Cannabis sativa is an erect herb commonly known as hemp or marijuana, or by vernacular names such as grass, weed, refer, and pot. C. sativa is a member of the Cannabinaceae or hemp family. Marijuana can be cultivated illegally in eastern and central North America. Marijuana was legal in the United States for industrial, recreational and medicinal uses until 1937 (Anon., 1996a).
C. sativa contains about sixty various psychoactive chemicals called cannabinoids. The most active component in C. sativa is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which is found in greatest concentrations in the flowering tops and leaves of the hemp plants. The word marijuana refers to the whole plant and the resin from hemp or also called hashish (Anon., 1996b).
Presently, C. sativa has four medicinal values. First, it is used to relieve nausea and increase appetite. Second, it brings about the reduction of intraocular pressure in glaucoma. Third, it causes a reduction of muscle spasms. Fourth, it provides relief from mild to moderate chronic pain (Anon., 1996a).
In 1975, a study was conducted testing the effects of marijuana on the cardiovascular system. People between the ages of 30-40 years, whom had never smoked marijuana were used for this experiment. Results showed that there is no direct cardiac effect of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) unless the THC dose is 50 fold. There were no changes in stimulation of ephedrine production (which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system), levels of blood glucose, lactate or pyruvates and fatty acid fractions. Changes to these effects were observed when the THC dose was 50 fold (Beacansfield, 1975).
In a study in 1982, researchers analyzed the biological effe...
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Sallan, S.E., N.E. Ainberg, and E. Frex. 1975. Antiemetic effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. The New England Journal of Medicine 293:795-797.
Singh, N., S. Vrat, B. Ali, and K.P. Bhargava. 1981. An assessment of biological effects of chronic use of cannabis in human subjects. Quarterly Journal of Crude Drug Research 19: 81-91.
Tashkin, D.P., B.J. Shapiro, Y.E. Lee, and C.E. Harper. 1975. Effects of smoked marijuana in experimentally induced asthma. American Review of Respiratory Disease 112.
Volfe Z., A. Dvilansky. and I. Nathan. 1985. Cannabinoids block release of serotonin from platelets induced by plasma from migraine patients. International Journal of Clinical and Pharmacological Research 5:243-246.
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