Medicinal plants

Medicinal cannabis – a medicinal plant with therapeutic potential – application & treatment for health

Medicinal cannabis – a medicinal plant with therapeutic potential

In Germany, since March 2017, medical hemp or medical cannabis can be prescribed by a doctor for serious illnesses. This applies to finished medicinal products as well as to cannabis flowers and extracts.

Medical cannabis is imported under the aegis of the Cannabis Agency, which is subordinate to the BfArM (Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices). Cultivation under strict conditions has been permitted since 2019. The legislature thus recognizes the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Reason enough to take a closer look at the pros and cons of medicinal cannabis !

What is medicinal cannabis?

Medicinal cannabis is not a cure. However, it can alleviate the symptoms of certain diseases.

The history of the use of hemp as medicinal cannabis goes back to the beginnings of medicine and pharmacology. Even then, people recognized the benefits and used the plants for healing purposes for the first time.

Medical cannabis is largely identical to conventional cannabis, which remains banned for recreational use. It is classified as medicinally effective when used to relieve a condition, symptom or disease rather than for pleasure. Thus, any cannabis strain that exhibits an effective amount of cannabinoids can be used for medicinal purposes. Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in the hemp plant.

Cannabis exerts its effects via the ECS

The effects of cannabis have been scientifically studied since the 1940s. Nevertheless, the exact effects and functions of cannabinoids have not yet been fully clarified.

Towards the end of the 20th century, a part of the human nervous system responsible for the transmission of information between nerve cells and organs, the so-called endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), was discovered. The body’s own endocannabinoids act as messengers. They dock onto the receptors of the ECS and activate or block signals. The cannabinoids found in hemp plants are believed to work in a similar way.

So far, two different receptors have been identified, which are called CB1 and CB2 for the sake of simplicity. The first type is predominantly present in the brain. It influences memory, motivation, perception and is responsible for emotions. The CB2 receptors are distributed throughout the body. They are primarily credited with regulating the immune system. They are also suspected to be in the liver , muscles , heart and skin .

Cannabis and its active ingredients

The hemp plant contains more than a hundred different active ingredients. Two of them in particular are the best studied and predestined for use as medicinal cannabis. The best known is called THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and also has psychoactive effects. The second interesting substance is CBD (cannabidiol). It doesn’t induce intoxication. Both cannabinoids in combination are said to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects.

For which diseases is medicinal hemp used?

Medicinal cannabis is not a cure. However, it is able to alleviate the symptoms of certain diseases and can therefore curb the use of chemically manufactured medicines with all their negative side effects. However, no generally valid statements can be made for many clinical pictures due to the incomplete research situation. In addition, many scientists disagree. Due to its broad spectrum of effects, cannabis is of interest for a wide range of applications, whereby the application often leads to an improvement in the quality of life.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, medical cannabis is preferably used in patients suffering from chronic pain. Common symptoms are described as arthrosis and rheumatoid arthritis . It is also used for nerve pain and in palliative medicine. Some medical professionals assume that small doses of cannabis can show success in the concomitant treatment of AIDS due to the strengthening of the immune system .

Due to its antispasmodic and relaxing effects, cannabis is of interest for a number of other clinical pictures. Research into epilepsy is the most advanced . Alleviating the symptoms of panic attacks and depressive episodes has also been reported, with low-THC cannabis strains being preferred.

In patients with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), which is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, improvements in behavior have been observed in the latter two factors. Even cannabis is powerless in the proliferation of cancer cells. However, it can curb the nausea and associated nausea caused by chemotherapy. Medical cannabis can be effective against schizophrenia .

Again, it is more the CBD that has the positive properties. When improving sleep disorders, doctors assume that this is due to secondary causes, e.g. B. the pain-relieving moments can ensure a more peaceful sleep. In addition, medical cannabis is used in asthmatics, glaucoma, neurodermatitis and Parkinson’s disease .

Who can prescribe cannabis?

The law does not impose any special qualifications or requirements on doctors authorized to prescribe medicinal cannabis. The doctor requires a license in Germany or within the EU. As a rule, the patient’s first step is to see their family doctor or a specialist.

Furthermore, the regulation does not provide for any restrictions on the clinical picture. This means medical cannabis can be prescribed for any medical condition. It is also not necessary, as is wrongly spread in various media, that the patient has to be out of therapy, i.e. other medications no longer work. The decision as to whether cannabis should be prescribed lies solely with the treating doctor in consultation with the patient.

Does health insurance cover the costs?

If the health insurance company is to cover the costs of treatment with medical cannabis , the patient must submit an application before the treatment begins. This is usually granted, it can only be rejected in justified exceptional cases.

However, the cash register is given a decision period of three to five weeks. In the course of outpatient palliative care or when continuing treatment that has already started, this period is reduced to three days.

Can I grow hemp plants myself?

The use of medicinal cannabis is increasing as many people seek great help and relief from their ailments. However, a basic distinction must be made between legal acquisition and legal cultivation. In Germany, cultivation for private individuals remains prohibited. It is subject to the state monopoly in every form.

In the 2019 tender, three companies were awarded the contract to grow medicinal cannabis in indoor plantations near Neumünster and Dresden. Due to bureaucratic obstacles and an incorrect tender, this had to be repeated in 2020. The first harvest is therefore not expected until spring 2021.

Ultimately, there is a hardship rule, which only comes into play in the rarest of cases. If the purchase of medical cannabis from the pharmacy exceeds the financial means of the patient and the statutory health insurance company refuses reimbursement, individual permits for cultivation can be issued to private individuals. This route usually leads through the courts, which can lead to additional costs, and is therefore not recommended.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.