Cannabis is a flowering plant with many utilitarian purposes: cannabis seeds can be used for food; its stalks can be used for paper, clothing, rope and building materials; and its leaves, flowers and roots can be used for medicinal purposes.
The female plants can grow the flowers, or buds, that are utilized most often for human consumption. The cola refers to the plant’s “bud site” where tight female flowers bloom. Colas form at all budding sites throughout the plant, but the larger, firmer colas tend to form toward the top of the plant with the main cola, sometimes called the apical bud, forming at the very top of the plant.
On the flowers, or buds, you will notice what look like little translucent or white looking crystals. These are called trichomes. Originally developed to protect the plant against predators and the elements, these very small clear mushroom-shaped glands ooze very fragrant oils called Terpenes as well as the therapeutic cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
Documents dating as far back as 2900 B.C. tell us cannabis has lived alongside humans for thousands of years and has been cultivated for medicinal purposes for just as long. Cannabis’ impact on the human body can be credited, in large part, to what are called Cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds secreted by the plant’s trichomes that offer a wide array of therapeutic benefits. The two most well known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Cannabinoids bind to receptor sites in the brain and body – this system of receptors is referred to as the Endocannabinoid System.
The science behind cannabinoids as medicine is strong; so much so that certain cannabinoids have actually been synthesized (artificially made) and received FDA approval for treatment of illnesses like MS (Sativex, Marinol and others). The two cannabinoids mentioned, THC and CBD, have been shown to help patients suffering from pain, nausea, sleep and stress disorders, as well as stress relief, anxiety, inflammation and epilepsy. Cannabis contains at least 85 different cannabinoids and more research becomes available every day detailing how cannabinoids can be used to treat a wide range of ailments. However, recent studies have also shown a possible connection between early cannabis use and a negative impact on brain development. Without question, additional research into cannabis’ impact on the human body is needed and appropriate.
One of the best things to understand about cannabis as a modern medicine is that you no longer have to smoke cannabis or ingest a food/liquid that contains an unknown or random amount of active ingredient. Like traditional modern medicine, cannabis can be precisely dosed. Recent advancements in processing techniques have lead to the ability to produce pills, gelcaps, tablets and the like created that contain exact amounts of active ingredient; i.e. 5 mg of THC and 10 mg of CBD — this is a significant advancement in the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
A strain is a genetic variant of cannabis. Most cannabis strains can be classified as either Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica – two variations of the same basic species of cannabis. These two classes of strains tend to have very different effects on the consumer as further detailed below. Today we regularly see the influence of hybrid genetics that combine both indica and sativa varieties.
Over the years, countless numbers of hybrid strains have been created through genetic cross-breeding programs to develop plant profiles that are meant to take the best attributes of both parent strains – you’ll only need to go to your registered dispensary to see the assortment of strains that have been created over the past decades with a variety of cannabinoid profiles.