Healing With Cannabis

As a new NJ medical marijuana patient it can be difficult navigating the ins and outs of your newly prescribed medicine. This resource provides a brief timeline of cannabis use, how to use your medicine, and any possible side effects.

Cannabis Use Through History

Cannabis is a plant with origins tracing back to ancient times.

6,000 Year History of Cannabis Infographic via MedReleaf & Visual Capitalist

4000 BC: Pan-p’o village

China considers cannabis one of its “five grains” and farms it as a major food crop.

1000 BC: Atharva Vedas & Ayurverdic Medicine

Cannabis is described as a “source of happiness”, “joy-giver”, and “bringer of freedom” in these Hindu religious texts. At this time, cannabis was smoked at daily devotional services and religious rituals.

This open religious use of cannabis encouraged people to explore its medical benefits. It was used to treat a variety of ailments such as epilepsy, rabies, anxiety, and bronchitis.

900 BC: Assyrians

Evidence that they used cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes.

207 AD: Hua T’o

First recorded physician to use cannabis as an analgesic.

1025 AD: Avicenna

“Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine” states that cannabis is an effective treatment for gout, edema, infectious wounds, and severe headaches.

1798: Napolean

Napolean brought cannabis from Egypt to France, where it was studied for its use in treating tumors, cough, and jaundice.

1839-1900: William O’Shaughnessy & Medical Cannabis

This Irish doctor introduced cannabis to western medicine and concluded that it had no negative medicinal effects.

1914: Harrison Act

Drug use is declared a crime in the United States

1970: Schedule 1 Classification

Cannabis is categorized as a schedule 1 drug and listed as having “no accepted medical use.”

Present Day

Medicinal cannabis is slowly being legalized through the United States, with recreational use following behind.

Using Your Medicine

Different doses and cultivars can have varying effects on different people.

How to Use Medicinal Cannabis

Dosage

Dosage is perhaps the most important factor in maximizing benefits and minimizing adverse effects from cannabis. Dosing with cannabis is not the same as with most other therapeutic agents like Tylenol or NyQuil. Some patients only need as little as 1mg while others use up to 2,000mg daily.

With most medicine, increasing your dosage results in stronger therapeutic effects and a higher likelihood of adverse effects; this is described as a monophasic dose-response relationship. For the most part, cannabis does not seem to follow this relationship. Instead, some patients who increase their dosage to very high levels find additional therapeutic effects not found at lower doses, but most patients do best around their lowest effective dose. Nonetheless, it is comforting to know that it is impossible for a person to consume a lethal dose of cannabis (a typical human would have to consumer over 20lbs at once).

Follow the instructions of your prescribing physician. Generally, begin with a small & measured amount and slowly increase the dosage by the same amount until the desired effect is achieved. This is how you find your “therapeutic window.”

Therapeutic Window

This is the window between your lowest effective dose and the dose at which you start to experience adverse effects. Regular users develop a wider therapeutic window because most people develop a tolerance to unwanted effects faster than to therapeutic effects.

Bi-Directional Effects

Bi-directional effects are when the same compound has opposite effects on different people. This is often seen when giving Benadryl to children. Instead of the typical sleepy side effects, they often get energized and excitable.

A dose of cannabis may help anxious people people relax, but that same dose may make non-anxious people anxious. This can also vary strain to strain because the different levels of cannabinoids and terpenes in a cultivar contribute to its medicinal effects. Healing with cannabis is a very personal process unique to each individual, and it’s important to carefully experiment to find what works best for you.

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Overall, Cannabis is Safe

If you dose too much too fast, there are a few possible side effects

Most of the possible adverse effects from cannabis are due to consuming too much THC. If you’re very sensitive to THC, try cultivars that have a smaller THC:CBD ratio. This is because CBD mitigates many of the potential side effects of too much THC.

Side Effects

Don't drive or operate machinery when using marijuana. Marijuana may cause:

  • Headache

  • Dry mouth

  • Dry eyes

  • Lightheadedness

  • Dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Paranoid thinking

  • A disconnected state (dissociation)

  • Increased appetite

  • Coughs

Further Reading

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-marijuana/art-20364974

https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubs-drug-cannab2-ch52.htm

https://www.safeaccessnow.org/using_medical_cannabis