Natural Standard® Patient Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). All Rights Reserved. Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Background

Marijuana, hemp, and cannabis are common names for plants of the genus Cannabis. The term "hemp" is used for Cannabis plants that are grown for nondrug use, such as Cannabis sativa. Cannabis indica has poor fiber quality and is used to make drugs for recreation and medicine. The major differences between the two are appearance and the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient of marijuana.

Cannabis sativa is widely used for recreation. It has been inhaled or taken by mouth to produce a feeling of relaxation or well-being. The plant has been studied as a potential treatment for many conditions, including chronic skin disorders, cancer-related weakness and weight loss, chronic pain, Huntington's disease, sleep disorders, eye disease, multiple sclerosis, and schizophrenia. The most significant benefits have been seen in the treatment of chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. Marijuana may help reduce eye pressure in people who have glaucoma.

The most commonly studied ingredients in marijuana are THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Research has looked at these compounds both alone and in combination. Commercially available products include dronabinol (Marinol®), nabilone (Cesamet®), THC, and CBD (Sativex®).

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

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