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Open Access A Brief Background on Cannabis: From Plant to Medical Indications

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Cannabis has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. As a result of centuries of breeding and selection, there are now over 700 varieties of cannabis that contain hundreds of compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids are fatty compounds that are the main biological active constituents of cannabis. Terpenes are volatile compounds that occur in many plants and have distinct odors. Cannabinoids exert their effect on the body by binding to receptors, specifically cannabinoid receptors types 1 and 2. These receptors, together with endogenous cannabinoids and the systems for synthesis, transport, and degradation, are called the Endocannabinoid System. The two most prevalent and commonly known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol. The speed, strength, and type of effects of cannabis vary based on the route of administration. THC is rapidly distributed through the body to fatty tissues like the brain and is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 system to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is also psychoactive. Cannabis and cannabinoids have been indicated for several medical conditions. There is evidence of efficacy in the symptomatic treatment of nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, loss of appetite, Tourette’s syndrome, and epilepsy. Cannabis has also been associated with treatment for glaucoma, Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and dystonia, but there is not good evidence to support its efficacy. Side effects of cannabis include psychosis and anxiety, which can be severe. Here, we provided a summary of the history of cannabis, its pharmacology, and its medical uses.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tomori Pharmacology Inc., Denver, CO

Publication date: March 1, 2019

This article was made available online on August 23, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "A Brief Background on Cannabis: From Plant to Medical Indications".

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  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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