Science revealing Secrets of the Cannabis Plant
One particularly cold day in late November last year, my husband calmly announced he was going out to get some cannabis. I nearly fell off my rocking chair, and exclaimed “What…. What…. What”?
Turns out he was nipping into town to a well-known and entirely respectable high street health shop, to purchase a bottle of CBD oil. This is all quite legal and I was somewhat relieved to hear he was not meeting someone in a dark alley to do whatever folk do in dark alleys. (I was brought up watching TV detective Columbo by way of explanation of a dark alley scenario, which I understand is not what happens today when purchasing another form of Cannabis used for recreational purposes).
I have been doing a bit of research into the cannabis plant and have discovered that medical scientists are only now beginning to fathom the varied uses that may be derived from its many chemical compounds. Incredibly, for over six thousand years, the cannabis plant, because of its strong stem fibres, also known as hemp, has been used to make cloth, rope, sails and shoes and historical discoveries have found clothing made of hemp in ancient burial grounds from Egypt to China. Contained in Egyptian writings, the plant we know as cannabis was used medicinally, ceremonially and recreationally with very old drawings and hieroglyphs showing a plant that looks remarkably like cannabis sativa.
CBD (cannabidiol), is only one of 480 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant it is sometimes used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory. Hearing that CBD oil may be used to try and relieve the discomfort of gout, a form of arthritis, which my husband now has in his hand was his motivation to go for the ‘cannabis option’. He has used a knife for 45 years in his work life as a chef and his ‘knife’ hand flares up, usually in cold weather. This form of CBD comes in the form of hemp seed oil and hemp paste (leaf and flower). A few drops are applied under the tongue. He says it tastes disgusting but he, like many who suffer with inflamed joints, is willing to try almost anything to combat the pain.
Whilst CBD is only in its infancy medically, scientists who are working with it are hoping to discover that the cannabis plant, with its many chemical compounds, will, in future years, yield health giving benefits for a range of illnesses, but testing is still limited because it is illegal to grow except in specialist testing sites. Professor of chemistry Raphael Mechoulam, works from a laboratory in Tel Aviv, Israel where he and a colleague first discovered THC and then CBD, and although he has written over 400 scientific papers over a lifetime of studying cannabis, he says there is still a “medicinal treasure trove waiting to be discovered”.
Of course, another compound in the cannabis plant, THC, (Tetrahydrocannabidiol), is the one that gives you a ‘high’, impairs your mental state and is also known as marijuana and, by the way, is illegal in almost every country in the world. Both CBD and THC are chemical compounds found naturally in the plants Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica but, over the years, crossbreeding of cannabis plants has resulted in some cannabis strains developing higher levels of THC. Typically CBD oil, hemp, has a THC content of under 0.3 percent making it legal to sell, but the more potent varieties have around 5 percent and these are the plants (using dried flowers and buds) used in today’s illegal drug market.
CBD oil use has been found to have no psychoactive effects on humans, and up to now I have not noticed my husband flying from the chandelier in a daze and he seems to think it is helping alleviate the discomfort in his hand, so let’s hope that medical scientists in future years can find some amazing properties in the complex plant that is cannabis and that they are used to help mankind, as well as my husband and his gout!