The key to understanding the truth about cannabis oil uses is to learn what hemp is compared to marijuana, which are both made up of the Cannabis sativa plant.
- Marijuana is a breed of the Cannabis plant that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrated in the buds, which is the chemical that produces the psychotropic effects that gets people “high.”
- Hemp is also a breed of the Cannabis plant, but is bred without THC-containing plants. It is farmed for its height due to the usefulness of its stalks and is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), which is the “major nonpsychoactive component of Cannabis sativa.”
- Both have a rich history and are praised for their practical utility, particularly their medicinal benefits.
The breeding practices and utilization of the plant actually determine which term we should use. Meaning this: Marijuana
is the correct term to use when describing a Cannabis
plant that is bred for its medicinal or recreational use. It is known for it psychotropic effects due to the high amounts of THC that are extracted from the resinous glands (known as trichomes). Cannabis plants engineered as marijuana (not hemp) contain levels of THC ranging from 3% – 15% while plants grown for industrial hemp contain less than 1%. There 3 primary ways marijuana is cultivated and manufactured:
- Herbal – consisting of the dried flowering tops and leaves.
- Resin – compressed solid made from the resinous parts of the plant
- “Oil” – which is actually a solvent extract of cannabis
, on the other hand, is the proper term to use for Cannabis
strains that have been cultivated for its fiber and/or seeds, which are used to make a wide variety of products. Cannabis grown this way contains trace amounts of THC and CBD, which has been shown to block the effects of THC on the nervous system. It has been suggested that “low THC levels and high CBD levels in hemp plants negate any psychoactive effects.”
Products made from industrial hemp are supposed to contain less than 0.3% THC, which is the legal amount to buy, consume, sell and ship the product. This 0.3% is the standard to distinguish between what is classified as “hemp” and what is classified as “marijuana,” but there has been some concerns that the amount of THC in hemp seeds and other consumables are not consistent. This is why organizations like the Weston A Price Foundation strongly recommend caution when eating hemp seeds.
Cannabis Oil Uses: What It Is & What It Isn't!
First off, so-called “Cannabis
oil” is not an essential oil and the name is misleading. Here's the low-down:
- Hemp oil is readily available online as a food product and praised for its 1:1 omega-3/omega-6 ratio. It is made from hemp.
- CBD oil (also known as (“CBD hemp oil”) contains high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels, which is regarded as medicinal, but not psychotropic. It is also made from hemp.
- Cannabis oil is essentially an extract or absolute and is typically taken orally – ingesting a few drops several times per day. It is made from marijuana.
From what we can tell – although this conclusion is mostly based off of personal reports and not clinical trials – conventional Cannabis oil (being rich in THC) gets people “high,” whereas CBD oil cannot.
Cannabis Oil Uses – Absolutes & Extracts not Essential Oils
So, what is cannabis oil? This is where things get really fuzzy. I'm sure you've seen the term “Cannabis
oil” being thrown around the Internet the last few years. Heralded to cure everything from cancer to glaucoma, activists are using research and countless miracle testimonials to convince legislatures nationwide to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. One of the reasons why we're hearing so much about Cannabis
oil is because of Rick Simpson. In 2003 Rick utilized a homemade Cannabis
concoction as a cure for skin cancer. He shared his success with his doctors and some cancer organizations, but no one paid attention to his story. His reaction is somewhat intriguing as he responded by growing his own plants and produced his own Cannabis
extract, calling it “Cannabis
oil.” Giving it away for free to people in need, he reports healing over 5,000 people with this medicine. The confusion enters the scene here because Rick didn't make Cannabis
oil, he made a Cannabis
extract or an absolute. Big difference!
Technically-speaking, regardless if we're talking about conventional “Cannabis oil” or CBD oil, both are extracts or absolutes, NOT essential oils. So, referring to them as “oils” is misleading. To clarify...essential oils today are manufactured primarily through steam distillation or expression (“cold-pressing”). Another technique is referred to as solvent extraction.
Let me assure you that the difference between essential oils, extracts or absolutes is not merely semantical. Each contain different chemical compositions, which means they all have different effects on the body, and each have different safety concerns
Cannabis Oil Uses – Chemical Composition
In the 2013, the journal Cannabinoids
published a full report on the chemical constituency of 5 different preparations of cannabis extract based off of the following solvents: ethanol, naphtha, petroleum ether, and olive oil. Here are the main takeaways directly from the article: (4
- Most extracts contained only a small proportion of THC (5-10% of total THCA + THC content).
- A notable exception was the naphtha extract, which was found to contain 33% of total THCA + THC content present in the form of THC.
- The major components present in the cannabis material used were the monoterpenes beta-pinene, myrcene, beta- phellandrene, cis-ocimene, terpinolene and terpineol, and the sesquiterpenes beta-caryophyllene, humulene, delta-guaiene, gamma-cadinene, eudesma-3,7(11)-diene and elemene.
- The extraction solvents showed comparable efficiency for extracting terpenes, with the notable exception of naphtha. While this solvent generally extracted terpenes less efficiently than the other solvents, several terpenes could not be detected at all in the naphtha extract.
- The use of olive oil as extraction solvent was found to be most beneficial based on the fact that it extracted higher amounts of terpenes than the other solvents/methods, especially when using an extended heating time.
- Treatment of the ethanolic extract with activated charcoal, intended to remove chlorophyll, resulted in a considerable reduction of cannabinoid content.
- Pure ethanol efficiently extracts chlorophyll from cannabis, which will give the final extract a distinct green colour, and often unpleasant taste. Removing chlorophyll by filtering the ethanol extract over activated charcoal was found to be very effective, but it also removed a large proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes, and is therefore not advised.
As an added note, the study was clear to state that, “All the solvent components should be considered harmful and flammable, and some of them, such as hexane and benzene, may be neurotoxic. Both naphtha and petroleum ether are considered potential cancer hazards according to their respective Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by manufacturers. Moreover, products sold as naphtha may contain added impurities (e.g. to increase stability) which may have harmful properties of their own.”
Cannabis Oil Uses – Using Cannabis Oil As Medicine
In the words of a 2007 article in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neurosciences
, “Despite the mild addiction to cannabis and the possible enhancement of addiction to other substances of abuse, when combined with cannabis, the therapeutic value of cannabinoids is too high to be put aside.” Modern research shows that the compounds in Cannabis
- Reduce pain (analgesia).
- Help reduce side-effects related to chemotherapy in cancer patients (especially pain and vomiting).
- Reduce muscle spasms and neurological overactivity in MS and cerebral palsy patients.
- Help reduce ocular pressure in glaucoma patients.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Relieve symptoms of asthma, constipation, depression, epilepsy and insomnia.
The reason why Cannabis
is such an effective healing agent is because it contains “an enormous variety of chemicals. Some of the 483 compounds identified are unique to Cannabis
, for example, the more than 60 cannabinoids, whereas the terpenes, with about 140 members forming the most abundant class, are widespread in the plant kingdom.”
Regarding cannabinoids, they are “a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain.” Essentially, THC “
potently activates the G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptor CB1 and also modulates the cannabinoid receptor CB2.” Few substances on the planet can do this.
Cannabis Oil Uses – A Note About Cancer
There are several blog posts out there that have gone viral sharing 42 Medical Studies that Prove Cannabis Can Cure Cancer
and other similar topics. One thing is clear: THC and other cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit tumour growth and angiogenesis in animal and human in vitro (cells in a petri dish) studies. However, the antitumoral effect of cannabinoids hasn't been tested on humans to a great extent, and we need to be careful not to jump to any premature conclusions. Otherwise, we'll start see reports that Cannabis
can cure everything but death!
The list is promising and should give researchers and legislatures reason to investigate the effect(s) that Cannabis
can have as a natural cancer solution. Take note though that several studies report non-psychotropic effects when THC was administered to cancer patients. This should be of particular interest to people who are against Cannabis because of its ability to get people “high.”
This article has been edited and originally from a larger, more indepth article written by Dr. Eric Z