How To Use Hemp as Medicine: Hemp Oil Benefits & Uses

Learn How To Feel Better With Hemp Oil

Bush marijuana cannabis on blurred background at sunset.Hemp has been used as a medicine before the concept of medicine was invented. The benefits of hemp oil (i.e. cannabis oil) have been known and documented for millennia. There are hundreds of stories and records about shamans, wise men, medicine women, and all variations of ancient healers using hemp in their work. 

Using hemp to heal is a newer phenomenon to western medicine and the new world than it was in Eurasia and African regions of the world.

It took thousands of years to spread from region to region all over the world. It was only recently, in the mid-1800's, that westerners began to systematically study cannabis for its medicinal properties.

Anecdotes and stories aside, there's nothing like a good clinical trial to pique our interest.

It's hard to understand why we're so far behind in developing hemp for human consumption and healing if you don't understand the checkered history of cannabis. To get a better understanding of why we're just getting started, check out our article on the history of hemp, or the history section of our hemp basics overview. For now, let's just say that the modern world's fear of what they did not understand has continuously stalled progress for cannabis; even the non-psychoactive varieties.

In spite of all the setbacks, there is an encouragingly vast reservoir of credible records and modern experiments that indicate cannabis is for more than getting high and making rope. High-CBD varieties have been especially effective at preventing, treating, and even curing chronic illness. The sources for all of the facts presented here are professionally researched, analyzed, and cited.

This article teaches you how cannabis functions as a medicine. It showcases which conditions hemp oil and other cannabis oils have shown to work for. Lastly, we'll talk about how to reap the medical benefits of hemp oil 

If you would prefer to skip to a specific topic, feel free to use the table of contents below.

Hemp oil behaves nothing like a pharmaceutical. As westerners, we're trained to think that an isolated and concentrated compound will be the most effected for addressing a specific problem. While that may be how we view pharmaceuticals, it would be unfortunate for us impose this view on cannabis-based medicines.

As a matter of fact, pharmaceuticals, though created to drive a specific response, usually comes with a host of side effects proving how interconnected the systems in our body are. This interconnectedness is not a bug in our biology. It's a beautiful and valuable feature that cannabis exploits for our benefit. 

Let's talk about how. 

IMPORTANT!

A Note on Terminology at The Universal Plant

For the sake of simplicity (and sanity), The Universal Plant will refer to the nonpsychoactive varieties of cannabis as hemp, and the psychoactive varieties as marijuana. While technically incorrect, the scientific nomenclature is too confusing for our purposes.

Fresh green marijuana leaf isolated on white background

The Endocannabinoid System

Every complex creature on earth, from fish to elephants, has an endocannabinoid system. This system known to play a role almost every process in the body including:

  • Memory
  • Digestion
  • Motor Function
  • Immune Response
  • Inflammation
  • Appetite
  • Pain
  • Blood Pressure
  • Bone Growth
  • Protection of Neural Tissue
  • Pleasure Moderation
  • Energy Modulation
  • Tissue Proliferation
  • Fertility
  • Many Others

Looking at the above list makes it easy to see why cannabis is so effective at treating so many different illnesses. 

The endocannabinoid system is made up of three components. 

  1. Cannabinoid Receptors - Found in most places in the body (currently there are only two, CB1 & CB2)
  2. Cannabinoids - Molecules synthesized by enzymes or introduced by consumption of plant material or synthetic cannabinoid molecules (phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids)
  3. Enzymes (DAGL- alpha, DAGL-beta, NAPE, MAGL, and FAAH)

Technically speaking, phytocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids are external components of the system since they are not synthesized by the body. Regardless, they have an effect on the system when introduced into the bloodstream. More on cannabinoids later. Now let's talk about how consuming cannabis in the form of hemp oil extract makes you feel better.

How You Experience the Benefits of Hemp Oil

When you consume cannabis in any form, the cannabinoids and terpenoids in that cannabis interact directly or indirectly with the CB receptors all over your body. Some compounds activate CB1, some only activate CB2, and others can interact with both receptors. 

In addition to stimulating CB receptors, the endocannabinoid system also interacts with other systems in your body to regulate diseases in the body. These systems include the endorphin system, the immune system, and the vanilloid system (responsible for transforming pain from acute to chronic). That means that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for interacting with all of the system's related molecules, tissues, and processes.

The leading idea is that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining balance, homeostasis, and normal levels of anabolic (building activities) and catabolic (breaking down) behavior in the body. This is how the benefits of hemp oil/cannabis oil reveal themselves to us - by taking us back to normal.

It makes logical sense that in order for the endocannabinoid system to essentially be the minister of your body's health, it would need either direct or indirect access to as many bodily functions as possible. It also follows that since it is responsible for maintaining balance in your body when activated it is able to mitigate illness, disease, and injury.

This is why cannabis, and hemp oil, are so effective: it has the ability to interact with almost every system in the human body and bring it back to balance without overcompensating.

Cannabinoids

Mentioned in the previous section, cannabinoids are those molecules that signal to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our body. We're still doing research to figure out the exact composition of all the molecules in cannabis. It's only recently that we've been able to isolate compounds in the plant for experiments. Learnings will continue to reveal themselves as time goes on. Until then, here's what we know for sure:

  1. There are two known endocannabinoids created by your endocannabinoid system from enzymes that occur naturally and locally all over your body. 
  2. There are dozens of cannabinoids in cannabis, and several of them have been shown to have certain specific therapeutic capabilities.
  3. Cannabinoids function in a lock and key fashion. Some cannabinoids enable the "unlocking" of CB receptors, and some enable the "locking" or "blocking" of the CB receptors. This can happen directly or indirectly.
A graphical depiction of the lock and key mechanism between cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2

Now let's take a look at the different cannabinoids in the body and in cannabis.

Endocannabinoids

There are two cannabinoids we've identified that are synthesized by the human body. I say 'synthesize,' because your body doesn't have its cannabinoids floating around, ready for action when needed. That's not how endocannabinoids work. 

Endocannabinoids are synthesized on demand whenever they are needed by the body. Once they do their job, they're broken down by other enzymes and whisked away. 

These are the skeletal structures of the two endocannabinoids discovered in the 1980's. They are the metaphorical 'keys' that unlock the CB1 and CB2 receptors on the surfaces of your cells.

Skeletal structure of the endocannabinoid anandamide
Anandamide
Skeletal structure of the endocannabinoid 2-AG
2-AG
Phytocannabinoids

Cannabinoids that are found in plant products are called phytocannabinoids. Initially we thought they were only in cannabis, but we soon discovered that phytocannabinoids exist in a range of green plants. There are four major classes of cannabinoids we've studied more thoroughly than the others over the last ten years. 

Unlike endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids are always available once in your blood stream. As long as they are in your system, they'll continue to affect your symbiosis. That's why the benefits of hemp oil are so immediate and lasting. Your body is flooded with phytocannabinoids that immediately get to work bringing your body back to center.

There are about a dozen phytocannabinoids scientists have identified and isolated. They have also tried to identify the role each molecule plays in healing the body.  Perhaps one day we will have CBG or CBC dominant hemp and marijuana oils, but for now, all of the studies are preliminary and scarce. The data on THC and CBD dominant cannabis extracts used as medicine is extensive.

Chemical structure of cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
The chemical structure of the cannabinoid, cannabidiol, CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD)
The chemical structure of the cannabinoid cannabichromene CBC
Cannabichromene (CBC)
The skeletal chemical structure of cannabigerol (CBG), a cannabinoid in cannabis.
Cannabigerol (CBG)

These are the skeletal chemical structures of the major cannabinoids that exist in cannabis in their neutral form:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)

They have another 'acidic' form, but we'll go over that later.

Phytocannabinoids have this same structure whether they are found in the marijuana plant, or in the hemp plant. The reason industrial hemp is used so often to extract CBD is because CBD is found in much higher concentrations in hemp compared to marijuana. Marijuana is THC-dominant.

The Phytocannabinoid Profile

Cannabis infused gummies with the cannabinoid profile on the labelEvery cannabis plant has its own cannabinoid profile. In other words, they all have different concentrations of each of the cannabinoids. No matter the concentration distribution, CBD is always the most prevalent cannabinoid by far.

Sometimes you can find these details on a product label, but usually only CBD and THC content get any space on the label. And usually if there's THC content, there's barely any CBD content, and vice versa. When you do come across a strain that's equal proportions CBD and TBD, it'll cost you an arm and a leg. Maybe even two arms. 

Not every cannabinoid is present in the plant in the same concentrations at all times. Some cannabinoids are more present in certain times in the plant's life cycle.

In addition to the age of the plant, cannabinoid presence depends on where in the consumption process you take your measurement. Raw cannabis flower contains higher concentrations of the acidic versions (CBDA, THCA, etc.) of the major cannabinoids than their neutral form (CBD, THC, etc.).

This is why you don't become intoxicated if you eat a raw marijuana plant. While THCA may have some therapeutic properties, it's not psychoactive. When cannabis flower is heated to a high enough temperature, THCA and CBDA are converted to THC and CBD. 

The chemical structure of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
THCA
The phytocannabinoid CBDA in skeletal molecular form
CBDA
The cannabinoid CBCA - CBC before decarboxylation
CBCA
The cannabinoid CBGA chemical structure skeletal form
CBGA

Although the medicinal uses of these acidic counterparts have yet to be determined with as much confidence as the neutral cannabinoids, early research is promising. There are strong signs that these cannabinoids could be significantly beneficial in helping treat human illness.

Terpenes/Terpenoids

It used to be thought that terpenoids were primarily responsible for smell and taste of individual strains. Both the smell of fresh-cut flowers and fresh cannabis buds are due to the presence of terpenoids. Now we believe that terpenoids have therapeutic value in their own right. Evidence has surfaced indicating that terpenes may essentially another form of cannabinoid.

So, it turns out the benefits of hemp oil, or any cannabis oil, are dependent, not only on the cannabinoid profile, but also on the terpenoid profile. 

The chemical structure of the terpenoid myrcene.
Myrcene
Terpinolene
Terpinolene
The beta-caryophyllen terpenoid in the cannabis plant
Beta-Caryophyllen
Alpha-pinene
Alpha-pinene
The chemical structure of the terpenoid linalool in the cannabis plant.
Linalool
The terpenoid limonene in the cannabis plant
Limonene
The beta-ocimene terpenoid in the cannabis plant
Beta-Ocimene

Behold, seven of the main terpenes isolated by scientists and found to have medicinal value.

It's interesting to note that none of these terpenes are isolated to the cannabis plant. Alpha-pinene is found in pine, Limonene in lemons, Myrcene in hops, and Linalool in lavender. Beta-caryophyllene, a strong anti-inflammatory, is found in black pepper and functions as a cannabinoid acting upon CB2 receptors directly. Not even CBD does that.

These molecules may be the answer to why different strains of cannabis with essentially the same cannabinoid profile have the ability to produce wildly different therapeutic effects in patients.

Terpenes are of increasing interest to scientist, doctors and connoisseurs alike.

Experts who study the plant are realizing the role terpenes have to play in assisting other cannabinoids in healing the body.

Connoisseurs are more and more interested in consuming forms of extracted cannabis that preserve terpenes because of their taste and smell.

Terpenes are now isolated and extracted without their cannabinoid friends. Among other things, these extractions are used to infuse other cannabis products that have lost their terpene profile during processing.

We expect terpenes to play a large role in the future of medicinal cannabis. Soon enough, the days of isolating one cannabinoid or terpene will be gone. While one molecule may show more promise at addressing a condition than another molecule, better results are achieved time and time again when all of the compounds in cannabis are present. This phenomenon is well-known to doctors who recommend cannabis to patients. It's this tendency for whole-plant medicine to be more effective we will talk about next.   

The Entourage Effect

Researchers have attempted to identify the therapeutic value of each cannabinoid individually. While this is irresistible to our FDA-driven chemical pharmaceutical culture, it's almost definitely not accurate to say one cannabinoid is responsible for a mechanism on its own. Most medical professionals who are educated on medicinal cannabis believe that cannabinoids work best when they work together. This is called the entourage effect.  

The benefits of hemp oil and other cannabis oil is mainly due to the entourage effect. This is an infographic explaining the entourage effect in the human body after cannabis consumption

Scientists who have studied the medical effects of cannabis hemp and marijuana have consistently seen better results when cannabinoids are not isolated. The famous THC substitute developed by the government in the 80's was pure THC. While it did work most of the time, the experience was incredibly unpleasant. Without the other cannabinoids, and especially CBD, present to mitigate THC's psychoactivity, people suffered from panic attacks, intense intoxication, and other unintended side effects. 

The same observation has been made for cannabis products that are infused with CBD isolate. CBD works better when with the rest of its cannabinoid friends. That's why we always recommend full spectrum extract products over isolate. And that brings us to how cannabinoids get from the plant and into your medicine.

From Plant To Medicine

So how do we get these magical molecules out of the plant? How can we feel the benefits of hemp without having to smoke it? 

smart health labs hemp extractThis is where hemp extract products come into play. The cannabinoids are extracted in concentrated form from the plant. The extract is then consumed raw or used to infuse all kinds of consumables. From CBD rich hemp oils to gummies, all cannabis products are made by using one extraction technique or another. 

For more about the array of cannabinoid-rich products to choose from see our post on cannabis extract products. There, you'll also learn about the different extraction methods.

All extracts are obtained in the same manner. Whether handling CBD dominant hemp or THC dominant marijuana, the process is the same. All products made from cannabis are created in the same manner. The only thing that changes is the cannabinoid/terpenoid profile of the resulting infusion.

We focus a lot on the industrial hemp plant on this website because it has high concentrations of CBD. CBD is the most therapeutic cannabinoid, even in isolation. That doesn't mean that THC doesn't have value as medicine. It clearly does. But many people don't like the high that comes with the healing power of THC. Consuming CBD-rich cannabis (hemp) is the better alternative for most people seeking solely to address an ailment and not interested in the psychoactive effects. 

The Benefits of Hemp Oil & Other Cannabis Products: A-Z Conditions

No one here on The Universal Plant is a doctor, so we aren't giving medical advice. All we are going to do here is present information backed up by research done by people with degrees and credentials. We don't peddle in pseudoscience or hawk magical panaceas. If you're reading it here it has actual evidence to back it up. 

In this section we're simply going to give an overview of what the science shows about each condition. For more information about product options, see this article about CBD dominant cannabis products.

Mental Health Issues

Cannabis has been shown to be effective for an array of psychological pathology categorized classically under 'mental health' conditions. Even before mainstream psychology took hold of the west and defined dozens of disorders requiring monthly trips to the pharmacy, cannabis infusions of all kinds were recommended to adults who displayed signs of psychological distress.

Modern science has been able to definitively identify several common disorders that respond positively to treatment with cannabis.

CBD for depression feature photo - X-ray blue man showing brain and brain stem with head in handsWhile there's less clinical data to support using cannabis to treat depression, there isignificant observational and anecdotal data that indicates cannabis can be very effective at treating depressive disorders, regardless of the cause. Additionally, the trials that have been conducted have shown promising results.

We believe cannabis functions just like any other anti-depressant: by increasing serotonergic and noradrenergic signaling, dampening the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and increasing neurogenesis and cellular resilience in the hippocampus.

For more information about how to use the benefits of hemp oil to treat depression, check out our in-depth post about CBD & depression.

Bipolar Disorder

The review of the literature about cannabis and bipolar disorder basically concludes that more research needs to be done. It's been seen to help the depression that comes with BPD, but not the disease itself. 

In fact, patients who consumed cannabis developed full blown BPD earlier and had more severe and frequent episodes. 

If you would like to try to address BPD with cannabis, the recommendation is to not use cannabis with high THC. Find medical-grade cannabis with a high CBD content, or at least a 1:1 ration of CBD to THC (Cannabis Pharmacy).

Autism Spectrum Disorders

In 2015, an Italian researcher published a comprehensive paper on the role of the endocannabinoid system in autism. This work has laid the foundation for more experiments and research into autism and cannabis.

The preliminary research shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in autism. Many more clinical trials are needed before any claims can be made with any confidence.

CBD for anxietyAnxiety is second only to pain among the primary reasons for which patients use medical cannabis. Because cannabis is biphasic, it can induce relaxation, or increase anxiety, depending on the severity of the anxiety, the individual's body and mindset, and, especially, the size of the dose.

With this in mind, almost any kind of cannabis can be effective at relieve anxiety if dosed properly. CBD dominant varieties seem to be especially effective at combatting social anxiety, phobias, and panic disorders.

More about the role of cannabinoids in providing anxiety relief can be found in our in-depth article about CBD & anxiety.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Low doses of THC and CBD can provide significant relief for most social anxiety disorders. In a 2001 Brazilian double-blind, random-controlled human study found CBD to, "significantly reduce anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in speech performance, and significantly decreased alertness in anticipatory speech. The placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group. Significant increases in anxiety measures within the placebo group were nearly eliminated in the CBD group."

PTSD

American soldiers famously smoked Southeast Asian cannabis to deal with the continuous horrors of war. When the war ended, or when soldiers came home, they continued to self-medicate with cannabis. Many soldiers even brought cannabis back with them from the war. 

Recent preclinical research underscores a connection between the endocannabinoid system and how the brain processes traumatic memories, showing significant potential for cannabinoid-based treatment therapies for PTSD. Additionally, many states with medical marijuana laws have added PTSD to their list of approved conditions. 

ADHD

Treating ADHD with cannabis is controversial. Cannabis abuse has been linked to ADHD, and possible adverse effects of THC on the growing mind are not zero. Regardless, recent academic papers indicate that more formal clinical studies on cannabis's effects on ADHD are warranted. 

Anecdotally, cannabis seems to be pretty effective at treating ADHD. While not as effective as some prescription medications, cannabis surely is safer. ADHD patients have also said that using cannabis while on these prescription drugs reduce the fatigue and jitters caused by prescription stimulants. The use of cannabis to supplement prescriptions have not been sanctioned by licensed physicians. 

Nervous System Disorders

Cannabis's neuroprotective properties seem to play a key role in mitigating the effects of neurological diseases, or diseases with a neurological component. 

Alzheimer's Disease

A retrospective study of 40 patients with Alzheimer's disease who also exhibited behavioral disturbances showed that the addition of THC to their drug regimens significantly improved food intake and decreased agitation, sleep duration, and overall symptom severity.

For now, cannabis has only been shown to treat certain symptoms that come with Alzheimer's disease such as sleep problems, paranoia, anxiety, dysphoria, pain, poor appetite, behavior disturbances and weight lossThe actual mechanisms that cause Alzheimer's may be able to be targeted using the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects in cannabis.

Parkinson's Disease

Along with other neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson's disease seems like a promising target for cannabinoid therapy. Since there are limited treatment options for this disease, regulators are more tolerant of individuals using cannabis to treat it. While the effectiveness of this treatment remains inconclusive, the current evidence from research studies is promising. 

CBD for seizures featured imageOne of the conditions that made modern cannabis as a medicine famous is epilepsy. Drug-resistant epilepsy in children has driven parents into the arms of cannabis, or more precisely, CBD.  

Because of this, researchers have known for a long time that the cannabinoids THC and CBD can prevent seizures. Studies show that CBD reliably delivers a range of anticonvulsant effects with few known adverse side effects. For more about using CBD to treat seizure disorders, visit our CBD & Seizures topic page. 

Huntington's Disease

According to Cannabis Pharmacy, "In cell studies, cannabinoids modulate the toxic effects of the Huntington protein, leading to optimism that cannabinoid therapies may someday mitigate symptoms or possibly influence the course of this devastating illness." 

Restless Leg Syndrome

While there are no official studies that address the mechanisms of RLS, observational evidence exists to show improvements when patients consume CBD.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

CB receptors in our gastrointestinal system are profuse. In fact, the endocannabinoid system is almost entirely responsible for regulating gut function. Cannabinoids dock on these receptors to provide relief for all kinds of stomach problems. Everything from vomiting, nausea, cramping, pain, and inflammation in the gut can be addressed using cannabinoids. Promising results have been shown when treating patients with IBS or Crohn's disease.

Cachexia and Appetite Loss

The munchies are a side effect of THC dominant cannabis use readily identified by even nonusers. The body's endocannabinoid system regulates appetite.

Several studies have been done showing increased levels of weight-maintenance for patients who use cannabis compared to patients who don't. 

Nausea & Vomiting

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years to stimulate appetite and prevent weight loss. It has immediate results in reducing nausea and vomiting of all kinds. 

Using CBD for inflammation topic featutThe role of cannabis is mitigating pain and inflammation has been known for at least 100 years. In fact, pain is the most common reason physicians recommend cannabis and for which patients report using it. Regardless of the mechanism and source of the pain, cannabis seems universally effective for mild to moderate discomfort. 

For more about using CBD for pain or inflammation check out the CBD & pain and CBD & Inflammation topic pages.

CBD for neuropathy featured imageConventional treatments for neuropathic pain are notoriously finicky. Many patients don't benefit from these pharmaceuticals, and they come with problematic adverse side effects. A recent review of human studies indicate that short-term and intermediate-term use of cannabis might be the better alternative for these patients.

For more information about CBD and other cannabinoids & neuropathy, check the CBD & neuropathy topic page.

Arthritis

Apart from women's health issues, arthritis may be one of the earliest conditions cannabis was deployed against as a treatment. Studies show that THC can reduce arthritis pain, and THC and CBD reduce cytokine release from inflammatory cells believed to be responsible for tissue deterioration in arthritis (Cannabis pharmacy).

Migraine and Headache

Cannabis is effective as a prophylaxis for reducing the frequency of migraine in many patients. In one case, a 19-year-old male who didn't respond to cluster headache medications was prescribed Marinol, a 5mg dose of synthetic THC. When Marinol was taken at the beginning of the headache, it consistently provided complete and rapid relief within 5 to 15 minutes. 

Fibromyalgia

Cannabinoids have been shown to be an often-successful alternative treatment for the pain caused by fibromyalgia. This success definitely varies patient to patient, but cannabis definitely provides at least some symptom relief, especially for the pain and sleep loss. Additionally, the mental health of patients who consume cannabis is significantly higher than nonusers. 

Skin Issues

The endocannabinoid system is found in each cell type produced by the skin. They regulate skill cells, including hair follicles, sebocytes, sweat glands, melanocytes, keratinocytes, and macrophages.

Topical CBD has been shown to be helpful for a variety of skin conditions. Evidence for the treatment of dermatitis, eczema, acne, excessive hair grown, and certain precancerous lesions with cannabis shows great promise. 

Acne

CBD has shown promise as a non-irritating acne treatment for adults. Acne is caused by irregular sebocyte behavior in the sebaceous glands. When sebocytes are dysfunctional, they proliferate and die, clogging the sebaceous glands, leaving pores unguarded against invading bacteria. Research has shown that CBD may modulate sebocyte function.

Even though the research looks promising, there are no products on the market today strong enough to be effective as an anti-acne cure. 

Incurable Illnesses

While cannabis has not been shown to cure or prevent the following illnesses, it has been shown to reduce the impact of side effects brought on by these illnesses and diseases. 

HIV/AIDS

In the 1980's cannabis was used en masse to treat the many symptoms of HIV/Aids. The increasing occurrence of HIV in the population led to an increase in cannabis consumption in these communities. In fact, the first 'dispensary' was called the cannabis buyers' club and was started largely due to the Aids epidemic sweeping through the gay community. Dennis Peron, the founder of this San Francisco novelty, was a courageous pioneer, spitting in the face of nonsensical laws against cannabis in order to serve his community. 

Beyond historical uses, several studies have been done to show the usefulness of cannabinoids in treating common HIV symptoms. 

Multiple Sclerosis

MS comes with many debilitating side effects. Cannabis has been shown as an effective treatment for many of these side effects. The side effect that's most supported by evidence-based research for treatment with cannabis is spasticity.

Since endocannabinoids regulate neurotransmission, cannabis-based medicines mimic the endocannabinoids and regulate the dysfunctional neurotransmission that underlies spasticity (Cannabis Pharmacy).

Cancer

Not only have cannabinoids been shown to have anti-tumor properties, cannabis is also effective at treating many of the symptoms caused by cancer, or caused by cancer treatments. It should also be noted that some cannabinoids may increase tumor growth in certain cancers.

Even with that in mind, there's no doubt that cannabis is successful at treating the major symptoms of cancer including pain, vomiting, eight maintenance, and sleep.

ALS

People with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, have indicated that cannabis is moderately effective in reducing ALS symptoms including appetite loss, depression, pain, spasticity, and drooling.

There are currently no studies that indicate cannabinoids can reverse ALS, or provide neuroprotective effects in those with the syndrome.

We're not sure what the mechanisms of ALS at the motor-neuron level looks like. However, because endocannabinoid system dysfunction has been involved with disease mechanisms in other neurodegenerative disorders, cannabis has a good possibility of being a potential treatment for ALS. 

Women's Health

One of the earliest recorded benefits of hemp oil and other cannabis oils, are issues related to women's reproductivity. The pain caused by menstruation has been shown to be reduced by cannabinoids, and cannabis has been used for decades to improve milk output from the mother. 

Pregnancy & Lactation

Historically, our ancestors used cannabis for nausea during pregnancy as well as to help the mother produce more milk during lactation. 

The warnings from officials about using cannabis during pregnancy is dire, there's no doubt about that. However, the evidence supporting their claims of cannabis interfering with fetal brain development is not at all definitive. There may be instances where the risk is greater than normal. There also many be instances where cannabis is safer to consume than other pharmaceutical options to deal with discomforts during pregnancy.

While we can't support the use of cannabis during pregnancy due to legal reasons, we can say that observational evidence indicates that moderate consumption of cannabis during pregnancy does not increase the risk of fetal abnormalities. More studies will need to be done to see how cannabis use during pregnancy effects children at different stages of development. 

Menopause

Because the endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating much of the neurological and endocrine system issues that come with menopause, optimism exists for future research that will help identify how to best use cannabis for menopause. Currently, there are basically no studies on how cannabis can help relieve menopausal symptoms. 

Other Chronic Conditions

Asthma

Anecdotes from decades ago marvel at the ability for inhaled cannabis to stop an asthma attack almost immediately. Inhaled cannabis (and sometimes oral THC) can work as a bronchodilator to release bronchospasm associated with asthma. 

Observational data aside, cannabis has shown contradictory evidence for being effective for treating inflammation caused by asthma. The best hypothesis at this point is that THC is effective as a bronchodilator at very small doses, so as to not irritate the lunch tissue.

Autoimmune Disorders

Cannabinoids have long been shown to have immunosuppressive properties. The body's immune cells express both CB receptors and, therefore, can be targeted with cannabinoids. THC is recommended to treat autoimmune disorders, but you're likely to get high due to the large dose needed. 

Diabetes

Diabetes is nothing short of a modern plague. Billions of dollars are spent each year combatting diabetes in America alone. Some studies have shown that cannabis users have significantly healthier levels of insulin, and well as less insulin resistance than nonusers. This would translate into fewer instances of diabetes. 

Even armed with this evidence, we can't say if medical cannabis will be effective in addressing underlying causes or prediabetes and diabetes. Rest assured however that research is underway. 

Osteoporosis

This condition isn't currently treated with cannabis, but research linking the endocannabinoid system to skeletal regulation might lead to medicines that help support healthy bones. This will be especially important for women as they get older, or younger women on consistent birth control. 

Drug Addiction

A small, but credible, body of research indicates that cannabinoids are useful in treating aspects of opioid dependency. This usefulness may also translate to tobacco and stimulant abuse. CBD is the most promising cannabinoid to combat addition as it has no potential for abuse or dependency. 

The endocannabinoid system regulates your response to reward and stress. It's now known that CBD interferes with the brain's mechanisms of addiction. In addition to directly treating addiction, cannabinoids can also be used to treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Of course, the symptoms that required a prescription opioid in the first place can be treated with cannabinoids, reducing the likelihood of dependency and opioid overdoses.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the first conditions that obtained official approval from national institutes for the medical use of cannabis. In the 1970's a man was arrested for growing pot plants in his back yard. Instead of pleading guilty, he sued for the right to use cannabis to prevent him from going blind. He cited cannabis as the reason he had not lost is sight yet, and reasoned that anyone would break the law to prevent from going blind. The courts agreed with him, and the government was forced to send him legal weed every month. 

Insomnia

CBD for sleep featured imageCannabis has been shown to successfully treat a range of sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep disruption, and sleep apnea. Endocannabinoid signaling was recently found to modulate sleep. It's also effective in combatting ailments that interfere with sleep such as pain and rheumatism.

In order to see any results from cannabis for sleep, special attention should be paid to the dose and method of delivery. More information about CBD oil, cannabis oil, hemp oil, and sleep can be found here at our CBD & Sleep topic page. 

Other Uses

Sexual Dysfunction

Since the 1970's cannabis has been reported to increase sexual responses in low doses. It can be used to have the opposite effect with higher doses.

Not only is the plant reported to increase libido in both men and women, but their sexual experiences were also heightened.

Sport's Medicine

Athletes around the world have been using cannabis for pain and also for recovery. Recently, the NFL has said there may be a time when medical marijuana is available to players, not only for neurological damages, but also as a healthier alternative to opioids and supplements. 

Dosing & Titration

Everyone experiences cannabis differently. There are multiple reasons for this:

  1. Cannabis (and therefore hemp) is biphasic. This means that the effects of cannabis will be different depending on the dose. You don't simply get more of the initial low dose effect when you consume higher doses. You get an altogether different effect. 
  2. Cannabis is bimodal
  3. Cannabinoids interact with multiple systems in the body. Everyone's body is somewhat unique and, therefore, these interactions are not uniform.
  4. Each strain of cannabis can have a different cannabinoid profile. 
  5. Each strain of cannabis has a different terpenoid profile.
  6. There are hundreds of, largely unknown, molecules in cannabis that may or may not be active.

On top of these five variables, what you're using cannabis for also matters. The more out of whack your system, the less likely you are to get intoxicated. That's been observed for decades. So, adding to the variability are:

  1. The condition you're treating
  2. The severity of the condition

The same reasons that make cannabis an effective medicine also make individual experiences unique and varied. While this may be therapeutically beneficial, it makes dosing extremely difficult. Without experience, it's almost impossible to know how much to take.  

It boils down to you having to figure out what works for best on you. You do this by starting off small, and increasing your dose in small increments while paying close attention to the effects. 

Starting off slowly is not some arbitrary safety rule. The most effective dose is always the smallest dose to get the job done. This is because cannabis, and therefore hemp oil, is biphasic. The higher the dose, the more likely the effects will be very different, if not opposite to what you're trying to achieve. 

Deciding To Give The Benefits of Hemp Oil A Chance

What are the risks?

There are no recorded instances of anyone dying from using cannabis; whether it's THC dominant or CBD dominant. 

That said, the risks aren't zero. For one, you have to spend money. Good cannabis extracts don't come cheap. Good CBD oil can be hard to come by since it can't be sold in dispensaries, but larger retailers are usually hesitant to stock a federally illegal product. You'll occasionally find some at a convenient store, or a vitamin store, but you'll probably have to get your supply online. 

Also, if you opt for THC-dominant medicine, you run the risk of overdoing it and having an anxiety attack or a bad experience. This can be prevented almost every time with careful dosing, but it's a risk nonetheless. 

You'll also have to think about your specific situation in society. You may or may not have family support, and that can make a difference. You may live in a community where medical cannabis, even CBD-rich hemp oil, is frowned upon. 

If you work at a place that drug tests, you'll have to be careful consuming even hemp oil. While it's less than 0.3% THC, it's metabolites can show up in trace amounts on drug tests. If that matters to you, the only way to be safe is to consume CBD isolate, and we've already established that cannabis does best when cannabinoids can work together. Even so, CBD isolate can be very effective depending on your goals. 

Choosing between THC & CBD Dominant Medicine

THC-dominant cannabis tincture label indicating strain, cannabinoid concentration, and volume.Much of the time, CBD dominant strains of cannabis will be more than enough to alleviate issues related to the conditions mentioned above. Sometimes, other cannabinoids may be needed in order to feel the full effect. 

If you're wary about consuming THC in amounts that may intoxicate you, there are ways to minimize THC's effects on you. One option is to consider microdosing in small amounts that do not intoxicate you, and slowly ramp up as your tolerance increases and you feel the full effects of the medicine. A second option is to consume strains that have a 1:1 ration of THC to CBD. CBD helps mitigate the intoxicating effects of THC. That way you'll get the benefits of THC and CBD without the high.

In the end, your choice comes down to how sensitive you are (both socially and physically) to THC and whether your condition responds well to just CBD. Millions of people feel the benefits of hemp oil every day, without the need for THC. It's up to you and whatever medical professional you consult when making decisions about your health. 

Other Considerations

As a consumer, you won't face any legal repercussions, so that's not a concern. If you order products from a foreign country, they will occasionally end up stuck in customs. So that's a possible concern. 

Fun Fact

Is marijuana supposed to be THC-dominant?

The popular theory is that underground breeding and prohibition encouraged the formation of a THC-only variation of the hemp plant. THC and CBD may have existed in equal amounts before the west started selectively breeding them to get as high a THC content as possible. CBD was widely thought to be an inactive compound.

hemp extract overflowing a dabbing tool on white background

The Future of Hemp in Medicine

The history of research into cannabis for medicinal value paints a bleak picture.

Time after time, the countries of the North American continent would use tax-payer funds to report on the evils of cannabis. Every time the reports came back with some variation of "you're over reacting, this shouldn't be illegal, the medicinal benefits of hemp oil and cannabis as a whole are established and should be investigated further." The governments who funded these reports would proceed to demonize the researchers and deny the evidence.

Cannabis heals. Marijuana has saved countless lives over it's documented history of uses. High-CBD strains of cannabis (i.e. hemp) have changed thousands more lives while sparing patients the intoxicating effects of THC.  

The momentum of progress made on the legalization front feels like it's reached a critical turning point, but that may not be so. Bad ideas die hard. A quick look at the history books shows the lengths anti-marijuana advocates will go to maintain an outdated worldview. It looks like we're continuing ahead at full speed, but we should also be wary. The drug war is not over yet. 

Conclusion & Next Steps

It boils down to this: cannabis can be used as a medicine in every part of your body the endocannabinoid system operates. The evidence shows that the endocannabinoid's presence in the body is nearly ubiquitous, and in all cases plays a role in maintaining normal balance in your body. We're still a little iffy on the specifics of it all, but this we do know.

We also know that cannabis is safe for all adults to use for whatever ails them. It's not a panacea for all individuals, and you'll definitely have to experiment to get the experience you're looking for. Even with those caveats, we here at the Universal Plant think it's worth a try. If you're ready to take a look at some products, go ahead and visit the products page. 

Or, you can learn even more about all of the topics we just went over below.

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P.S.

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References

Learn More About The Benefits & Uses of Hemp Oil

The world of hemp is massive. We know how hard it is to do research on your own, so we've split it up for you to make it easier for you to find what you're looking for. Just click on the topic you want to learn more about.

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Hemp Education

If you're looking for information about what hemp is, where it came from, whether or not it's legal, or anything else you can think of related to hemp, this is the place for you. You'll find answers to questions like:

  • What's a terpenoid, and do I need them?
  • Why has it taken us so long to use hemp for medicinal purposes?
  • What's the history of hemp?
  • What's CBD?
  • And Much more!

Hemp/CBD Product Information

If your overwhelmed by the plethora of hemp products on the market? One of the most frequent questions we get here at The Universal Plant is, "how do I know which hemp/CBD brand to go with," followed closely by "how do I use this stuff." With The Universal Plant as a resource, you'll never have to worry about finding reliable answers to those questions ever again. Explore this category to see information such as:

  • An overview of hemp/CBD extract products on the market
  • Which hemp/CBD extract product is right for you
  • Choosing a reputable brand you can feel confident in
  • Any topic related to hemp/CBD products

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