Medical Cannabis FAQs
What are the medical properties of cannabis?
The cannabis plant produces more than 700 chemical compounds. Of these, the cannabinoids, a group of over 80 molecules with chemical structures called terpenophenolics, have been researched for their medical properties. Medicinal resin is primarily produced in the flowering tops of the female cannabis plant. Tips of specialized plant hairs secrete the resin, a medicinal psychoactive substance, which consists of terpenoids, fats, and cannabinoids. When resin heads are ruptured, they release intense aromatic chemicals called terpenoids, which are associated with the smell of cannabis. These resin heads contain the most medically interesting chemicals produced by the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, and inflammation. They provide medical benefits by imitating compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids, which activate to maintain internal stability and health. Over 100 cannabinoids are produced by cannabis, but only a few are produced in any significant quantity. They can be categorized into four primary structural types: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol), and CBC (cannabichromene). A fifth type, CBN (cannabinol), is not produced by the plant but results from the oxidation of THC as it breaks down. When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout our brain and body. Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to.
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive property of cannabis. THC has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, and is the traditional property of cannabis used to treat pain. Other effects include relaxation, alteration of visual, auditory, and olfactory senses, fatigue, and appetite stimulation. Evidence suggests that THC helps alleviate symptoms suffered both by AIDS patients and by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy by increasing appetite and decreasing nausea. It has also been shown to assist patients suffering from glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and movement disorders, fibromyalgia, insomnia and sleep disorders, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, seizure disorders, and many other ailments.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive property of cannabis that has significant medical benefits, without making the user feel “high” or “stoned.” CBD exhibits analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects across a wide range of symptoms and conditions. It is also an effective anticonvulsant, and has demonstrated neuro-protective and neurogenic effects. CBD interacts with a wide range of receptors – more than THC – which may explain its broad effects. Scientific and clinical studies underscore CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.
What is the difference between Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strains?
Cannabis plants have been bred over time to cultivate specific medical properties. The two primary strain families are Indica and Sativa, and Hybrids of the two are extremely common. Indicas were traditionally developed for AIDS and cancer patients, and has a more body high, relaxing, and sedative effect. Sativas have a more stimulating psychoactive effect, and are more mood-elevating and good for daytime use. Hybrids, a mix of indica and sativa strains, are the most common strain types available today.
What are cannabis concentrates?
Concentrates traditionally refer to solvent extracted oils, butters, and waxes as well as solventless products like kief, bubble hash, and water extracted hash. Solvent extraction of cannabis began in the 1970s, and has been controversial since it began. The controversy centers on using industrial solvents to accomplish the extraction. Today, solvents like butane, carbon dioxide (CO2), and propane are used to extract cannabis oil. While solvent extraction of cannabis may produce cannabis medicines of the greatest concentration and highest potency, the use of such solvents involves manufacturing methods whose processes can seriously injure or even kill. We recommend solventless concentrates or a cleaner solvent like CO2, but carry all varieties of concentrates to meet our patients’ needs.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction
Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction involves pumping highly pressurized liquid CO2 through cannabis several times. This extract is separated from the CO2, and leaves no harmful residues in the resulting product. Supercritical CO2 is an excellent organic solvent that can be used to extract aromatic oils from plants. The beauty of CO2 extraction is that once the oil is extracted from the plant material, the CO2 returns to its gaseous state by lowering its pressure, allowing the gas to quickly and completely dissipate.
Butane & Propane Extraction
BHO (Butane Hash Oil) has become both highly popular and controversial in recent years, due to unregulated and dangerous manufacture. When made in professional, closed-loop solvent extraction systems, butane extraction is a safe and clean method for extracting medicine from cannabis. Butane is a relatively nontoxic gas, although it is difficult to completely remove it from cannabis extractions. PHO (Propane Hash Oil) is also popular, due to the inexpensive cost of propane and cleaner quality of the gas. But propane is also extremely flammable, and poses significant risk of injury if mishandled.
What is Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) aka Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) or Phoenix Tears?
Rick Simpson, a Canadian medical cannabis patient, promotes a solvent extraction method that produces oil he calls “Phoenix Tears.” Simpson reports that his oil has cured the cancers of many people. There are anecdotal reports that the oil may help for some cancers, but more research needs to be done to confirm and specify the results. Green Valley Wellness only carries Full Extract Cannabis Oil made with grain alcohol, and does not support Rick Simpson’s original recipes that include naptha or other controversial solvents.