What is Cannabis?
There’s a lot of talk about cannabis lately, and as often happens with a lot of talk, there’s also a lot of confusion that goes along with it. With anything, though, it helps to understand the root of something before delving into its deeper complexities.
Cannabis is a flowering plant that originated in the Central Asia region. It’s known for its medicinal qualities and can be processed and consumed in several different ways.
Also, cannabis is actually considered the genus, and depending on how you classify them, there are a few different species of cannabis – Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis, the last of which is often considered a sativa variant. The differences between indica and sativa are biological, but practically speaking, the buds look differently from one another and they contain different concentrations of THC and CBD. Indica strains tend to have higher concentrations of CBD than sativa strains.
The plant itself is often referred to as hemp, although colloquially, hemp usually refers specifically to cannabis with very low levels of THC.
Benefits of Cannabis
The two primary components of cannabis are CBD and THC. THC is the psychoactive part of the plant, while CBD has no psychoactive effects.
CBD has been shown to have incredible benefits, specifically in reducing anxiety, insomnia, nausea, pain, inflammation, and even seizures. The dosage required to reap these benefits varies by the person and the severity of the symptoms, and the CBD can be administered orally or topically.
Benefits of Hemp
The health benefits of hemp are innumerous on their own. For instance, the seeds, or hearts, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber. They can help improve heart health, energy levels, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol – among many other things. Not to mention, the hearts taste pretty great and are easy to incorporate into your diet. They make great toppers for most foods, like your morning bowl of oatmeal, smoothie bowls and yogurt, salads, avocado toast, pasta, wherever.
Beyond that, hemp’s benefits extend to sustainability efforts. Because the hemp plant is so fibrous, it has been used as material to make fabric for clothing and bags, and it’s even been made into bricks to use in construction.
Additionally, hemp can be beneficial in the plastics industry. Currently, plastic is one of the primary causes of pollution on the planet as it never really breaks down. Also, it is petroleum based. Plastics made from hemp are 100% biodegradable and their production uses far less energy than producing plastics from petroleum.
Something else on the horizon with hemp – it may prove useful in alleviating flooding in flood-prone areas, such as Houston. By growing the hemp plant in wet areas, the plant can help absorb some of the excess water, while also absorbing some harsh chemicals that might be found in the water.
So, without overselling it, the cannabis plant is kind of remarkable. With all of its benefits and applications, it’s sure to make an impact on a much larger scale than it already has.
By Yasmin Khan