There have been many reasons behind the growing clamour for the legalization of marijuana, at least for medical purposes. One of them is the simple fact of marijuana's effectiveness, often at a very attractive price point when compared to products from “Big Pharma”. At a basic level, Sativas with high THC can be seen as strains for the head while Indicas with high CBD can be seen as strains for the body. As so often in life, the situation become more complex as you look into the detail.
First of all, it's important to understand that there are a variety of cannabinoids in cannabis, it just so happens that at this time scientific understanding is that the key cannabinoids are
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and most medical research has been directed at these particular cannabinoids. Up until recently they have tended to be studied in isolation and, perhaps surprisingly, the detailed medical effects indicate that THC is the cannabinoid for the body, offering pain relief, relief from nausea and anti-inflammatory properties, while CBD combats psychosis, seizures and anxiety.
More recently there has been increasing interest in how THC and CBD interact with each other, although, as is so often the case with issues relating to medical marijuana, there is a conspicuous lack of research to back up provisional findings. Studies in this area actually date back to the mid 1970s subjects were given either a dose of THC and CBD combined or THC on its own. The study found that the combination produced a greater feeling of pleasure and reduced anxiety compared to the single dose of THC.
Since that time a smattering of other studies have supported the theory that CBD counterbalances some of the negative effects of THC, for example reducing the feeling of being high (which is not necessarily pleasant to medical users), steadying the heart rate, allowing for better movement and better control of the eyes.
The introduction of Sativex by GW Pharmaceuticals has prompted new research in this area. Sativex is a product with a 1:1 ration of THC:CBD. As part of its creation, researchers studied the effect of THC, CBD and various combinations thereof and found that the 1:1 ratio was the most effective in promoting sleep, relieving pain and reducing muscle spasms.
This area of research is really only starting to receive serious attention from the scientific community and as such it may emerge that different THC:CBD ratios serve different purposes. At the moment, however, while “high-THC” strains have spent a lot of time in the limelight over recent years, medical users may well find it beneficial to investigate the possibilities offered by strains with more balanced THC:CBD ratios or to create blends which offer this balance.