Thinking about trying cannabis medicine but don’t feel like you know enough about it? And maybe neither does your doctor? We get it. You need confidence in order to take the leap with something that will affect your health. Well, get ready to get woke about cannabis medicine! Elevate Holistics’ Russell Colby recently chatted live on Facebook with an actual cannabis pharmacist (yes, they do exist!), and she shared some valuable need-to-know info for patients who use cannabis as medicine. In this post, our expert explains what cannabis is and how it works in your body.
About Kelsey Schwander
Kelsey Schwander is a Doctor of Pharmacy originally from Denver, Colorado, who has been practicing in St. Louis, Missouri for the last three years. Through her company,
BHealth Consulting, she meets one-to-one with patients in a doctor’s office. In her work, she helps patients and doctors understand the overall picture of their medications and supplements and how they work and interact with cannabis. Additionally, she is also a professor at a pharmacy school—helping to fill the gap of medical cannabis experts in the healthcare field!
What Is Cannabis? (How a Pharmacist Explains It)
To kick off the interview, Russell asks Kelsey what exactly cannabis is.
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BHealth Consulting): I always explain that cannabis is an umbrella term. It involves CBD and THC—where I feel “marijuana” used to be the word. I was actually listening to a podcast last week, and someone used the word marijuana, and the physician on there was like, “Oh no, no, we don’t use that word anymore because it has a bad connotation,” which I thought was interesting and funny.
So cannabis is the new word, the new sexy term. But I would say that when we’re actually talking about cannabis, it’s referring to the plant, the flowering plant, and we know that the plant has over 400 compounds in it and we’re still discovering what they do in the body.
The ones that we are most familiar with, especially from a medical standpoint, are the cannabinoids. So of these cannabinoids, the two biggest ones that everyone talks about are THC and CBD. THC is the tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s responsible for the psychoactive side effects or the high feeling—we’ll get into that later. And then CBD, which is cannabidiol, because of the farm bill, you can get CBD at the grocery store, at the gas station, everywhere now. But those are the big points of the different types of cannabinoids. And like I said, CBD and THC are really what we’ll focus on because we have more evidence in how it can help medically.
How Do THC and CBD Work in the Body?
Next, Russell asks the cannabis pharmacist, “Can you tell us how does THC and CBD work in the body explain the kind of receptors, how these are transported?”
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BHealth Consulting): So we have the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our body. When I first introduce this to people, I always tell patients, providers, and businesses, think about it like any other system in our body—the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, it’s another system.
A lot of providers say, “Hey, Dr. Schwander, why haven’t we heard about this before?” And the reason being is it was discovered in 1992, which isn’t that long ago. We’ve known about the nervous system and other systems in our body for a really long time. And so we’re still just discovering a lot about it. So it’s just a biological system, and we have neurotransmitters for endocannabinoids (cannabinoids that are made by our body) that bind to two main receptors that we’ll talk about. There’s the CB1 receptor, and then there’s the CB2 receptor.
Cannabinoid Receptors (Where Cannabinoids Dock)
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BHealth Consulting): So the CB1 receptor is mostly found in our brain and our spinal cord, and THC binds to CB1 receptors. If you think about what the side effects are—what THC does—and think where the receptors are located, it makes sense. So it helps with pain, the psychoactive effects of the high feeling, because a lot of receptors are in our brain.
CBD binds to the CB2 receptors. So CB2 receptors are located on a lot of our immune cells. That’s why we’re finding that CBD is really good for anti-inflammatory effects and things like that.
The ECS and Cannabinoids Restore Balance
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BHealth Consulting): Those are the two main areas if we want to break it down. And the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is really responsible for homeostasis in our body, the balance in our body. And so when something’s off, like in any disease state, we have things that we want to put it back into balance. And so that’s how we’ve found that THC and CBD is helping put it back in balance.
Elevate Holistics for Access to Cannabis Knowledge
Knowledge and understanding are the great connectors that keep us from being divided from that which could greatly benefit us. This is why Elevate Holistics believes in being a part of the cannabis community. Feel free to join our Facebook group where you will find regular interviews with industry experts, visits to dispensaries, and cannabis advocates of all sorts who believe in patient access to medical marijuana.
And check out our website for additional services like pharmacist consultations. Some of these are free add-ons when you book an appointment for your medical marijuana card or renewal. As always, if you have any questions—reach out! We’re here to make your cannabis experience safe, easy, and as beneficial as possible. Cheers!