Understanding Medical Cannabis
Cannabis oil is a very effective and remarkably safe medicine. Both raw and cooked have great medicinal value but there are important differences between the two which need to be properly understood if you are making or using this medicine.
In it's raw unheated form, most of the cannabinoids present in cannabis are cannabinoid acids. Usually the most abundant cannabinoid acid is THCA (THC Acid) which converts to THC through heat/time. CBD is mostly present in the form of CBDA, CBC is present in CBCA etc. The process of converting cannabinoid acids like THCA into the neutral/activated cannabinoids is called Decarboxylation.
This is important to understand as the neutral/activated cannabinoids like THC are very different to their acidic precursors. For example, the cancer killing properties of cannabinoids that have been clinically identified are involving the neutral cannabinoids. So if you are making cannabis oil to treat a late stage cancer, like RSO (Rick Simpson Oil), it is critical that you cook the oil sufficiently to complete decarboxylation.
The cancer killing mechanisms of cannabinoids that have been identified are primarily involving the activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors (protein receptors in our cells that are retained by most cancer cells). THC activates both receptors, though has a greater affinity with CB1 (which is also responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC) while CBD activates only CB2 receptor. Both receptors have been shown to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.
THCA is the acidic precursor to THC. In it's acidic form it does not pass the blood brain barrier and does not activate either of these receptors so it is unable to induce the death of the cancer cell through this pathway.
THCA is believed to have it's own form of anti cancer effect through other pathways but such pathways are not so well established and understood and appear to be far less potent than the cancer killing effects observed for THC.
There for, while raw cannabis is recommended as a great supplement for cancer patients, it is properly cooked cannabis that is recommended as the primary treatment, especially for late stage cancers.
Raw cannabis does have many advantages over cooked cannabis. The main advantage is the larger quantities you can consume with out psychoactive effects. Raw THCA does not have any psychoactive effects so can be consumed in very large doses while THC, despite being remarkably non toxic, can only be comfortably tolerated in smaller doses. Though an increased tolerance can be built up by gradually increasing doses every 4 to 5 days.
Which ever you choose it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Fresh cannabis will be mostly if not completely cannabinoid acids like THCA, CBDA, CBCA etc. Some gradual decarboxylation will occur as the cannabis plant material is dried/cured but this is a very slow process at room temperature. Cold extraction methods like juicing or BHO (butane extraction) will be mostly raw cannabinoid acids. Hot extraction methods like RSO (Rick Simpson extraction method) will be partially cooked through the extraction process. If you wish to guarantee full decarboxylation (recommended for cancer patients) then it is advisable to cook oil for an hour at temperatures ranging between 110c and 130c. If you wish to avoid decarboxylation then any heat should be avoided and raw oils are best refrigerated as temps as low as 50c can cause a very small amount of decarboxylation.
There is a large variety of benefits to cannabis and both raw and cooked has it's benefits. If you are wanting the potent cancer fighting properties of THC, CBD and CBC then you will need to cook cannabis extracts to maximise the potency of the activated cannabinoids. If you wish to utilise the medical benefits, including the powerful anti inflammatory effects, of the raw cannabinoid acids like THCA, CBDA and CBCA then cold extractions and juicing is a better option.
Raw and cooked cannabis are very different so make sure you understand what is best for you. Learn the importance of decarboxylation and how to achieve it. Cannabis in all forms has great medicinal value but it is vital you know what is best for what condition and how to make sure you are producing the optimum medicine for your needs.