Cannabis is a plant that is popular among different cultures across the globe. Its fame comes from its use as a recreational drug or its mentions on popular media and research with the medical breakthroughs surrounding it. Despite its fame, few are familiar with the uses of the different parts of the plant, especially, in this case, its flowers.
The Cannabis Flower
The cannabis flower is described as the trichome-covered part of the plant. A common misconception of the cannabis plant is that its leaves are used for smoking or vaping; instead, it is the flower that carries this ease of consumption.
It is the flower of the female cannabis plant that is harvested for consumption – this is due to the flowers being rich in THC and CBD. Although you can technically harvest male flowers for consumption, male flowers contain less THC and CBD than female flowers.
Another reason why male cannabis plants are frowned upon is the capability of even just one male to pollinate an entire batch of female plants as cannabis plants pollinate through the air. Pollinated female plants then tend to focus all of their energy and nutrients on their seeds which lower the quality of the crop.
There are three different species of cannabis plants, namely: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. It is the sativa and indica species that is cultivated to harvest flowers, whereas it is the ruderalis species that is commonly cultivated for additional genetic material to strengthen the sativa and indica plants.
Sativa flowers are the commonly found cannabis species tending to possess higher THC levels. Its effects are more cerebral, giving the user enhanced creativity and a jolt of fresh energy.
Indica flowers are known more for their medicinal and healing qualities such as being able to alleviate pain, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, muscle spasms, and inducing muscle relaxation.
Hybrid flowers are specifically bred by cultivators to contain the effects of both sativa and indica strains. Cultivators tend to mix and match which of the two strains are dominant, so THC content, as well as effects, vary greatly. This is great for the consumer as they will be able to look for hybrid strains that benefit them most.
How do I take my cannabis flower?
Cannabis flower is typically used in Australia medically via an electronic medical cannabis vaporiser. When inhaling, the active ingredients are absorbed almost immediately into your bloodstream through the lungs. The effects of the cannabis flower can be felt within 10 minutes and generally lasts between 2-4 hours. This administration technique is ideal for managing acute symptoms.
There’s a misconception around the type of flower products. Many people believe that they can only consume a THC flower medical product, however, CBD in form of flower is highly prescribed for a wide range of conditions and usually recommended to relieve acute symptoms.
So, what conditions can potentially benefit from cannabis flower?
Aside from the commonly known relaxing and stimulating effects of cannabis, there is evidence of cannabis being used as a good facilitator of sleep and alleviating insomnia.
In a study done by the University of New Mexico in 2018 (1), four hundred and nine individuals known to have a specified condition of insomnia were observed on their perceived insomnia after consuming medical cannabis flower. The researchers concluded a significant improvement in perceived insomnia with differential effectiveness associated with medical cannabis flower; averages of 4.5 points reduction in a 0 -10 point visual analog scale.
Another helpful ability of cannabis flower is the management of sleep apnea. It is shown through research done by the Department of Medicine in the University of Illinois in 2002 (2) that THC aided in a decreased apnea index by 42%, which is directly comparable to the result of Oleamide, a self-produced organic compound in the body that promotes REM sleep.
Management of spasticity in multiple sclerosis is another crucial ability of cannabis and is approved for use in several countries like Spain. In 2012, the Unidad de Esclerosis Multiple in Hospital Clinico San Carlos, Spain (3), shows that THC plus CBD in a 1:1 ratio is efficient in reducing spasticity and associated symptoms with no addictive effects found. The research was borne from a 2002 study done by the Oxford Centre for Enablement, United Kingdom (4), where 160 patients were tested with THC and CBD at a dose of 2.5-120mg each daily in divided doses versus a placebo. The outcome was measured using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), showing a reduction from a mean of 74.36 to 48.89. Likewise, no adverse effects on cognition or mood, and intoxication was mild.
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1. Vigil, J. et al. 2018. Effectiveness of Raw, Natural Medical Cannabis flower for Treating Insomnia under Naturalistic Conditions. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164964/
2. Carley, D. et al. 2002. Functional role for cannabinoids in respiratory stability during sleep. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12071539/
3. Oreja-Guevarra, C. 2012. Treat of spasticity in multiple sclerosis: new perspectives regarding the use of cannabinoids. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23011861/
4. Wade, D. et al. 2004. Do cannabis-based medicinal extracts have general or specific effects on symptoms in multiple sclerosis? A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study on 160 patients. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15327042/