FAQ

What’s with all the different names – cannabis, hemp, marijuana, dagga?

All of these are essentially the same plant, Cannabis sativa. The naming convention distinguishes between cannabis maruana and hemp by the levels of specific cannabinoids present in the plant. Should a plant contain less than 0,3% THC it is called hemp, and plants which contain more than that are called cannabis or marijuana.

Are there different strains of the plant?

It is generally accepted that all plants grown for medicinal purposes are Cannabis sativa. Genomic background, growing conditions and climate all affect the active compounds present in the plant, so rather than referring to different strains of Cannabis sativa, it is more accurate to refer to different chemovars.

Does it matter if the plant is grown organically?

Cannabis sativa is a phytoaccumilator, meaning while the plant absorbs water and nutrients from the soil it readily absorbs toxins and heavy metals too. Because of this nifty skill, C. sativa is being used the world over in phytoremediation projects where land has been contaminated. This however doesn’t bode well for the medicinal consumer. Studies have shown alarming levels of toxins present in commercial products. In America states such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon have gone through years of teething problems but have pioneered organically grown hemp fields free from any of these dangers. It is imperative to only consume certified organically-grown cannabis products.

What are the medicinal compounds of the plant?

Cannabinoids are the major medicinal compounds found in the plant. The two best researched ones are THC (the one that gets you high) and CBD (sorry, no cheap thrills). The total number of cannabinoids discovered is just over 100, but new ones are being discovered as research continues, the latest is THCP
and CBDP.

What parts of the plant are used?

The whole lot! Humans have been cultivating C. sativa for thousands of years for food, fibre, biofuel and medicine. Cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted primarily from the flower to produce medicines.

How are the cannabinoids extracted?

There are a number of extraction methods, but experts agree that CO2 extraction is superior leading to a safer, higher quality product. In this method CO2 is used with pressure and heat to extract cannabis components from the fibre. Another commonly used method is using ethanol, essentially dissolving the plant material and removing the alcohol through evaporation

Whats does it mean to ‘winterize’ the extract?

This is a really important step in ensuring a pure end product. After the initial extraction, winterization provides an additional purification process by placing the extract and ethanol in sub-zero temperatures – separating waxes, terpenes and lipids from the extract.

How much CBD should one take?

The legal daily limit in South Africa is 20mg. It’s not unusual to start with a 10mg dose and increase or decrease depending on the individual reaction.

What’s with all the different names – cannabis, hemp, marijuana, dagga?

All of these are essentially the same plant, Cannabis sativa. The naming convention distinguishes between cannabis maruana and hemp by the levels of specific cannabinoids present in the plant. Should a plant contain less than 0,3% THC it is called hemp, and plants which contain more than that are called cannabis or marijuana.

How is CBD best absorbed in the body?

This is two-fold – firstly the purity and form in which the CBD is delivered and then where in the body it is being absorbed. The best carrier for CBD oil is medium chain triglyceride, usually derived from coconuts.

MCT is water soluble, increasing the bioavailability of the CBD, is more stable and protective than other vegetable based carriers and has a host of its own health benefits. Once in a suitable carrier, CBD is best absorbed in the mucosa of the mouth, such as in the cheek or better yet under the tongue. One of the most wasterful ways of consuming CBD is by swallowing it. It is estimated that almost 80% is lost in the gastrointestinal tract.

What does CBD do in the body?

We have in our body another system much like the nervous system, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In the ECS we have receptors throughout the body, such as CB1 receptors primarily located in the brain and spinal cord and CB2 receptors primarily in the periphery and some in the brain and spine. We also have endocannabinoids, the two best know ones are anandamide and 2AG that interact with these receptors and essentially aim to bring the body into a state of homeostasis or balance. Phyto cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD are known as exogenous cannabinoids that interact with the ECS and ourendocannabinnoids in a number of ways. THC has been studied the most and the mechanism of action is  relatively well understood, the case is less so for CBD although progress is being made in real time.

What conditions have been studied for treatment with CBD?

• Childhood epilepsy (the first ever CBD pharmaceutical drug Epidiolex was registered in 2018)
• Parkinsons
• Numerous forms of chronic pain
• Peripheral neuropathy, especially associated with diabetes
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Acute pain and inflammation
• Side-effects associated with certain forms of chemotherapy

These are only a few examples and it’s important to stress that research around cannabinoids is in its infancy. It’s even more important to understand that cannabis and cannabis derived medicines are not apanacea and should be used with discretion

What are the contraindications for taking CBD?

Because cannabinoids are processed in a specific enzymatic pathway in the liver and interact with the nervous system, it is crucial to discuss the use of CBD and any other cannabinoids with your healthcare provider. Some better know interactions include Warfarin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS)

What are the possible side-effects of taking CBD?

Studies have shown CBD to be effective and safe in doses ranging from 5mg to 1500mg, but as with any compound, natural or otherwise, some people may react differently than the norm. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking CBD to discuss the risks and possible benefits.

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