The Complete Guide to Understanding the Various Medical Marijuana Types

Friday, June 16, 2023


Medical marijuana, or cannabis, is used to ease the adverse symptoms of certain diseases or side effects of their treatment. It contains more than 100 active chemicals called cannabinoids.

THC and CBD are the most well-known types of medical marijuana, but others may help ease your pain or anxiety. Here is a look at some of them.


THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary active chemical in marijuana. It produces the high people feel when they smoke or eat it. It can also relieve pain and stimulate the appetite. Additionally, it can make HIV/AIDS patients more hungry and lessen nausea and vomiting in cancer patients getting chemotherapy. It may ease muscle spasms and stiffness in multiple sclerosis and help people with Parkinson's disease eat more and sleep better. It can also lower pressure inside the eye, a condition called glaucoma, although it may not be as effective as other medicines.

Almost 1 million people over 45 in the United States have MS, which causes painful muscle spasms. They are the second-largest group of medical marijuana users after those with chronic pain. Early-stage research suggests that marijuana can ease muscle spasms, tremors, and pain, but it is not clear whether the drug helps improve overall function or quality of life. It may also help them reduce their other medications, including opiates and NSAIDs like Advil or Aleve.

Only dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Syndros), two prescription drugs containing synthetic cannabis, have received FDA approval. Under federal law, marijuana in the form of smoked or chewed raw marijuana is prohibited. 


CBD interacts with neuroreceptors in your endocannabinoid system, sending signals between cells to help regulate movement, mood, and homeostasis. It treats pain, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and PTSD. Unlike THC, CBD won't get you high. It is usually taken as a pill or oil and can be inhaled with a vaporizing pen. However, it's generally avoided in people with pulmonary diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

CBD also treats inflammatory conditions like arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. It may also relieve stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality in people with health conditions that interfere with slumber, such as obstructive sleep apnea or fibromyalgia.

Many states allow you to buy marijuana for medical reasons if you have a doctor's written statement explaining that it helps your condition. It's important to choose products made by manufacturers who follow the good manufacturing practices required of pharmaceutical medicines or those used for dietary supplements, a voluntary standard. Look for a certificate of analysis that lists the tests a manufacturer carried out on a product, and check the results. Some labs have been caught falsifying test results. It would help if you also looked for information about how marijuana might affect other medications you take, including SSRI antidepressants and NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve.


In the United States, medical marijuana is usually available with a doctor's prescription. You can get it as pills, liquids, creams, patches, sprays, or marijuana edibles. It may help with pain, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, or glaucoma.

Marijuana plants contain many phytocannabinoids. These molecules show similar binding affinity with CB receptors but have chemical structures different from THCs. Phytocannabinoids include THC, CBD, CBC, CBN, and more.

The endocannabinoid system in your body binds to these phytocannabinoids, and it starts or regulates specific functions to promote homeostasis. It controls various bodily functions, including the immune, nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive, and skeletal systems.

Medical marijuana is used to treat some illnesses, including glaucoma, HIV/AIDS-related appetite loss, chronic pain, nausea, and vomiting brought on by cancer treatment. It may also help with headaches, fibromyalgia symptoms, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease symptoms, according to certain research and anecdotal data.

The FDA has approved two oral cannabinoid medicines — dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet). These medicines contain synthetic THC, but they don't have the psychoactive effects of marijuana. There is an emerging class of cannabis products called "isolates," or extracts that contain high concentrations of a single phytocannabinoid, such as THC crystalline. These are becoming more popular. However, they don't have the same effect as whole-plant marijuana because they lack the entourage effect of other phytocannabinoids and terpenes.

Other Cannabinoids

The marijuana plant also produces hundreds of other chemicals called phytocannabinoids. These phytocannabinoids are less well understood than THC and CBD. They produce effects that include a euphoric feeling and sedation, but they do not have the mind-altering properties of THC. They can also relieve pain, make a person hungry, and lower pressure inside the eye (glaucoma).

The FDA has approved only one cannabis-derived medicine to treat a rare form of epilepsy in children. Despite this limited evidence, many doctors recommend marijuana to some patients. They say it can ease the nerve pain of multiple sclerosis and other conditions. It also can ease the nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatment and other illnesses. It can make people feel more able to eat and help them gain weight. It can also lessen the tremors of Parkinson's disease and ease the muscle spasms of fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and interstitial cystitis.

Marijuana can be taken in capsules, tablets, tinctures, and dermal patches. It can be smoked in a joint, on a pipe, or made into tea. It can also be used to flavor food or to put in a vape pen for vaporizing. Medical marijuana is legal in 38 states and the District of Columbia. It is often prescribed by physicians who specialize in a condition or illness.

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