Yes really. It’s been around longer than you have. Or your great-great-grandfather has, as a matter of fact.
Medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, refers to using cannabis as medical therapy to alleviate symptoms and treat various diseases. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds that react with receptors in brain cells to slow the release of neurotransmitters, thus slowing your nerves and reaction times. Although cannabis contains over 400 different types of cannabinoids, the main two are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Using the cannabis plant as medical therapy dates back thousands of years. The oldest known records of medical marijuana are of Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo mixing cannabis powder with wine as an anesthetic before surgery. The Chinese term “anesthesia” literally means “cannabis intoxication”. Cannabis is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese medicine and is prescribed for a diversity of ailments.
Around 2000 BC, Egyptians were using medical cannabis to treat hemorrhoids and sore eyes while texts from ancient India show that they used it for headaches, insomnia, pain, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Ancient Greeks healed their horses by dressing their wounds and sores with cannabis. Humans used cannabis seeds for tapeworms and the leaves as treatment for nose bleeds, while Greek historian Herodotus recorded using cannabis in steam baths.
In the ancient Islamic world, cannabis was used as: an antipyretic (fever reducer), diuretic (promotes urine production), antiemetic (prevents vomiting and nausea), analgesic (pain relief), anti-epileptic (epilepsy treatment), and anti-inflammatory (reduce inflammation) medicine for ten centuries until the 1800s.
Medical interest in the West started in the 19th century, with cannabis as a “secret ingredient” in many medicines. Before the 1940s, there were already 280 manufacturers producing over 2,000 cannabis medicines. The invention of injectable medicines and syringes caused a decline in the use of cannabis as a therapeutic medicine.
Today, 23 states and the District of Columbia have a medical marijuana program in effect, with three more pending legislation. As of 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) no longer interferes with state marijuana programs, even though they are still illegal at a federal level.
Modern medical cannabis is used to treat a whole array of ailments and symptoms, thanks to advancements in technology. Different strains have different qualities to treat different illnesses. Indica strains are usually high in CBD whole sativas usually have higher THC content. A third category, hybrids, combines various qualities of indicas with sativas to increase certain effects of each strain.
Arguably the most recognized strain of medical marijuana is known as “Charlotte’s Web.” It is very high in CBD, which does not induce the psychoactive high that THC produces. The strain was named after Charlotte Figi, who has become “the girl who is changing medical marijuana laws across America.” Born in 2006, Charlotte took her first dose of medical marijuana concentrate when she was five years old. Until that day, she was having 300 violent seizures a week due to Dravet syndrome. Also known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, Charlotte was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome when she was two years old and her parents had already tried every option available before packing up and moving to Colorado.
After a regimen of Charlotte’s Web concentrate, Charlotte’s seizures went from 300 a week to only two or three per month. Since then, many families have moved to states with medical marijuana to diagnose their sick children with a natural remedy. As of 2013, Charlotte has an average of four seizures a month and is now able to lead a normal childhood.
Aside from epilepsy, medical marijuana can be an effective and safe method of treatment for glaucoma, pain, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and cancer.
This article is an excerpt from our book Cannabis 101: Everything You Need to Know About Safe Marijuana Use. Check it out!