Cannabis FAQs

What are cannabinoids?


Cannabinoids are, simply put, a chemical which the body produces and for which it has receptor cells. This chemical can also be synthesized in a lab or found in the cannabis plant. In humans, there is something called the endocannabinoid system which allows cannabinoids to bind with receptor cells throughout the body. The interaction is similar to that of chemicals like adrenaline, testosterone, estrogen, or serotonin. The highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors is found in the brain, but such receptors are also found throughout the body in lower concentrations, notably on the cells that are responsible for immunity and inflammation responses.




​How does cannabis work?


Knowledge of how the endocannabinoid system works and how it helps patients is growing. For over 50 years, there was a log-jam preventing adequate studies on the subject and researchers are only now beginning to overcome those road blocks. What has been learned is that the usage of medicinal cannabis releases cannabinoids into the human body. These cannabinoids, which are already naturally occurring in the body, bond to receptor cells and create various beneficial reactions. In instances where they have bonded to receptors on cancer cells, they have been seen promoting cancer cell death. In cases where they have bonded to receptors within the body’s inflammatory system they have been thought to suppress inflammation reactions. The changing tides concerning the public’s general opinion on medicinal cannabis has created a push for further research, and the ongoing results continue to signal that medicinal cannabis is an ideal treatment option for many ailments.




​Is medical cannabis safe?


All medical treatments carry inherent risk, but the risks associated with medicinal cannabis are lower than a majority of other options. Unlike most modern drugs – be they caffeine, aspirin, opioids, or alcohol – there is no known risk of overdose from cannabis. Studies in animals which suggested otherwise were proven to have been faked, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration goes so far as to note on their own website that no deaths from cannabis overdose have ever been reported. Further, medicinal cannabis is safer than many other medicines because it rarely reacts to other treatments. It can be used with nearly all traditional medications without concerns for dangerous interactions. Lastly, it should be noted that medicinal cannabis is thoroughly tested and processed for microbiological contaminants, pesticides, residual solvents, and heavy metals. Physicians who recommend medicinal cannabis take safety seriously and include information concerning the testing process as part of patient education.




​What are the different ways to consume cannabis?


There are three primary administration routes for medicinal cannabis: inhalation, ingestion, and application. Inhalation is the first route that occurs to most people, but many misconceptions about this option exist. When asked what they think when “inhalation” of cannabis is mentioned, most people imagine using a flame to light a dried plant in order to inhale the smoke. This is not recommended. Combusting cannabis is not only unsafe but also less effective; the toxins released by combustion are dangerous and the temperatures from a flame are much higher than the melting point of cannabinoids. Instead, when medicinal cannabis is to be inhaled, a vaporization device is used. This limits temperatures, eliminates the need for combustion, prevents the inhalation of smoke related toxins, and uses less cannabis. Ingestion is the second most common route of administration, utilizing specific dosages in the form of prepared foods, drinks, tinctures, capsules, gum, sublingual strips, or pills. Lastly, an increasingly more common option is the application of lotions, ointments, or transdermal patches. ​




​Is medical cannabis addictive?


Cannabis is not reported to cause physical dependence, and the withdrawal symptoms normally associated with addictive substances are minimal, if present at all. Studies suggest that, because cannabinoids are stored in fat calls, an abrupt cessation of cannabis usage results in a slow tapering effect and no withdrawal symptoms. This is a particularly important question to ask during a time where the opioid crisis, which many believe began due to the over utilization of prescription drugs for pain management, has become a Nationwide Public Health Emergency. It is notable that medicinal cannabis is a far safer pain management option with minimal concerns over addiction and no records of death due to withdrawal or overdose.




​Why is medical cannabis not legal in all  states?


Cannabis was used in clinical medicine in the United States until 1937 when Congress, despite opposition by members of the American Medical Association, passed a Tax Act which effectively ended the usage of cannabis. The stigma and misinformation which began in that campaign were difficult to overcome and ultimately led to a federal ban on most medical research. But now that scientists and physicians have begun studies in earnest, the medical benefits of cannabis are becoming more obvious to the public, medical practitioners, and politicians. The increasing amount of information has changed the political climate, and legislation has become more understanding of the need for further study and usage. As a result, 29 states, Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico have passed bills legalizing medicinal cannabis.




Does medical cannabis get a person "high"?


Various cannabinoids affect each individual differently, and the method through which cannabis is administered can play a significant role individual effectiveness. Generally speaking, most ingested and inhaled medicinal cannabis will have some degree of an intoxicating effect. On the other hand, most topical applications – with the exception of transdermal patches – are not able to enter the blood stream and thus do not include these effects. With experience and instruction, a person can titrate their dosage to minimize the intoxicating effects of cannabinoids. A physician with experience in the usage of medicinal cannabis can guide patients and provide a large amount of information concerning how different cannabinoids are likely to affect an individual. They can also make suggestions regarding which types of medicinal cannabis are less likely to have intoxicating effects.




What is hemp?


Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the family, Cannabaceae. Through the extensive hybridization in the past decade, there the lines between Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica have been blurred. That being said, hemp is a variety of cannabis plants that are CBD dominant, meaning they have relatively high concentrations of CBD and low concentrations of THC. As per the 2018 Farm Bill (also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), farmers are now legally allowed to cultivate hemp plants in the United States as long as it has less than 0.3% THC; this has led to the surge and competition in the hemp and hemp-derived products market. The hemp plant has been used in many industrial and practical applications, including but not limited to rope, apparel, clothing accessories, food and paper.




What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?


While hemp and marijuana are both varieties of the cannabis plant and are nearly visually indistinguishable, there are key differentiators between the two. One of the main differences is their chemical make-up. Marijuana often has high concentrations of THC – the compound that gives users the euphoric or intoxicating feelings or “high”. Hemp, however, has low concentrations of THC and high concentrations of CBD. In fact, industrial hemp must have THC concentrations lower than .3% in order to be considered legal for cultivation. Both plants have an incredibly long history of human use, rich with medicinal benefits and practical uses.




What is THC?


THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a compound derived predominantly from the marijuana plant, known for its high concentrations of THC; this is the infamous compound associated with the euphoric feelings or “high” you can feel upon ingesting, vaping, or smoking cannabis. While hemp may contain some THC, industrial hemp must contain less than .3% THC in order to comply with federal regulations.




What is the difference between hemp seed oil and hemp oil?


As the name suggests, hemp seed oil is derived from hemp seeds while hemp oil is derived from the whole (or parts) of the hemp plant. One key difference between the two is the presence of cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp seed oil is rich in healthful oils and fatty acids which are highly beneficial for the human body, however, hemp seed oil does not contain CBD while hemp oil does.




What does broad spectrum mean in broad spectrum hemp oil?


Broad spectrum hemp oil is an extract derived from hemp which contains most of the plant’s original compounds including other, non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids, terpenes and plant waxes to create a broad spectrum, whole plant formula that does not contain THC.




What is the endocannabinoid system?


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in promoting the homeostasis, or balance, in the body, as it is linked with many organ systems and neurotransmitter systems. The ECS itself includes cannabinoid receptors, with the two most extensively studied being cannabinoid receptor type 1, CB1, and cannabinoid receptor type 2, CB2. CB1 receptors are predominantly located in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are associated with immune modulation. When your body seems to be out of balance, the ECS synthesizes cannabinoids on demand, called endocannabinoids, that interact with and bind to CB1 and CB2. The two most well-known endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2- arachidonoylglycerol, called 2-AG for short. When you exercise and your body starts to sweat, which is the ECS working with other systems in your body to help regulate your body temperature; the anandamide release is often misunderstood as the release of endorphins (stay tuned for an upcoming article about this concept with more details!).




Do I need to tell my primary care provider that I am taking hemp extract with cbd?


We always recommend speaking with all of your healthcare professionals, including your primary care provider, before starting any new nonprescription product, whether it is a dietary supplement, herb, homeopathy, or, of course, CBD.




What does the endocannabinoid system support?


Some of the important functions regulated by the endocannabinoid system include: Appetite Digestion Immune function Mood Sleep Reproductive System Motor control Temperature regulation Memory Discomfort Pleasure/reward




What is a cbd isolate oil?


Different from broad spectrum hemp oil, certain manufacturers use what is called an isolate – where the CBD molecules are isolated for use in a product without any other parts of the plant present.




What does full spectrum mean in full spectrum hemp oil?


Full spectrum hemp oil is an extract derived from hemp which contains all of the plant’s original compounds including other, non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids, terpenes and plant waxes to create a full spectrum, whole plant formula, including THC.




What is the right amount of hemp extract with naturally occurring cbd for me?


There is no universal “correct” amount of CBD for everyone. Dosage is very individualized and depends on many factors including the patients’ diagnoses, prescription drug regimen, dietary supplements, lifestyle, cannabinoid-naivete and treatment goals. However, typically, a dose of less than 10 mg has proven to be mostly ineffective. Start low and go slow. We recommend starting with a smaller dose and building up slowly until the desired effects are reached. For specific recommendations, please contact our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Swathi Varanasi, who is more than happy to answer your questions.





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