Several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. Dronabinol (tetrahydrocannabinol) has been available by prescription for more than a decade in the USA. Other therapeutic uses of cannabinoids are being demonstrated by controlled studies, including treatment of asthma and glaucoma, as an antidepressant, appetite stimulant, anticonvulsant and anti-spasmodic, research in this area should continue. For example, more basic research on the central and peripheral mechanisms of the effects of cannabinoids on gastrointestinal function may improve the ability to alleviate nausea and emesis. More research is needed on the basic neuropharmacology of THC and other cannabinoids so that better therapeutic agents can be found.
Despite its centrality in human cultures across the globe, the European taxonomists who bequeathed Cannabis sativa its name didn’t quite get it right. When Carolus Linneaus came to naming the marijuana plant’s genus, he thought there was only one species, instead of the three we now know exist. Hence the confusion surrounding the fact that there are three distinct species of the genus Cannabis sativa, one of which is the sativa species.
The following sketch of hemp cultivation is insufficient to address all of the practical problems that are encountered by hemp growers. Bócsa and Karus (1998) is the best overall presentation of hemp growing available in English. The reader is warned that this book, as well as almost all of the literature on hemp, is very much more concerned with fiber production than oilseed production. McPartland et al. (2000) is the best presentation available on diseases and pests, which fortunately under most circumstances do limited damage. The resource list presented below should be consulted by those wishing to learn about hemp production. Provincial agronomists in Canada now have experience with hemp, and can make local recommendations. Particularly good web documents are: for Ontario (OMAFRA Hemp Series, several documents): www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/crops/hort/hemp.html); for Manitoba (several documents): www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/hemp/bko01s00.html; for British Columbia: (BC Ministry of Agriculture and Foods Fact Sheet on Industrial Hemp, prepared by A. Oliver and H. Joynt): www.agf.gov.bc.ca/croplive/plant/horticult/specialty/specialty.htm
In the past few years, just such a cure has seemingly presented itself. Amid the less common remedies that can be found on the internet—special diets, meditation, biofeedback, surgical implants—a new product has recently gained prominence: CBD oil (sometimes known simply as “hemp oil”), so named for its chief chemical compound, cannabidiol, which occurs naturally in cannabis plants. In online forums and news articles, CBD has been hailed as a new frontier in epilepsy treatment, with parents testifying that it managed to stop their children’s seizures when nothing else could.
Hemp oil has never been as popular as other marijuana products. With little to no THC, CBD-rich strains of cannabis don’t deliver the pleasant buzz recreational users seek out in marijuana. In the 1970s, however, scientists found that cannabidiol was effective in reducing seizures. The brain’s endocannabinoid system contains receptors that respond to CBD, producing anticonvulsant effects. Being plant-derived and native to the brain’s own chemistry, CBD is therefore one of the most natural options for seizure treatment available today. Still, not many people took interest in CBD until 2013, when a CNN documentary special, Weed, hosted by the network’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, highlighted CBD’s effectiveness in combating seizures. Since then, demand for hemp oil products has exploded.
Pain management improves a patient’s quality of life throughout all stages of cancer. Through the study of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and synthetic agonists and antagonists, the mechanisms of cannabinoid-induced analgesia have been analyzed.[Level of evidence:1iC] The CB1 receptor is found in the central nervous system (CNS) and in peripheral nerve terminals. CB2 receptors are located mainly in peripheral tissue and are expressed in only low amounts in the CNS. Whereas only CB1 agonists exert analgesic activity in the CNS, both CB1 and CB2 agonists have analgesic activity in peripheral tissue.[48,49]