Overview of Medicinal Cannabis

The cannabis plant has provided humankind with food, fibre, and medicine for over 12,000 years.

  • Cannabis is a flowering plant with evidence suggesting it has been used for medicinal purposes for millennia in cultures throughout the world.
  • Cannabis contains over 500 natural compounds, including 104 identified cannabinoids, which include the widely publicised Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
  • These cannabinoids affect the patient by interacting with specific receptors that form part of the body’s Endocannabinoid System
  • Different cannabinoid receptors have been identified in the human body to date, such as CB1 and CB2.
  • These receptors are located predominantly within different parts of the central nervous system and the immune system, among others.
  • The interaction of the plant derived cannabinoids with these receptors mimics the naturally occurring Endocannabinoids produced in the bodies of humans & animals.
  • The cannabinoids are able to bind or affect the binding of other compounds in the body, with these specific receptors, with different cannabinoids having different physiological effects depending on which receptors they interact with. For example, THC binds to receptors in the brain whereas CBD interacts with other receptors located throughout the body.
  • Different types of medical effects can be achieved through using differing quantities of cannabinoids (e.g. THC vs CBD) in the cannabinoid medicines.
  • Medicinal cannabis can be delivered orally, topically via skin creams and transdermal patches, ingested or vaporised for respiratory delivery.