TREATING INJURIES WITH CANNABIS
Today's doctors are reviving ancient cannabis medical practices, including its use as a treatment for wounds, insect bites, and more..
For many centuries cannabis was used as a textile, medicine, lubricant and also as the base of ointments and medicinal oils that were used to aid the healing of wounds, cuts, burns, insect bites and cosmetic issues. Today, thanks to the legalization of medical marijuana in much of the free world, the medical community is rediscovering the many medicinal properties and uses of perhaps the most medicinal herb on the planet.
In the annals of history, picking, but one of thousands of examples, we see that the Egyptians (Papyri) used a cannabis extract mixed with animal fat to treat flesh wounds and nasal bleeding. The Egyptians also used Papyri to treat their horses wounds and ulcers as well.
MEDIEVAL EUROPEAN PHYSICIANS USE OF CANNABIS OINTMENTS 1500-1650
The French herbalist Dr. Ruellius stated in his treatise De Natura 1536 that cannabis could be used to treat wounds and ulcers. German botanist Tabernaemontana also recommended a mix of butter balm and cannabis leaves for the topical treatment of burns. British herbalist Nicholas Culpeper left evidence that cannabis could be used to treat burns and bleeding due to its antiseptic properties. In 1751, the British herbalist Thomas Short documented in Medicina. Britannica that a preparation of cannabis could be used to treat burns, wounds, sores and insect bites.
Today, sadly, most cosmetics and topical remedies are full of synthetic chemicals, despite the fact that their toxicity is well documented (see LD 50) for their carcinogenic, irritant, allergic and other common side effects, which could be rather called their actual effects. Why the change from non-toxic, inexpensive and effective medicines (as modern medicine rediscovers now)? It is all in the name of money.
About a century ago, big business took over medicine with the advent of synthetic chemical medicines. Soon, patentable medicines, expensive and profitable ones filled the pharmacy. Out went cannabis, coca, poppy extracts, and in came synthetic forms, forms that were far more dangerous than their organic cousins.
Today, one can surf the internet and find hundreds of research papers conducted by major universities and medical instructions around the world that show how cannabinoids, the main components of cannabis promote healing of skin conditions and wounds. Not only that, CBD and a mixture of whole plant cannabis plant extracts have been to promote bone growth and the healing of fractures. In animal studies, the broken bones of rodents healed twice as fast with
greater density as compared to control groups (no cannabis).
HOW CANNABIS HEALS
While the exact mechanisms to explain exactly how cannabis helps heal injuries, they now know that the endocannabinoid system lies at the center of the healing miracle. The endocannabinoid system plays an essential role in directing the process of self-healing. The body’s own chemicals (called endocannabinoids) affect cellular receptors which in turn catalyze many physiological and cerebral processes.
Originally, it was thought that cannabis affected only cognitive function. Then researchers found that cannabis effects extended to the entire nervous system. With the subsequent discovery of a second cannabinoid receptor, it was shown that phyto-cannabinoids (from plants) played a role in modulating the immune system cells, and thus activity. Now the question is, what systems are not affected by the endocannabinoid system.
The mechanism of action for cannabis cannabinoids is quite simple. They can perform the same role, to instigate and modulate cellular activity. When the body is in short supply of its own endocannabinoids, supplementation with phytocannabinoids can restore body and cerebral function. So, when applying a cannabis ointment to a wound, the cellular receptors are triggered into enhanced healing action, and this phenomena is seen in the healing of fractures as well.
“The endocannabinoid system plays a fundamental role in the process of self-healing and plays an essential role in the formation of scar tissue.”
A 2010 study conducted at USC found that synthetic cannabinoid compound URB937 promoted extraordinary healing in rats and mice with peripheral lesions, where anandamide levels increased and the analgesic effect became stronger. A recent study at the Medical University of China found that mice with incisions in the skin, the number of cells expressing CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors increased at the lesion site within six hours of the and back down to basal levels about two weeks after the injury.
Initially, new CB1 expressing cells at the lesion were mononuclear cells- red cells and specialized immune cells – which mediate inflammation and immune responses. After several days, the fibroblast cells - essential for wound healing and scarring - began to multiply and dominate numbers.
So, not only does cannabis and its phyto-cannabinoids enhance the healing of injuries, the epidermis and skin tissue, it also plays a role in the healing of internal injuries to the organs and especially the gut.
In fact, the effects of cannabinoids are never so profound as seen in the human colon, where the epithelial tissue contains massive quantities of both CB1 and CB2 receptors. In normal tissue, CB1 dominates in number, however in areas of insult, the number of CB2 receptors begin to dominate in total number. CB1 receptors seem to be involved in wound closure in the colonic epithelium but in chronic conditions CB2 receptors are essential to ensure that excessive scarring occurs.
In the periodontal tissue injury, the cannabinoid receptor expression in cells immediately increases, suggesting that enhanced CB receptor activity promotes the survival of fibroblasts and therefore accelerate the healing of wounds.
In tissue damage with chronic inflammation (such as alcoholism or hepatitis) the biological response promotes wound healing where the fibroblast cells migrate to the damaged area and begin the process of fibrosis or scarring. The overproduction of fibrous connective inhibits the ability of the liver to function normally. This is the condition of cirrhosis. Cannabinoids have been shown to have the potential to modulate and normalize the production of these fibrous connective tissues and therefore treat cirrhosis at the root.
“Synthetic CB1 antagonist, SR141716A receptors inhibits wound healing response to acute liver injury, and decreased progression cirrhosis in three types of chronic injury, which supported the idea that the CDB and similar antagonists may help in the treatment of cirrhosis.” - 2006 Journal Nature Medicine
Even though hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of cannabinoids, they still have very useful ingredients such as omega 3 and 6 oils - which have been shown to promote healing of the dermis and epidermis. The healing properties of the seed oil might be effectively combined with the cannabinoid rich oils found in the female flower (bud).
Certainly further research is needed in order to understand and optimize on the many medicinal properties of medicinal cannabis based topical. Now that growing cannabis at home is allowed in some shape or form in much of the “free” world, and due to the fact that topical application of substances with very high LD 50s (very low toxicity) the good people can make their own oils and creams and apply them as people have done throughout history.
“You don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows and a man is his own best doctor.”
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