Health & Fitness

Cannabis between myths, facts and cultural implications

Cannabis has always been and to some extent continues to be a rather controversial plant and a very hot topic of debate in health and wellness circles. As expected, opinions on cannabis are divided. Some praise it for its possible health benefits while others demonize it or choose to ignore the hype surrounding it. 

Although cannabis popularity has soared over the years and scientific research has provided us with valuable insights into its properties and potential applications, cannabis is still a very misunderstood plant. That’s because most people are content with the crumble of information that reaches their ears through different media channels and never bother to look beneath the surface. 

But if you want to find out more about this fascinating plant and uncover its secrets, it’s worth digging deeper and getting educated in this respect. You’ll discover a captivating world filled with all sorts of curious myths and just as many interesting facts, all stemming from the delicate buds of the cannabis plant. 

Cannabis through the ages

Cannabis has a very long and rich history that spans centuries, continents and cultures. The use of cannabis dates back to the third millennium BC, although certain sources suggest that the plant might have been known since the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. According to archaeological research, cannabis was first attested in 2800 BC in Asia, being documented in Emperor Shen Nung’s Pharmacopoeia. Asians cultivated cannabis by planting regular, auto-flower or feminised seeds that would produce different types of strains. Apart from its healing properties, they also used the plant to make clothes, shoes, ropes, and an early form of paper. 

Cannabis use continued to spread over the centuries, reaching the Arab world (mostly in the form of hashish), the African continent and the western hemisphere. Other civilizations such as the ancient Greeks and Romans became acquainted with cannabis and its benefits, using it as a treatment for a wide range of health conditions, from arthritis, glaucoma and inflammation to chronic pain and asthma. 

Restrictions on cannabis began somewhere around the Middle Ages, in the Islamic world, when capital punishment was introduced for consuming cannabis. As western countries came into contact with cannabis-consuming civilizations, mostly during the colonial period, they started adopting their habits, which became a source of concern for the authorities. Colonial countries started banning the compound in the 19th century due to the ill effects of excessive use, a movement that continued in the 20th century when cannabis restrictions became widespread at international level. 

It wasn’t until the 21st century that authorities started to reconsider their approach to cannabis cultivation and consumption. Certain countries began taking measures to decriminalize or legalize cannabis following extensive research on the medical properties and potential health benefits of the plant. Recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in many countries, including Canada, Georgia, Malta, Mexico, and South Africa, plus 21 states in the US. The relaxation of laws laid the foundation for a thriving cannabis industry and a growing number of cannabis-based products. However, after so many decades of strict regulation and criminalisation, there’s still a stigma associated with the consumption of cannabis. 

A plant of legends and the truth behind the smoke 

Cannabis has stirred the imagination of many, both literally and metaphorically. Over time, all sorts of stories about cannabis started circulating, to the point it became difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. In order to put an end to the misinformation and prejudice that have been plaguing the cannabis industry for so long, we need to turn to science and debunk these myths.  

One common misconception is that all cannabis plants and therefore all cannabis-based products will get you high. People need to understand that not all cannabis plants are created equal. Only female cannabis plants produce buds that contain high levels of THC. That is why cultivators choose to use feminised cannabis seeds that don’t contain any male chromosomes and will therefore produce only female plants. A strain’s psychoactive properties are determined by the THC levels it contains as this is the compound responsible for producing euphoric effects. Therefore, before purchasing a cannabis-derived product one should always consult the label and check for THC concertation. 

Another erroneous idea that gets spread around quite often is that cannabis is some kind of miracle worker, so it can be used as a panacea to treat all sorts of health conditions and illnesses. The very idea that one planet is potent enough to cure every imaginable medical issue is simply absurd. But some people are determined to believe in fairy tales, and that’s why it’s necessary to listen to the voice of reason and look at the scientific evidence. 

So far, medical research on cannabis suggests that the plant does have certain therapeutic properties. Several studies have shown that cannabis may be able to treat chronic pain. Other studies revealed that has the potential to reduce inflammation, so it might benefit conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. Research also suggests that cannabis could help with sleep management or different mental health conditions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therefore, cannabis does hold therapeutic promise. However, since scientific research in this area is in its early stages, there are still many things left to uncover. More solid evidence is needed in order to determine how cannabis compounds interact with the human body and the effects they might elicit. 

Last but not least, it’s important for people to be aware that cannabis, just like all other medicinal plants and alternative forms of treatment, can cause side effects. So, while one may not experience severe issues, consuming too much cannabis can cause symptoms like dizziness, nausea, headaches or anxiety. That’s why it’s recommended to consult with your physician if you want to give cannabis a try for medical or recreational purposes. Staying informed and learning about both the pros and the cons is a must if you want to ensure a positive cannabis experience.

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