormone gets stimulated, cannabis oil might also be effective in reducing appetite and controlling obesity. In order to do this effectively, it is necessary to manipulate the cannabinoids to stimulate the appropriate hormones.
Basically speaking, cannabis oil may be effective in treating both obesity and eating disorders like anorexia in the future. For those who would like to read more about the weight control potential of cannabis oil, you can click on the link at the bottom of the article. (1)
Asthma is a common respiratory disease affecting up to 300 million people the world over. It is responsible for numerous deaths each year and the search for a natural and effective treatment has been ongoing for many years.
Cannabis has actually been used to treat asthma for many thousands of years including in traditional Chinese and Indian systems. Cannabis oil may be an effective natural treatment door asthma because of its natural anti-inflammatory ability as well as its analgesic effects and in particular its ability to dilate the bronchial tubes which allows more oxygen to flow.
During the early 1970s, there were several studies that investigated the bronchodilatory effects of cannabis for people suffering from asthma many of which showed very positive results although these studies used cannabis cigarettes rather than oil. (4.5)
While there is little evidence regarding the use of cannabis oil for asthmatics, many people swear by its ability to improve their symptoms and it is a popular choice for treatment.
4. Heart Health
Cannabis oil contains antioxidant properties that may prove beneficial for the heart. Animal studies have demonstrated that treatment with cannabis oil may prevent numerous cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
A British study published in 2014 found that the results of the animal studies were applicable to human heart conditions. (6) They demonstrated that cannabinoids could cause the blood vessels to relax and dilate paving the way to improved circulation and reduced blood pressure.
This is exciting news and we can only hope that further studies will be forthcoming to further prove that cannabis oil has major implications for heart health.
5. Pain Relief
One of the major historical uses of the cannabis plant has been to ease pains and inflammation. Indeed, there is evidence that it has been used for thousands of years for these purposes.
There is modern evidence that cannabis and cannabis oil is effective in relieving pain by inhibiting the neural transmission in the body’s pain pathways. It has the potential to alleviate chronic pain as well as inflammation which is why many cancer patients choose to take it while undergoing chemotherapy.
A recent Canadian study published in 2010 demonstrated that cannabis could be used to treat patients suffering from chronic pain. The study involved 23 adult patients who were suffering from neuropathic pain as a result of surgery or trauma.
Over the 2-week duration of the trial, patients were randomly treated with cannabis in 4 different levels of potency. The results demonstrated that cannabis taken 3 times daily was able to significantly reduce the intensity and severity of pain as well as improving sleep. (7)
Many people take cannabis to deal with severe rheumatism and arthritis as well as other chronic pains. Other studies have demonstrated that it can be used to ease the neuropathic pain. It is considered to be safe when taken in appropriate doses and studies have found that it is largely well tolerated.
There is a considerable amount of excitement regarding the ability of cannabis oil to cure cancer and it often quite understandable makes headlines. Unfortunately, these headlines are often overly optimistic and can be misleading for both patients and their families.
First of all, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of scientific research into the effects of cannabis oil on cancer has been conducted wither on animals or in the laboratory.
With that in mind, we need to exercise a degree of caution in extrapolating the results to human subjects. Having said all that, the evidence from the laboratory has been very positive so far. (1)
Scientists have been able to discover that many different cannabinoids have a range of positive effects under laboratory conditions. These effects include:
- Triggering cancer cell death in a process known as apoptosis
- Preventing the division of cells
- Preventing new blood vessels from becoming tumors
- Reducing the risk of cancerous cells from spreading throughout the body and invading healthy neighboring tissue.
Up to now, the most positive effects have been seen when using a combination of purified THC in combination with cannabidiol which is a cannabinoid that counteracts the psychoactive effect of THC.
Other research has demonstrated that cannabis oil is most effective when used in conjunction with chemotherapy medications.
Although there is no hard and fast evidence that cannabis oil is a miracle cure-all, the early signs are very promising and further research may soon help us find the answers that so many people are waiting for.
7. Skin Protection
Cannabis oil can be applied topically to the skin in order to promote a healthy and glowing looking skin. When applied topically, cannabis oil can help stimulate the shedding of older and dead skin cells and promote the growth of new ones to replace them.
Cannabinoids can help promote the production of lipids which help fight chronic skin conditions including acne and psoriasis. It is also possible that cannabis oil can help prevent the signs of aging like wrinkles and skin spots and blemishes because it is high in natural antioxidants that help fight against cellular damage caused by free radicals.
By reducing the amount of stress that we feel, cannabis oil can also help prevent skin diseases that tend to break out during times of anxiety-like eczema or rosacea.
8. Hair Health
It sounds odd but cannabis oil may be a great tonic for your hair. Of course, I am not talking about smoking it but actually applying it to the hair in the same way you would apply any other oil. Here are just some of the ways that your hair can benefit from cannabis oil.
- It stimulates hair growth. If your hair is thinning then cannabis contains important fatty acids that can help to stimulate its growth. These same fatty acids can also add sheen to your hair helping it look healthier and shinier.
- It nourishes the scalp. Cannabis oil contains gamma-linoleic acid which helps to nourish and moisturize your hair. For those of you with dry hair, cannabis oil may be just what you need. It also helps protect the scalp and combat skin issues like dandruff.
- It strengthens the hair and follicles. Cannabis oil contains lots of protein and because hair is mainly made up of proteins, it can help strengthen and revitalize weak or damaged hair strands. It also strengthens the hair follicles and improves elasticity.
- As a shampoo or a conditioner. Simply add some cannabis oil to your shampoo to give your hair an overall treat. Cannabis oil is rich in vitamin E which can stimulate hair growth and revitalization. Because of its abundant fatty acids, you may even be able to skip your normal conditioner.
9. Eye Health
There is a certain amount of evidence demonstrating the ability of cannabis oil to treat eye conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Glaucoma is a serious optic nerve disease that might lead to loss of proper vision and even blindness.
Glaucoma is caused by a build-up of fluid within the eye which then puts too much pressure on the retina, lens and optic nerve. While numerous factors may contribute to nerve damage in people suffering from glaucoma, intraocular pressure or IOP is definitely related.
The good news is that the American Glaucoma Society says cannabis can reduce the level of IOP in both people suffering from glaucoma and those without the disease. Unfortunately, its effects are temporary and patients would need to use cannabis oil every few hours in order to shore up the effects so for now, more research is necessary.
10. For Seizures
There is some evidence emanating from small-scale studies and anecdotal reports that the cannabidiol content of cannabis oil may be helpful in preventing seizures and could be a novel treatment for epilepsy.
Unfortunately, however, there is not enough evidence to support its use for seizures and the limited evidence that is available so far has proven contradictory.
A review of the literature to date which involved only four clinical trials was published in 2012 but was unable to make a reliable conclusion regarding the use of cannabis oil for seizures.
It should, however, be noted that of the 48 people involved in these trials that none of them experienced any adverse side effects from the treatment and that more studies in the future may prove invaluable.
Unfortunately, the access to cannabis and cannabidiols is limited to researchers because of the strict regulations but we can hope that these strict regulations are softened in the future.
11. Other Potential Benefits
Other possible applications for cannabis oil are in the treatment of various neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well as other neural conditions such as Tourette’s syndrome and autism.
There has been considerable research into the effects of cannabis oil on these conditions but the jury is still out on its effect. (1)
How to Use Cannabis Oil
There are several ways to use cannabis oil for medicinal purposes. Many people who use the oil ingest it directly by way of an oral syringe often combined with another liquid to mask its potency.
The appropriate dosage and frequency of delivery depend on several factors including the patient’s tolerance to cannabis and the condition they are trying to treat. In general, it is recommended that you start out taking very small doses and increasing the dose over time when your body gets more used to it.
Cannabis oil can also be applied topically which is a popular option for people to treat pain from conditions like arthritis. The advantage of the topical application is that you experience many of the pain killing effects with far less chance of experiencing any psychotropic side effects.
Precautions and Potential Side Effects
Despite all of the potential benefits of cannabis oil, there are still precautions that you should be aware of.
- Cannabis oil may have a negative effect on your cognition. It can affect your ability to concentrate, memorize, think and learn.
- Cannabis oil can cause drowsiness and operating machinery or driving a vehicle may be difficult.
- Mixing cannabis oil with other medication like painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants and antidepressants is not advised. Cannabis oil can cause drowsiness which is exacerbated by many medications.
- Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should not use cannabis oil. Some evidence suggests that women that used cannabis at the time they conceived or during their pregnancy increased their risk of giving birth to a child with low weight or birth defects.
- Nursing mothers should not use cannabis oil.
How to Get Cannabis Oil
Laws differ from country to country. For those of you reading this from the US, despite changing attitudes, you still cannot buy cannabis oil as easily as many people feel they should be able to. It is not available in the essential oil sections of your local store for example but there it is not impossible to come by.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, it is now legal for medical reasons in numerous states although its cultivation and use remain illegal in many others.
While cannabis still has a certain amount of stigma attached to it, the evidence is mounting that it has an important role to play in human health. From well-designed scientific studies to a mountain of anecdotal evidence, the signs are extremely promising. Cannabis oil may help you to overcome a range of issues from arthritis pain to cancer.
Please let us know if you have ever used cannabis oil and what you used it for and let us know how effective you found it to be.