The Medicinal and Nutritional Uses of Cannabis Sativa
by Chris Conrad, author of Hemp, Lifeline to the Future
“One of marihuana’s greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions. There is no known case of a lethal overdose; Marihuana is also far less addictive and far less subject to abuse than many drugs now used as muscle relaxants, hypnotics, and analgesics. The ostensible indifference of physicians should no longer be used as a justification for keeping this medicine in the shadows.” — Journal of the American Medical Association, June 21, 1995. Commentary. p. 1874-1875.
When the Journal of the American Medical Association ran its 1995 commentary in calling on physicians to support the medical use of marijuana, many people wondered what took so long. For over 3,500 years, strains of the herb cannabis sativa, or true hemp, have been among the most widely used of medicinal plants. This includes civilizations in China, India, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In America from 1850 to 1937, hemp was used to treat over 100 separate diseases or conditions.
Herbal cannabis and its derivatives are eaten, smoked or used as topical salves and herbal packs, depending on the condition being treated. Furthermore, hemp seeds are nutritious and work as a laxative. A hardy, easy to grow herb, cannabis hemp is affordable health care. Hemp has many safe & natural therapeutic uses. Hemp medicines offer better health and could add both to the longevity and quality of life. Modern medical uses of true hemp include it in therapeutic treatments for cancer, glaucoma (blindness), AIDS, pain, asthma, epilepsy, MS, nausea, cramps, muscle spasms, insomnia, neuralgia, earache, herpes, arthritis, rheumatism, migraine, stress, depression and anorexia. It is an antibiotic, a pain reliever and an expectorant, used in topical ointments and taken internally. Symptoms of asthma, migraine, glaucoma, and others can be contained, bringing effective relief to people who suffer from these life-long conditions. Many other uses are likely. A variety of preparations are possible, from collecting the female cannabis flower’s resins into smokable hashish, or edible gel capsules and wafers; and from isomerizing hash oils to synthesizing THC.
Over the years, cancer will strike in approximately three out of four families. At present rates, about a hundred million Americans now living will develop cancer; about one in three people. Cannabis reduces pain and helps cancer patients sleep and rest. It reduces the gut-wrenching nausea caused by chemotherapy while it stimulates their appetites to help them eat and combat excessive weight loss (wasting syndrome). It also usually raises the patients’ spirits, improving their overall chances of recovery.
These same healing characteristics are utilized by thousands of AIDS patients. Since the AIDS epidemic exploded in 1981, more than a quarter million Americans and 55,000 Californians have died from AIDS or HIV-related illnesses &endash; almost 18% of the total AIDS / HIV related deaths in the United States.
Most sufferers of glaucoma, one of the nation’s leading causes of blindness, could benefit from cannabis. In the United States alone, 3 to 4 million people have this disease and are at risk of serious loss of sight, including 6 percent of those over age 65. Regular doses of cannabis halt this painful and progressive loss of vision by reducing the pressure which builds up within the eye.
Pain control through cannabis is often achieved not by consuming the flowers, but the leaves. This is because the cannabidiol (CBD) seems to play a major analgesic role. The leaves are also used to treat migraine headaches, which afflict some 11,023,000 people nationally.
There are about 32,642,000 arthritis cases nationally. Consumption through eating or smoking cannabis also helps control pain and inflammation. A traditional treatment for rheumatism and arthritis is to soak cannabis leaves in alcohol and wrap them around the joints to reduce swelling and pain, and to ease movement. By straining the plant matter from the alcohol or further distilling it into a tincture, a topical antibiotic is produced.
Stress is the number one killer, in that it is a major contributor to heart disease. The relaxational healing power of herbal hemp reduces mental agitation and lends a sense of humor. Hemp is well known for its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation, and has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and for enhancing sensory experiences such as enjoyment of music and art.
Safety. While there is little information available on the incidence of other diseases, mortality data are available for all causes of death. In California, heart disease was the leading cause of deaths in 1993, accounting for 31.1%. Cancer was second, accounting for 23.0%. The distant third was stroke, 6.9%, followed by pneumonia/influenza and lung disease, each of which accounted for 4.8%, and accidents at 4.3%. Rounding out the top 10 causes of death were AIDS at 2.9%; homicide at 1.9%; diabetes at 1.7%; and suicide at 1.7%. Not one single death by cannabis overdose has ever been reported. While smoking hemp flowers is demonstrably safer than smoking tobacco leaves, concerns about the health effects of smoke in general cause many people to consume cannabis medicinal compounds in foods. Most famous are perhaps, the brownie variety, in which cannabis or its resin, hashish, are baked into a chocolate confection. Modern cannabis cookery includes health-conscious recipes and main courses such as pasta sauce, etc.
To the reader: Not all patients respond exactly the same to the same medication, and not all varieties of cannabis work equally well in treating specific problems. For example, a variety that stimulates the appetite may not be as effective in controlling aches and pains. Only certain kinds of cannabis plants produce medicinal compounds in sufficient levels to be useful. Most hemp has no medical use at all, except for making bandages and emollients. Cannabis is a complex combination of related compounds that modulates many conditions simultaneously in both homeopathic and allopathic levels. As a result, its effectiveness is directly linked to dosage. Personal research under the supervision of a health care professional is the safest way to determine utility. That will enable the patient to identify the ideal seed line.
The hempseed has no drug content. It does contain protein in an excellent nutritional combination. Essential fatty acids in the hemp seed help build the immunological response system and appear to reduce cholesterol levels. There are many ways to prepare the seed into tasty foods, and commercial products already on the market. A gourmet banquet held in Maui set the pace for creative culinary hemp seed connoisseurs.
Holistic health: the ecology of hemp. Creating a cleaner environment will improve the overall health of the planet and all people. This can be enhanced through sustainable industries and reduced industrial and agricultural emissions. Industrial hemp can be farmed using no pesticides, fungicides or herbicides and less synthetic fertilizers than many other crops, reducing agricultural pollution and costs. Using hemp instead of fossil fuels, trees and other limited resources will further preserve the environment. Processing technology is available to have less impact on the ecology and help maintain a sustainable balance to the planet. That is the basis for a healthy future for all.
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