Active Medicinal Plant Compounds in Marijuana

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

As it turns out, potheads may be keeping themselves healthy and high at the same time. That’s because marijuana is loaded with active medicinal plant compounds. Generically called cannabinoids, (THC, the stuff in pot that causes cannabis’s characteristic intoxication is most well-known of these molecules) they are responsible for many of the effects associated with smoking or eating the evil weed and desired by dopers. These phytochemicals are little chunks or protein (peptides) that mimic a family of substances called endocannabanoids that are naturally found in the human nervous system, and they have become the latest darlings in the world of brain biochemistry.

Active Medicinal Plant Compounds in MarijuanaAccording to an American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics article published in the journal Pharmacological Reviews, recent discoveries into the pot plant peptides have triggered an “exponential growth of studies exploring the endocannabinoid system and its regulatory functions in health and disease” According to the September 2006 article, modulation of the cannabinoid system can potentially improve the symptoms of a wide range of medical conditions including emotional and mental disorders, nervous system and movement issues (e.g. Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases ) spinal cord injury and nerve pain, osteoporosis, obesity and metabolic syndrome and various circulatory health issues, including myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis.

And there’s even more. According to another article, this one from the Journal of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, the cannabinoid family of peptides is involved in maintaining pregnancy and preventing miscarriage. Even small changes in endocannabinoid system of a pregnant woman in the words of the authors “can retard development and prevent implantation success”.
And just last week even more research acknowledged the gifts of good ganja. This latest study, from the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, describes the work of scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel who found that cannabinoids in marijuana can help improve MS-like symptoms by preventing brain and spinal cord inflammation.

That’s a lot of health benefits for an illegal drug whose possession can cost your freedom. As connoisseurs of the chronic are well-aware, harassing people for kind bud keep cops and the legal system very busy. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that in 2007 over 800,000 people were arrested for marijuana related offenses and according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), 41,000 United States citizens are currently residing as wards of the Federal and State prison systems for charges involving pot, which in the words of the MPP are “more people than are imprisoned on all charges combined in eight individual European countries”.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health