The utilization of cannabis as an illicit drug has been an issue across the globe and it’s no less complicated by the fact that different countries are anchored in their own unique beliefs and systems surrounding the plant.
However, there is no denying that the legalization of cannabis in the medical field is gaining more and more public support. People in general have become much more aware of the medical benefits of cannabis and this will only grow as legalization continues to sweep the planet.
This article seeks to educate the reader on the usage of cannabis, possible health risks when used irresponsibly, ways to purchase cannabis products online, and whether or not weed can benefit your fitness and recovery.
But first… What is Cannabis (Marijuana)?
Cannabis, also often referred to as marijuana, weed or by other names, is a genus of flowering plants that are commonly grown in wild temperate and tropical areas of the world. Cannabis is also capable of growing in any climate as it can be easily cultivated with the use of technology such as indoor hydroponics.
Once harvested, dried, and cured, cannabis is then consumed using different methods for both medical and recreational reasons. Respective variants of the plant will produce either a sativa, indica or hybrid strain, all of which will affect the user differently.
A Closer Look
Marijuana normally consists mainly of THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol which is the most active chemical compound and the one responsible for the psychoactive effects or “high” experienced by the user. However, there are numerous other beneficial compounds (nonpsychoactive) in cannabis including (CBD) cannabidiol, (CBN) cannabinol, and many others.
Furthermore, different plants are breed for specific purposes and extraction processes often even focus on extracting one or multiple compounds depending on the medical need. For example, CBD strains and extractions provide the medical benefits of CBD but because only trace amounts of THC exist, they fall within legal territory.
For centuries now, cannabis has been used for medical purposes since it is a helpful aide when it comes to various health conditions. Cannabis is of course also used for recreational reasons due to the aforementioned psychoactive compound THC and the “high” or euphoric feelings it produces for the user.
Benefits aside, consuming too much cannabis can lead to temporary hallucinations, rapid heart rate, and paranoia. Other temporary side effects may also be experienced, however, even an “overdose” of marijuana cannot cause physical death, unlike many prescription pain killers and other common medicines pushed by big pharma.
Cannabis is also a depressant so it is capable of slowing down the function of the central nervous system, affecting the messages going between the brain and the body, and chronic use may cause depression in some individuals.
Overall, though, cannabis is truly a remarkable plant and as the medical community continues to study it and the public further embraces it, the medical benefits will only be further realized.
What Are the Medical Uses of Cannabis?
For centuries now, cannabis has been proven to be helpful for different medical ailments. Some of the conditions often treated with cannabis include the following:
- Vomiting and nausea during chemotherapy
- Severe weight loss, particularly in people suffering from cancer, anorexia nervosa, and HIV or AIDS, for cannabis can stimulate appetite
- Helps with many neurological disorders involving muscle spasms, including spinal cord injury and sclerosis
- Relieves pain in people experiencing arthritis and even cancer
This list also just scratches the surface and the medical issues that cannabis can treat is growing steadily as more research is done on medical marijuana as a whole.
If you feel that marijuana may benefit you, be sure to consult with your doctor first. While cannabis is generally very safe and can be safely mixed with many prescription medicines, it’s always best to get the advice of a medical professional just in case.
How is Cannabis Consumed?
Cannabis can be utilized in many different forms. Its effects may also vary significantly depending on how it is consumed. Here are some of the more common consumption products/methods:
- Marijuana flower – This is the most common form of cannabis that many users consume. It is when the flowers’ buds and dried leaves of the cannabis plant are typically smoked using a bong, pipe or joint.
- Hashish – It is made from a secreted gum (resin) of the cannabis plant that is gathered and squeezed into blocks, sticks, or balls.
- Hash oil – It also is known as cannabis oil or in another term, honey oil. It is the liquid form of cannabis extracts that are often added to the tip of a cigarette or a joint and then smoked.
- Edibles – Cannabis is also added to different kinds of food. These are referred as edibles. Usually, it takes around 1 – 1.5 hours before experiencing the effects because of the first pass metabolism effect when consuming products orally.
Notes on Cannabis Consumption
When consuming cannabis, especially edibles, it’s important to keep in mind some of the following considerations:
When it comes to edibles, overconsumption or overdose is very common with new users. Because of first pass metabolism (digestion), it takes longer for a user to feel the effects. Users often think they should consume more to immediately feel its effects. Unfortunately, consuming more can later cause some uncomfortable or even very scary psychoactive effects including temporary psychosis. Also, food that consists of inconstant levels of THC can cause users difficulty in regulating the amount consumed as well. In conclusion, it’s therefore best to start out with a very small amount when eating a cannabis edible to negate any possible negative side effects.
Smoking or Vaporizing:
On the other hand, the effects of cannabis can be felt immediately when it is vaporized or smoked. The chance of overdose is dramatically reduced when consuming cannabis via the lungs. However, health concerns might arise in the long-term when smoking cannabis, particularly if it’s mixed with tobacco. Vaporizing is generally considered safer than smoking because the carcinogens are dramatically or completely reduced when using quality products and equipment.
Potential Health Risks of Cannabis Consumption
While cannabis is an amazing medicinal plant that can treat a number of ailments, it also has potential side effects that may negatively impact your health or well-being.
For example, excessive use of cannabis may cause sexual dysfunction, impairment of judgment that could lead to accidents, chronic bronchitis, suppressed body immune system, reduced brain function, acute memory loss, and other issues.
However, it’s worth noting that not everyone will experience these side effects and many are only temporary. Many proponents of cannabis even go as far as saying that cannabis has no long-term negative health effects.
In my opinion, claiming marijuana is harmless and that it has no long-term negative health effects is irresponsible, though. In time, however, the long-term health effects of marijuana will come to light as more and more research is done due to legality opening up more each day globally. Until then, I’m not 100% convinced that cannabis is completely safe.
How you consume cannabis and how much you consume makes a big difference here as well, so this is definitely something to note. For example, smoking marijuana vs eating it; the former is not as healthy for pretty obvious reasons.
In conclusion, make sure to be responsible with your actions to avoid complications, which may discredit the positive and helpful effects of cannabis. Moderate and responsible consumption is the best approach here.
Where Can I Purchase Cannabis?
Depending on the country or state you live in, cannabis can be purchased in a number of ways, legally or illegally. Obviously you will want to research cannabis laws in your location before considering either option, especially the latter for it can come with heavy consequences.
Many places only offer “medical” marijuana with a doctor’s prescription but you can also purchase it legally for recreational use in many states in the USA. For example, California, Oregon, Washington, and Denver have some of most lax marijuana laws in the nation.
If you live in a medical only legal state, purchasing cannabis is as simple as getting a doctor’s note and then visiting your local medical marijuana dispensary. On the other hand, if you happen to reside in a recreational legal state, a doctor’s note isn’t even required. In fact, you can even order online from a mail order dispensary.
Cannabis on Fitness and Recovery
Cannabis can be a fantastic aide to improve fitness motivation and focus, boost energy, and help your muscles recover by reducing inflammation and improving sleep quality. Here’s how cannabis can impact pain, sleep, and focus:
Cannabis and Pain:
There have been quite a few studies that show the utilization of cannabis can relieve chronic pain, especially when using strains heavy in (CBD) Cannabidiol. Since CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory nature, it can be a great weapon against sore muscles and joints. CBD can be helpful for other general aches and pains as well. For example, CBD is great for headaches.
Cannabis and Sleep:
Many fitness enthusiasts and athletes use cannabis to help themselves both unwind in the evenings and fall asleep. Quality sleep is crucial for both muscle and mental recovery. For anybody that works and plays hard in and outside the gym, it’s not always easy to fall asleep. Indica dominant cannabis strains can do wonders for anyone struggling to fall asleep, including full-blown insomniacs.
Cannabis and Focus:
I personally know quite a few fitness enthusiasts who consume cannabis before every workout and outdoor fitness activity. While this isn’t necessarily the best practice, cannabis can definitely improve your focus and even improve your motivation to work out. That said, consuming too much cannabis can potentially disconnect you from your body and you may injure yourself when losing focus. For example, you can get too much in your head, forget to tighten your core, and potentially injure your back in the process. Also, if you’re having to rely on cannabis everyday to get yourself motivated, you may have an underlying problem to sort out. All this aside, you can’t deny the powerful motivation and energy that Sativa dominant cannabis strains can offer.
The Bottom Line
Despite all its positive medical benefits, we can’t deny the fact that overuse of cannabis can have potential negative consequences. Be responsible with your usage and actions to avoid complications. A little goes a long way when it comes to cannabis consumption.
On the other hand, cannabis use is generally very safe and in the eyes of many regular consumers and experts alike, the pros far outweigh the cons in too many ways to detail here. I personally agree with this and find cannabis to be a wonderful aide for health and general fitness when used moderately and responsibly.
Do you use cannabis for health and fitness? Let me know your experience in the comments below…