Cannabis Science

A library of educational information on the science of cannabis.

What is Medical Cannabis

What is Medical Cannabis (Cannabis Based Medical Products)

What is Medical Cannabis? What is it used to treat?

Cannabis Based Medical Products (CBMPs) or Medical Cannabis are medications derived from the cannabis plant, containing cannabidiol (CBD) and/or Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – which is the psychoactive substance in cannabis). In the UK medical cannabis has been legal since 2018 for the treatment of psychological, neurological, and chronic pain conditions as well as, palliative and/or end of life care: for sake of brevity a full list of conditions treated in the UK is highlighted in eligibility section of this website.

What’s the eligibility criteria?

With cannabis based medical products (CBMPs) being unlicenced, the census would be for patients to evidence unmet clinical needs i.e., their health is not improving despite having ongoing treatment or interventions via conventional healthcare services. It is important for all patients to recognise that due to cannabis containing a psychoactive substance, for the safety of potential patients, if you have any of the diagnosis listed in the exclusion criteria, you will not be eligible. We would advise these patients to liaise with their consultants at the NHS and explore an alternative treatment method to support their health needs.

Patients have a right to a second opinion, provided they do not have any counterindications listed in the exclusion criteria below. Patient’s must be over 18 years of age.

Exclusion Criteria?  

Like all medications, CBMPs is not advisable to use if you struggle from one of the following: –

  • Suffer with high BP (If this is not stable)
  • History of psychosis
  • Diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • Heart condition (Which has NOT been stable for 6+ months)
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding

What are the side effects of medical cannabis?

Side effects of CBMPs include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Imbalance
  • Euphoria
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety and/or Depression
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Psychological Dependence
  • Tolerance
  • Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS)

Adverse reactions include:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

If you experience an adverse reaction, it is important that you report your symptoms to the MHRA via yellow card, who are the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency. To report a yellow card, please follow this link and fill out the form: Yellow Card | Making medicines and medical devices safer (mhra.gov.uk). It is also vital that you inform your clinic, to ensure this medication is not prescribed to you again in the future.

Cannabis dependence:

Cannabis dependence is known clinically as cannabis use disorder, and user’s of any form of medicines, including medical cannabis are prone to psychological dependency.

Signs of Psychological dependence include:

  • Not using medications as prescribed -> using more than required or larger dosages and/or more frequently
  • Withdrawal
  • Developed a tolerance and require more
  • Failed repeated attempts to control or stop use
  • Physical or psychological concerns related to use (i.e., respiratory concerns or fluctuation in mood)
  • Missing relevant appointments or work to use
  • Craving for purposes other than prescribed

If you experience any of the following, please get in touch with your prescriber, so that they may manage this concern accordingly.

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)

Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, also known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, can affect people who are exposed to prolonged, high doses of cannabis: this can also occur with medical cannabis use.

Signs of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome include:

  • Intense nausea and vomiting
  • Projectile vomiting (can happen without warning, up to 5x an hour)
  • Extreme Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Although this is uncommon, if you experience any of the following, please reduce use or stop where possible and urgently alert your prescriber. If symptoms are uncontrollable, please seek urgent medical intervention as you are at risk of dehydration.

Monitoring BP / Warfin prescription

Medical cannabis can for some people cause heart palpations, it is important that people with a history of high blood pressure or a heart condition to be mindful of this, particularly those on warfarin as cannabis can impact the liver enzymes, interacting with other medications. It is important that you work alongside your GP and relevant health care professionals to adequately address your heart.

If you are someone who meets this criterion, regularly monitoring your blood pressure would aid in ensuring your safety and enables you to appropriately reach out for support.

Blood pressure guidance:

Low 90/60 or below Inform GP and clinic, if unwell seek medical attention
Ok 90/60 – 140/90 Continue to monitor – update clinic at FUP appointment
Raised 141/91 – 179/119 Raised, monitor and inform GP and clinic
High 180/120 or more Significant risk, needs urgent review – update GP and clinic

 

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Water Activity: A Guide for Medical Cannabis Producers

Water Activity: A Guide for Medical Cannabis Producers 

Introduction

As the global demand for medical cannabis continues to surge, the attention to quality control measures becomes increasingly critical. One such parameter gaining prominence in the cannabis industry is water activity (aw). This blog delves into the multifaceted role of water activity, extending beyond its conventional association with edibles and food safety. Specifically, we explore its impact on microbial stability, storage stability of harvested buds and extracts, its correlation to product quality attributes, and its implications for shelf life. Additionally, we discuss its current inclusion in state regulations and emphasise the need for a holistic understanding of water activity in the cannabis industry.

The Theory of Water Activity

Water activity is not a novel concept but is deeply rooted in the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, as per Gibb’s free energy equation. It represents the relative chemical potential energy of water in a system, measured by the partial vapour pressure of water in a headspace at equilibrium with the sample. This comprehensive understanding helps differentiate water activity from moisture content, with water activity providing a more accurate indication of microbial, chemical, and physical stability in cannabis products.

Water Activity and Microbial Safety

Microbial contamination poses a significant threat to cannabis products, leading to allergic reactions, respiratory complications, or food borne illnesses. Water activity serves as a critical control point for preventing microbial contamination, dictating the ability of microorganisms to grow and reproduce. While moisture content is an extensive property related to purity, water activity is an intensive property directly influencing microbial growth limits. Establishing water activity below 0.63 aw is crucial for ensuring shelf stability, preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria and moulds that could compromise product safety.

Water Activity and Chemical Stability

Water activity is not only a guardian against microbial growth but also a determinant of chemical stability in cannabis products. Processing biomass and edibles to water activities below 0.63 aw mitigates the risk of microbial spoilage but doesn’t guarantee unlimited shelf life. Chemical degradation, such as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) loss due to decarboxylation, becomes a pertinent concern. Water activity influences reaction rates, with lower water activity correlating with minimised chemical degradation. The hygrothermal time model is a valuable tool for predicting reaction rates and establishing the ideal water activity range for maximising shelf life while minimising chemical degradation.

Water Activity and Storage Stability

Harvested cannabis must be adequately dried to facilitate storage and transport. Water activity below 0.63 aw is essential to prevent mould growth, particularly in dried biomass. Adequate packaging, with good moisture barrier properties, becomes imperative to preserve water activity levels during storage and transport.

Water Activity and Regulations

While water activity is recognised for its role in ensuring the safety and stability of cannabis products, its inclusion in state regulations varies. States like Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington have incorporated water activity testing requirements into their regulations. Additionally, ASTM standards have been established to standardise water activity testing in the cannabis industry, emphasising its importance in maintaining product quality and safety.

Conclusion

In the dynamic landscape of the medical cannabis industry, water activity emerges as a versatile and indispensable parameter. Its influence extends from microbial safety to chemical stability, storage stability, and overall product quality. For medical cannabis producers eyeing the UK market, understanding and controlling water activity is not just a standard to maintain but a strategic move to ensure the longevity, safety, and efficacy of their products. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing the multifaceted significance of water activity will undoubtedly set exporters apart, fostering a reputation for excellence and reliability in the global market.

References

  1. D.S. Reid, Water Activity in Foods (Blackwell Publishing and the Institute of Food Technologists, Ames, Iowa, 2007) pp. 15–28.
  2. A.J. Fontana, Water Activity in Foods (Blackwell Publishing and the Institute of Food Technologists, Ames, Iowa, 2007) pp. 155–171.
  3. M.S. Tapia, S.M. Alzamora, and J. Chirife, Water Activity in Foods (Blackwell Publishing and the Institute of Food Technologists, Ames, Iowa, 2007) pp. 239–271.
  4. L. Beuchat, J. Food Prot.46(2), 135–141 (1983).
  5. W. Scott, Adv. Food Res.7,83–127 (1957).
  6. National Cannabis Industry Association. https://thecannabisindustry.org/ncia-news-resources/state-by-state-policies/. (June 2019).
  7. H. Lueng, Water Activity: Theory and Applications to Food (Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, New York, 1987) pp. 27–45.
  8. B.P Carter, R.M. Syamaladevi, M.T. Galloway, G.S. Campbell, and S.S. Sablani, Proceedings for the 8th Shelf Life International Meeting, U. Klinkesorn, Ed. (Bangkok, Thailand: Kasetsart University, 2017) pp. 40–45.
  9. H. Eyring, J. Chem. Phys.4, 283 (1936).
  10. The What, How, and Why of Water Activity in Cannabis. https://www.cannabissciencetech.com/view/what-how-and-why-water-activity-cannabis/ (December 2023).
  11. Water Activity And Cannabis. https://aqualab.com/en/knowledge-base/webinars/water-activity-and-cannabis/ (December 2023),

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The Cannabis Plant: Nature’s Gift Unveiled

Cannabis Bud AI Generated Image

Introduction

The cannabis plant, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa, has been a part of human history for millennia, revered for its versatility and medicinal properties. In this comprehensive blog, we will explore the fascinating anatomy, life cycle, pollination methods, defence mechanisms, habitats, and diverse types, shapes, and colours of the cannabis plant. Let’s embark on this journey of discovery and unravel the enigmatic world of cannabis.

Anatomy of the Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant is a hardy, dioecious flowering plant, meaning it has separate male and female reproductive structures. Below is a simple table illustrating the basic anatomy of the cannabis plant:

Plant Part Function
Leaves Photosynthesis and transpiration
Stems Support, nutrient transport, and storage
Flowers (Buds) Reproductive structures containing cannabinoids
Seeds Reproduction and dispersal of the species
Roots Anchoring, nutrient and water absorption

1. Cola:

The Cola refers to the cluster of buds at the top of the female cannabis plant. It contains high concentrations of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, making it a crucial component for medical cannabis production. Colas are carefully cultivated and harvested for their therapeutic properties, contributing to the medicinal benefits of the plant.

2. Sugar Leaf:

Sugar Leaves are the small, sugar-coated leaves that surround the Cola and other buds. These leaves contain trichomes, which are resin-producing glands responsible for synthesising cannabinoids and terpenes. Sugar Leaves are also utilised in medical cannabis preparations due to their cannabinoid-rich content.

3. Pistil and Stigma:

Pistils and Stigmas are the reproductive structures of the female cannabis plant. The Pistil consists of the Stigma, which is a hair-like structure designed to capture pollen during pollination. While cannabis growers typically remove male plants to prevent seed development, these female reproductive components play a significant role in medical cannabis production as they are rich in cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds.

4. Trichomes:

Trichomes are tiny, crystal-like structures that cover the surface of cannabis plants, including the Cola and Sugar Leaves. These structures are the powerhouse of medicinal compounds, housing a majority of the cannabinoids and terpenes responsible for the therapeutic effects of medical cannabis. Trichomes are carefully preserved during harvesting to ensure maximum medicinal potency.

5. Fan Leaf:

Fan Leaves are the large, fan-shaped leaves that emerge from the cannabis plant’s branches. While they contain minimal cannabinoid content, they play a crucial role in the photosynthesis process, providing the plant with the energy it needs to produce therapeutic compounds. Fan Leaves also contribute to the overall health and vigour of the medical cannabis plant.

6. Bract and Calyx:

Bracts are modified leaves found at the base of each Cola, while Calyxes are small, cup-like structures that encase the cannabis seeds when pollinated. While Bracts and Calyxes have limited cannabinoid content, they are essential components for medical cannabis growers as they protect and support seed development, which is crucial for strain preservation and breeding purposes.

Life Cycle of the Cannabis Plant

The life cycle of the cannabis plant consists of several stages, each crucial for its survival and propagation. Let’s take a look at the key phases:

  1. Germination: The life cycle begins with a seed, which germinates when exposed to water, light, and suitable temperature conditions.
  2. Vegetative Stage: During this phase, the plant focuses on vegetative growth, producing leaves and stems. It requires ample light, nutrients, and water.
  3. Flowering Stage: As the plant matures, it enters the flowering stage. Female plants develop buds containing cannabinoids, while male plants produce pollen for pollination.
  4. Pollination: Cannabis plants employ various pollination methods, primarily wind pollination or insect-facilitated pollination.
  5. Seed Production: If pollination is successful, female plants produce seeds within their buds.
  6. Death and Decay: After seed production, the plant completes its life cycle and eventually dies or goes dormant.

Pollination Methods of the Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant has developed different strategies for pollination. The two main methods are:

  1. Wind Pollination: In this method, male cannabis plants release pollen grains into the air, which are carried by the wind and may land on female flowers, leading to fertilisation and seed production.
  2. Insect-Facilitated Pollination: Some cannabis strains have co-evolved with insects like bees and butterflies to facilitate pollination. These insects visit male flowers, collect pollen, and transfer it to female flowers, aiding in fertilisation.

Defence Mechanisms of the Cannabis Plant

To protect itself from predators and environmental stressors, the cannabis plant deploys various defence mechanisms. These include:

  1. Cannabinoids: Cannabis plants produce a range of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, which can deter herbivores and insects.
  2. Trichomes: Tiny hair-like structures on the surface of cannabis leaves and buds secrete resin, which contains cannabinoids and terpenes that can repel pests.
  3. Smell: The strong aroma produced by cannabis plants can attract pollinators and beneficial insects while repelling potential threats.
  4. Adaptability: Cannabis plants can adjust their growth patterns and chemistry in response to environmental conditions, enabling them to survive in various habitats.

Habitats of the Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant is remarkably adaptable and can thrive in diverse habitats, including:

  1. Outdoor Environments: Cannabis grows well in temperate climates with long growing seasons, such as parts of North America, Europe, and Asia.
  2. Indoor Cultivation: Controlled indoor environments with appropriate lighting, temperature, and humidity can also support cannabis growth.
  3. Greenhouses: Greenhouses offer a balance between outdoor and indoor cultivation, providing a controlled environment with natural light.

Various Types, Shapes, and Colours of Cannabis

Cannabis exhibits a wide array of types, shapes, and colours, influenced by factors such as genetics, cultivation techniques, and environmental conditions. Below are some common cannabis types:

Type Shape Colour
Sativa Tall, slender Light green, orange, yellow
Indica Short, bushy Dark green, purple
Ruderalis Small and rugged Pale green
Hybrids Varies depending on mix Combination of colours

Conclusion

The cannabis plant is a remarkable botanical wonder, with a rich history and countless applications in various fields. Understanding its anatomy, life cycle, pollination methods, defence mechanisms, habitats, and diverse characteristics can foster appreciation for this extraordinary plant. Whether it’s for medical purposes, recreational use, or industrial applications, the cannabis plant continues to intrigue and amaze humanity, reminding us of the wonders of nature.

Disclaimer:
This post aims to provide general information about the cannabis plant. Cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis is illegal without the correct authorisation Always abide by the laws and regulations put in place. Consult a qualified professional for personalised advice related to medical cannabis.

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Dosing Guidance for Dry Herb Vaporising

Dry herb vaporising offers a precise and efficient way to consume cannabis, allowing users to experience the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes without the potential harms associated with smoking. To ensure a safe and enjoyable vaporising experience, it’s essential to understand the boiling points of various terpenes and cannabinoids and how they impact the effects of cannabis.

Importance of Temperature Control
Temperature control is a critical aspect of dry herb vaporising, as different compounds in cannabis vaporise at specific temperatures. By adjusting the temperature, users can target specific cannabinoids and terpenes to customise their experience.

Boiling Points of Common Cannabinoids

Cannabinoid Boiling Point (°C)
THC 157°C
CBD 160-180°C
CBG 52-65°C
CBN 185°C
CBC 220°C
THCV 220°C

Boiling Points of Common Terpenes

Terpene Boiling Point (°C)
Myrcene 167°C
Limonene 176°C
Pinene 155°C
Linalool 198°C
Caryophyllene 130°C
Humulene 198°C
Terpinolene 185°C
Bisabolol 329°C
Eucalyptol 176°C
Guaiol 167°C
Nerolidol 161°C
Phytol 160°C

Dosage and Temperature Recommendations:

Cannabinoid / Terpene Temperature Range (°C) Potential Effects and Benefits
THC 157°C Euphoria, Relaxation, Pain Relief
CBD 160-180°C Anti-inflammatory, Anxiolytic, Anticonvulsant
CBG 52-65°C Neuroprotective, Anti-inflammatory, Potential Antibacterial Effects
CBN 185°C Mild Sedation, Potential Sleep Aid
CBC 220°C Anti-inflammatory, Potential Antidepressant Effects
THCV 220°C Potential Appetite Suppressant, Anticonvulsant
Myrcene 167°C Sedating, Relaxing, Potential Anti-inflammatory Effects
Limonene 176°C Uplifting, Mood-Enhancing, Potential Antioxidant Effects
Pinene 155°C Alertness, Memory Enhancement, Potential Bronchodilator
Linalool 198°C Calming, Stress-Reducing, Potential Analgesic Effects
Caryophyllene 130°C Anti-inflammatory, Potential Gastro-protective Effects, No Psychoactive effects
Humulene 198°C Anti-inflammatory, Potential Appetite Suppressant
Terpinolene 185°C Uplifting, Potential Antioxidant and Anticancer Effects
Bisabolol 329°C Calming, Potential Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects
Eucalyptol 176°C Potential Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Effects
Guaiol 167°C Potential Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects
Nerolidol 161°C Calming, Potential Sedative and Anti-fungal Effects
Phytol 160°C Potential Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects

Dosage Recommendations
Dosage for dry herb vaporising depends on several factors, including individual tolerance, desired effects, the potency of the cannabis strain and prescriber’s guidance. Start with a low dose and gradually increase until the desired effects are achieved.

Safety Considerations
Always use a reputable vaporiser with accurate temperature controls to ensure precise dosing and avoid combustion. High temperatures (above 230°C) may produce harmful by-products and should be avoided.

Conclusion
Dry herb vaporising provides a customisable and controlled method of cannabis consumption. Understanding the boiling points of cannabinoids and a wide range of terpenes allows users to fine-tune their experience and target specific effects. Start with low temperatures and dosage, gradually increasing as needed, to enjoy the full potential of cannabinoids and terpenes while minimising potential adverse effects.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this context is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice under any circumstances. It is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner before making any decisions or taking any actions related to medical treatment or dosing. The content here does not replace professional medical guidance, and any reliance on the information presented is at your own risk. We strive to maintain accuracy and up-to-date information; however, we do not warrant the completeness, reliability, or validity of the information provided. Therefore, we disclaim any liability for any adverse outcomes or damages arising from the use or misuse of the information mentioned here. Always seek personalised medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider for your specific medical condition or situation.

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Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC): Exploring the Potential Medical Applications of this Novel Compound

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) Structural Formula
Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) Structural Formula

Introduction

In the rapidly advancing field of medical cannabis, researchers and manufacturers continuously explore new cannabinoids with the potential for therapeutic benefits. Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), a lesser-known compound found in cannabis plants, has attracted attention due to its unique properties and potential medical applications. This comprehensive blog post aims to provide medical cannabis patients and academics with an in-depth understanding of HHC, including its definition, pros and cons, sources, manufacturing processes, and potential medical uses.

What is Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)?

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. Structurally similar to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, HHC features a slightly altered molecular structure. Like other cannabinoids, HHC is derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the precursor molecule for various cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

Pros of Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)

  1. Therapeutic Potential: Preliminary research suggests that HHC may possess therapeutic properties, including analgesic (pain-relieving), anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety effects. Further studies are necessary to investigate its potential in treating specific medical conditions.
  2. Alternative to THC: HHC provides an alternative for patients who may experience adverse effects or discomfort associated with high levels of THC consumption. It may offer a more balanced and subtle psychoactive experience while potentially reducing THC-related side effects.
  3. Novel Cannabinoid: HHC expands the range of cannabinoids available for researchers to explore, contributing to our understanding of the complex chemistry of cannabis and its medicinal applications. It presents an exciting opportunity to uncover new therapeutic possibilities.

Cons of Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)

  1. Limited Research: As a relatively new cannabinoid, scientific research on HHC remains limited. This lack of comprehensive studies makes it challenging to fully assess its safety profile, potential side effects, and long-term impacts. Further research is needed to evaluate its efficacy and safety in various medical contexts.
  2. Regulatory Status: The legal and regulatory status of HHC may vary across different jurisdictions. It is crucial for patients and consumers to adhere to local laws and regulations regarding the use and possession of HHC-containing products. Engaging in transparent and open communication with healthcare professionals is essential.

Sources of Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)

HHC can be found in cannabis plants, albeit in relatively low concentrations compared to other cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It is primarily obtained through specialized cultivation techniques and genetic selection to enhance HHC production in specific cannabis strains. Cultivators employ careful breeding strategies to optimize the production of this unique cannabinoid.

Manufacturing Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)

The manufacturing process for HHC involves several crucial steps, including extraction, isolation, and purification. Here is a detailed overview of the process:

  1. Extraction: The initial step involves extracting the desired cannabinoids, including HHC, from cannabis plant material. Common extraction methods include solvent-based techniques such as hydrocarbon or ethanol extraction. These methods help separate the cannabinoids from the plant material, resulting in a crude extract.
  2. Isolation: Following extraction, the crude cannabinoid extract undergoes further purification to isolate HHC. Techniques like chromatography, crystallization, or distillation are employed to separate HHC from other cannabinoids and impurities present in the crude extract. The specific isolation method may vary based on the desired purity and intended application of the HHC.
  3. Purification: To obtain a high-purity form of HHC, additional purification steps are necessary. Filtration techniques, solvent removal, and further chromatographic separations can be employed to remove residual impurities and enhance the purity of the HHC isolate.
  4. Formulation: Once the purified HHC is obtained, it can be incorporated into various delivery systems such as oils, tinctures, capsules, or topical products, depending on the desired application and patient needs. These formulations enable convenient and precise dosing for medical cannabis patients.

Potential Medical Applications of Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC)

While research on HHC is still in its early stages, several potential medical applications have been proposed based on the known effects of cannabinoids. These potential applications include:

  1. Pain Management: HHC’s analgesic properties may make it a potential candidate for managing chronic pain conditions. Further research is needed to evaluate its effectiveness in different pain syndromes and compare it to existing treatments.
  2. Inflammation: Studies suggest that HHC might possess anti-inflammatory properties, which could be explored in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  3. Anxiety and Mood Disorders: HHC’s potential anxiolytic effects may offer benefits in managing anxiety and mood disorders. Further research is necessary to explore its efficacy, safety, and optimal dosing regimens.
  4. Neurological Disorders: Given the complex interaction between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system in the brain, HHC could be investigated for its potential in neuroprotective and neurodegenerative disorders like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease.

Conclusion

Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) represents a novel cannabinoid that holds promise for therapeutic applications within the field of medical cannabis. While research on HHC is still limited, its potential benefits and unique properties warrant further investigation. Medical cannabis patients considering the use of HHC-containing products should consult healthcare professionals and adhere to local laws and regulations. As scientific knowledge expands, a better understanding of HHC’s advantages, drawbacks, and optimal medical applications will emerge, contributing to the advancement of cannabis-based therapies.

Sources

  1. Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364.
  2. Navarro, G., et al. (2020). Cannabigerol action at cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors and at CB1–CB2 heteroreceptor complexes. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 5(1), 66-75.
  3. Hazekamp, A., et al. (2016). Cannabis—From cultivar to chemovar II: A metabolomics approach to cannabis classification. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1), 202-215.

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Terpenes: Unveiling Nature’s Aromatic Healers in Cannabis

Introduction

Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in various plants, including cannabis, have gained attention for their potential therapeutic benefits. These natural wonders not only provide delightful scents and flavours but also contribute to the entourage effect, enhancing the medicinal properties of cannabinoids. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of terpenes, exploring their diverse benefits and highlighting their presence in cannabis strains.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are organic compounds produced in the resin glands of plants, including cannabis. They are responsible for the distinctive aromas and tastes of different strains. In addition to their sensory appeal, terpenes offer a range of therapeutic effects. More than 200 terpenes have been identified in cannabis, each with its own unique characteristics and potential health benefits.

Natural Occurrence of Terpenes

Terpenes are not unique to cannabis; they are widespread in the plant kingdom and can be found in various fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. These compounds are synthesised in the resin glands of plants and serve essential ecological functions. In nature, terpenes act as attractants for pollinators, deterrents for predators, and defence mechanisms against microbial and insect attacks. The diverse aromas and flavours emitted by plants owe their existence to the rich variety of terpenes present. From the soothing scent of lavender to the zesty aroma of citrus fruits, terpenes create an aromatic symphony in the natural world.

Historical and Cultural Influence of Terpenes

Terpenes have played significant roles in human history and culture. For centuries, people have utilised the aromatic properties of plants containing terpenes for various purposes. In ancient civilisations, plants rich in terpenes were used in traditional medicine, perfumery, and religious rituals. The Egyptians used myrrh, a resinous plant containing terpenes, in embalming processes. The ancient Greeks and Romans valued the uplifting effects of terpene-rich plants like mint and rosemary. Throughout history, the cultural significance of terpenes has extended to culinary arts, where herbs and spices infused with terpenes add depth and flavour to dishes. Today, terpenes continue to shape the world of fragrance, food, and medicine, providing us with an appreciation of nature’s aromatic wonders.

Harnessing Terpenes for Medicinal Use

For medical cannabis patients, understanding terpenes is essential for optimising treatment. By selecting strains with specific terpene profiles, patients can tailor their cannabis-based therapies to suit their individual needs. Consulting with a knowledgeable healthcare professional or pharmacist experienced in medical cannabis can provide valuable guidance in strain selection.

Terpenes have shown promise in various areas of health and wellness. When combined with cannabinoids like THC and CBD, they work synergistically to enhance the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Let’s explore some of the prominent terpenes found in cannabis and their potential medicinal benefits:

Myrcene:

  • Aroma: Herbal, Musky
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • Sedative properties, aiding in relaxation and stress relief.
    • Potential anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce pain and inflammation.

Limonene:

  • Aroma: Citrus
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • Uplifting and energising, making it effective in combating depression and anxiety.
    • May have gastro-protective properties, promoting digestive health.

Pinene:

  • Aroma: Pine
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • Promotes mental alertness and memory retention.
    • Acts as a bronchodilator, potentially aiding respiratory conditions like asthma.

Linalool:

  • Aroma: Floral
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • Exhibits calming effects, helping to ease anxiety and improve sleep quality.
    • Shows potential as an antimicrobial, aiding in wound healing and infection prevention.

Caryophyllene:

  • Aroma: Spicy, Peppery
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • Acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, potentially relieving chronic pain.
    • Binds to CB2 receptors, contributing to the overall anti-inflammatory effect.

Humulene:

  • Aroma: Earthy, Woody
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • Exhibits anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
    • May have potential as an appetite suppressant.

Terpinolene:

  • Aroma: Floral, Herbal
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • Exhibits sedative effects, aiding in relaxation and sleep.
    • Shows promise as an antioxidant and anticancer agent.

Terpineol:

  • Aroma: Floral, Lilac
  • Medicinal Benefits:
    • May have relaxing and sedative effects.
    • Shows potential as an antimicrobial and antioxidant.

Table of Known Terpenes and Their Health Benefits:

TerpeneAromaNatural SourcesMedicinal Benefits
MyrceneHerbal, MuskyMango, Lemongrass, Hops, ThymeSedative, Anti-Inflammatory
LimoneneCitrusLemon, Lime, Orange, Rosemary, JuniperUplifting, Antidepressant, Digestive Health
PinenePinePine Needles, Rosemary, Basil, SageMental Alertness, Bronchodilator
LinaloolFloralLavender, Jasmine, Rosewood, CorianderCalming, Sleep Aid, Antimicrobial
CaryophylleneSpicy, PepperyBlack Pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon, HopsAnti-Inflammatory, Pain Relief
HumuleneEarthy, WoodyHops, Coriander, Basil, ClovesAnti-Inflammatory, Analgesic, Potential Appetite Suppressant
TerpinoleneFloral, HerbalLilacs, Nutmeg, Tea Tree, ApplesSedative, Antioxidant, Potential Anticancer Agent
TerpineolFloral, LilacLilacs, Pine, Eucalyptus, CannabisRelaxing, Sedative, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant

Conclusion

Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants, offer more than just pleasant scents and flavours. These natural wonders possess a wide range of potential medicinal benefits when combined with cannabinoids. By exploring the diverse terpenes present in cannabis strains, patients can make informed choices to enhance their health and well-being. As the scientific understanding of terpenes continues to grow, we can expect further advancements in cannabis-based therapies and the utilisation of these aromatic healers.

Note: It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any medical cannabis treatment to ensure safety and efficacy for your specific medical conditions.

Terpenes: Unveiling Nature’s Aromatic Healers in Cannabis Read More »

A Table To Help Manage ECS

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

Introduction

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and homeostasis within our bodies. It consists of a complex network of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that interact with cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. For medical cannabis patients in the UK, understanding the ECS is essential for maximising the therapeutic benefits of cannabis-based treatments. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the endocannabinoid system, its functions, and how it relates to medical cannabis.

The Endocannabinoid System: An Overview

The ECS is composed of three primary components: endocannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. The two main receptors within the ECS are CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are predominantly located in the immune system and peripheral tissues. Endocannabinoids, such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), are naturally occurring compounds produced within our bodies that bind to these receptors. Enzymes, specifically fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), break down endocannabinoids once their purpose is served.

Functions of the Endocannabinoid System

The ECS plays a vital role in regulating numerous physiological processes, including:

a. Pain and Inflammation: Activation of CB1 receptors in the central nervous system can help modulate pain perception, while CB2 receptors in the immune system regulate inflammation and immune responses.

b. Mood and Stress: The ECS influences mood regulation by interacting with neurotransmitter systems. Activation of CB1 receptors has been associated with the alleviation of anxiety and depression symptoms.

c. Sleep and Appetite: The ECS is involved in the regulation of sleep-wake cycles and appetite. CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus and limbic system influence food intake and energy balance.

d. Memory and Learning: The ECS is implicated in memory formation and neuroplasticity. CB1 receptors in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex contribute to these cognitive functions.

Medical Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System

Medical cannabis, containing cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), interacts with the ECS to exert its therapeutic effects. THC binds to CB1 receptors, producing psychoactive effects and influencing pain perception, appetite, and mood. CBD, on the other hand, has a low affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors but modulates the ECS indirectly by interacting with other receptor systems. CBD has shown promise in reducing seizures, managing pain and inflammation, and aiding with anxiety and sleep disorders.

Optimising Medical Cannabis Use in the UK

For medical cannabis patients in the UK, optimising the use of cannabis-based treatments involves several key considerations:

a. Strain Selection: Different cannabis strains contain varying ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes, each with unique therapeutic properties. Working with a healthcare professional or pharmacist experienced in medical cannabis can help identify the most suitable strains for individual conditions.

b. Dosage and Administration: Accurate dosing is essential to achieve desired therapeutic effects while minimising side effects. Patients should start with low doses and gradually increase until they find their optimal dosage. Various administration methods, such as inhalation, oral ingestion, and topical application, offer different onset times and durations.

c. Monitoring and Adjusting: Regular monitoring of symptoms and side effects is crucial to evaluating treatment efficacy. Adjustments to dosage, strain, or administration method may be necessary to optimise therapeutic outcomes.

Conclusion

Understanding the endocannabinoid system is fundamental for medical cannabis patients in the UK seeking effective relief from various conditions. By comprehending how the ECS functions and interacts with cannabinoids, patients can make informed decisions about strain selection, dosing, and administration methods. Additionally, working closely with healthcare professionals ensures safe and personalised treatment plans. The evolving landscape of medical cannabis research may further enhance our knowledge of the ECS and unlock new possibilities for therapeutic interventions in the future.

References:

  1. Pacher, P., & Kunos, G. (2013). Modulating the endocannabinoid system in human health and disease: successes and failures. The FEBS Journal, 280(9), 1918–1943.
  2. Pertwee, R. G. (2008). The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. British Journal of Pharmacology, 153(2), 199–215.
  3. Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 4(1), 245–259.
  4. Zuardi, A. W. (2008). Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 30(3), 271–280.

More Cannabis Science

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System Read More »

Understanding Cannabis Prescriptions w/ Prof. Mike Barnes

The Sanskara Platform asks Professor Mike Barnes questions to understand about Irradiation, The Entourage Effect and Certificate of Analysis, how it is effecting medical cannabis patients in the UK and how we can make improvements from what we understand.

> Irradiation (Is it necessary?, What are the pros and cons?, What are the regulations around it and what do they mean?)

> Entourage Effect (Is it a myth? How can we test it? What can be done to identify it?)

> CoAs (The importance of a CoA, Can and should patients access them? How can we understand them?)

> Patient Rights (Should doctors be informing patients of their rights? What do patients need to know? Can clinics provide forms of ID/Verification to reassure patients, landlords, employers, venue security/management and the police?)

> Clinics/Clinicians (Should clinics be deciding what the doctors prescribe? What can be done to ensure patients have access to all/any products available on the medical cannabis market? Will we see a platform for doctors and patients to access a product directory and live stock updates?)

Understanding Cannabis Prescriptions w/ Prof. Mike Barnes Read More »

What Do Patients Want?

In this post we discuss the products currently prescribed to patients and strains that patients would like to see on the medical cannabis market. We put together a short questionnaire to ask patients what products they are prescribed and for what condition, how they feel about the products prescribed to them and if it is beneficial for their condition, what strains they are familiar with and what condition do they benefit. We also asked patients to provide some feedback on their experiences as a Medical Cannabis Patient. We received 21 responses from patients, here are the results:

Conditions Identified
ConditionTotal
Anxiety10
Neuropathic Pain8
Epilepsy0
Parkinson’s0
Scleroderma0
Other12
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Neuropathic Pain Colitis
  • CPTSD
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Chronic Pain
  • Migraines
  • Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Fibromyalgia
  • Nerve Pain
Medical Cannabis Products
Graph Showing What Products Patients Are Prescribed.

From this graph we can identify 2 products commonly used among patients. Khiron 18-22/1 THC Hindu Kush & Adven EMT 1 19% THC (Cairo – Unknown Strain). ‘Khiron Hindu Kush 18-22/1 THC CBD Flos’ was commonly found among patients with Neurological Pain and Anxiety whereas ‘Adven Flos EMT 1 19% THC’ was used for most of the conditions mentioned. Within the Khiron product patients can identify the strain as Hindu Kush, whereas with ALL Adven products the patients are left unaware of the strain name and pretty much any other information.

What Patients Want

List of Strains Preferred By Patients Not On The Medical Market;

  • Blue Cheese (Sleep, Depression, Anxiety)
  • Cheese
  • Granddaddy Purple (Anxiety, Pain)
  • Northern Lights  (Pain, Sleep)
  • Biscotti (Anxiety)
  • Zkittles
  • Gorilla Zkittles
  • Strawberry Cough (Anxiety)
  • Strawberry Haze
  • Strawberry Diesel
  • Do-si-do (Rumor there was an Adven (EMT 6) of this same strain)
  • Girl Scout Cookies (Anxiety)
  • Sour Diesel (Anxiety, Pain)
  • Green Crack (Anxiety)
  • Purple Punch
  • OG Kush (Sleep, Depression, Anxiety, Pain)
  • S5 Haze (Sleep, Depression, Anxiety)
  • Chocolate (Sleep, Depression, Anxiety)
  • Pink Panties
  • Stardawg (Pain, Anxiety)
  • Super Silver Haze
  • Train Wreck
  • Afghan (Pain, Sleep)
  • Afghan Kush (Pain, Sleep)
  • Rhino Ryder (Pain, Sleep)
  • Bubba Kush (Pain, Sleep)

Patients have emphasised that there are so many strains that they could list although the list is still quite long. No patient was able to identify products from any medical market so there are no CoA with these products they have tested. The 2 most common strains mentioned were Granddaddy Purple (5x) and Stardawg (4x). Grandaddy Purple is best known for treating pain, stress, insomnia, appetite loss, and muscle spasms. Although Stardawg can help treat stress, fatigue and anxiety disorder, patients with pain issues also noted that it helped them too.

Types Of Products

We asked patients what type of products they would benefit from as we received a diverse result. Most patients identified that they benefit mostly from High THC/Low CBD Flower and also identified that Hashish is also beneficial. Currently patients are unable to get Hashish prescribed to them, in the Australian market there is “Bubble Hash” which can be made without additional chemicals or gasses. The Bubble Hash found in the Australian Market is called CannaTrek T55 (Bubble Hash Topaz), from the name it indicates a strong medication. The other products patients would like to see were Pollen Hash.

Conclusion

Examining the feedback from patients it is quite obvious that the consistency of medication we all receive is poor and is proving to affect patient’s treatments. Although medical cannabis has been available since 2018, 3.5 years on and we are still experiencing slow development and improvements to the products we are prescribed. The variety that’s available at the moment is not diverse enough and patients have to be okay with whatever they get prescribed, this causes patients to experience ‘strain lock’, in turn affecting their treatment.

Cost of medication is also something highlighted by patients. The cost is always compared with the illicit market and in doing so we can see that Medical Cannabis is still very expensive, especially for patients who are unable to work due to their health and rely on benefits. Key compounds in cannabis that patients feel are not being taken seriously are ‘Terpenes’. Patients have said that due to the way the product goes through drying, curing, storage and steralisation patients say they can notice a significant decrease in quality and standards.

In conclusion, standards need to improve and prices need to match that of the quality and that of patient needs before entering the market. More products are needed that patients are familiar with and of those products that patients are aware benefit their conditions. We also need more variety of products, including Bubble Hash and Vape Cartridges to help patients who are unable to benefit from Flower, Oils or Capsules. ‘High THC/Low CBD’ flower is most common but there is still a need for ‘Balanced’ flower too.

Patient Feedback
The irradiation process destroys any smell/terpenes from the flower and really does let the whole market down.
Irradiated seems to remove the taste as well as the smell and most of the time the products seem to come as they have been left in storage for too long. Recent batch of EMT 1 has improved because of new method of storage, this has reflected on the effects too!
The frustration for me is the process, there seems like a lot of red tape to make this efficient. Typical “make it hard” strategy from the government who make things a lot harder than it needs to be. Risk assessment gurus who have to make sure there is a safe way to achieve an easy win! Sadly until this is more second nature this will be the case with the UK. It seems also that lots more would benefit from the medicine however this isn’t possible for those who don’t work! Making a system that’s only available for those who are in a position to pay! This in itself discriminates those who can’t afford it and is again a government incentive that only works, as there is money to be made through it. Other countries seem to have this sorted and even have recreational use in hand! Sadly again with the UK we are behind in thinking we know best! When I’m actual fact they are just over cautious as usual and are blind sighted with the fact that legalisation would not only reduce police time! But would create a revenue to assist in these hard times of recession! And would also satisfy the public in regards to allowing it to be legal.
I am currently allowed 30g of flower per month (1g per day) but I actually use double that on average, the prices are actually higher than black market flowers and they don’t have the quality of it yet.
The flower dose not need to be irradiated to meet standards a d its proven by many this needs to stop also the flower needs to be hand trimmed not machines as its destroying the end product and we should be able to pick and choice a flower to what we want not be subject to one type
The Hindu Kush I get prescribed is good for pain relief but I need large doses. Not sure if it’s the lack of terps due to sterilisation or perhaps lack of potency in terms of THC.  I can imagine a tolerance will quickly build up. But for now after just 1 prescription it works well enough.
I appreciate the prescription so much and recognise were early in the process but disappointed at the general standard of products and lack of choice.
The products are improving but it’s crazy to think that there is a high standard market across the globe and we are only importing products that are only just improving… where was the R&D? Irradiation, incorrect curing and storage certainly affect the terpenes but it’s never a concern to the clinicians. We don’t even get Product Information Leaflets with our medicines.
Products are way too expensive for patients without jobs due to disability

What Do Patients Want? Read More »

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