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Cannabis Sativa and Indica Side Effects of Use

Marijuana is the psychoactive drug derived from this plant, containing the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Different strains of cannabis include sativa and indica.

While marijuana remains federally illegal and designated as a Schedule I controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), cannabis is a big business in the United States. Many states have legalized its medicinal, and even its recreational, use at the local level.

Strains of Cannabis

Cannabis plants are bred and genetically engineered into different strains. Two of the most talked about strains are cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.

While there are many claims of these two plants being completely different strains of cannabis, with a different look and different effects, most scientists and experts agree that they likely just contain a different chemical makeup.

It is near impossible to know exactly what you are buying or taking and how it might impact you, but there are some things to be aware of. Looking at the chemical composition of cannabis can help you determine its potential effects.

There are some differences between those labeled sativa and those marked indica.

Cannabis Explained

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cannabis ranks as the most used, abused, trafficked, and cultivated illicit drug around the globe. About 2.5 percent of the global population consume cannabis every year.

In the United States, 24 million Americans were current users of marijuana at the time of the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Cannabis is widely used and distributed. It is sold all over the world in a variety of settings and in a range of products.

Marijuana (derived from the cannabis plant’s stems, seeds, and leaves) is a dried form of cannabis that is generally smoked or ingested for a pleasurable high. This is due to the THC, or psychoactive, component of the drug.

Typically, the higher the level of THC, the more potent the strain and the more mind-altering the effects will be.

The Debate Over Sativa & Indica

There are thousands of different strains and types of cannabis on the market. Consumers are often looking for either sativa or indica, depending on what the desired impact is.

Cannabis sativa plants are tall with narrow thin leaves, while the indica strain plants are short with broader leaves. Aside from just looks, these plants are said to have different effects.

Cannabis sativa:

  • Gives you energy.
  • Enhances mood and makes you feel happy.
  • Makes you more social.
  • Lowers inhibitions.

Cannabis indica:

  • Has a sedating effect.
  • Makes you feel more mellow and calm.
  • Helps to relieve stress.
  • Works for pain relief.

Researchers tend to agree that the breakdown of these cannabis strains is not entirely accurate. The main difference between different makeups of cannabis product lies in their chemical makeup.

At a dispensary, the indica versus sativa distinction may tell you what the desired and likely effects of the product will be, but this is not necessarily based on the plant itself. It is more likely due to the level of THC in the plant and other biochemical components.

If a cannabis product tells you it is indica, or indica-like, it is likely intended to be more mellowing and sedating. Something labeled as sativa, or sativa-like, is likely to be more energizing and intoxicating.

Possible Impact of Cannabis Use

The higher the level of THC, the more intoxicating a cannabis product is likely to be and the greater its psychoactive properties. This is true whether or not the product you are ingesting is sativa or indica.

Cannabis use can impair your mental and cognitive functions as well as your motor skills. Possible side effects of use include the following:

  • Lowered inhibitions and likely to engage in more risk-taking behaviors
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Memory issues
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Distorted perception and sense of time
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Sedation and sluggishness
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased motivation
  • Increased sociability

It can also be difficult to know exactly what kind of cannabis you are really taking — what’s in it and how it is going to impact you and your body. Just because the “experts” tell you that this particular strain is going to pump you up instead of making you tired, this doesn’t mean it will happen to you. Cannabis and different cannabis products will interact in each person’s body differently, and it can be hard to predict exactly what will happen.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns that marijuana use can be addictive. Nearly a third of those who use the drug struggle with a marijuana use disorder at some point.

CBD as an Alternative to Cannabis

Cannabis products are often heralded for their potential medicinal properties. They are frequently used to relieve anxiety, reduce pain, boost appetite, and combat nausea.

One of the other components of cannabis is CBD (cannabidiol), which is considered to more medicinal than intoxicating. When CBD amounts are higher than THC amounts, the effects of the drug are likely to be less mind-altering and more pharmacological.

Products that contain CBD as opposed to THC are not as likely to be intoxicating or have as many possible psychoactive side effects. CBD lotions and oils can be used for pain relief, and CBD on its own is not going to get you high.

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CBD is often used for medicinal purposes to treat the following issues:

  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Inflammation
  • Migraines
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis

There are far fewer side effects associated with CBD than with cannabis products that contain higher amounts of THC.

Cannabis & Addiction

In 2017, a quarter of a million people in the United States were admitted to public substance abuse treatment facilities citing marijuana as their primary drug of abuse. Marijuana is a form of cannabis.

Cannabis, especially products high in THC, is a mind-altering substance that is considered to be addictive. With regular use, your brain and body can get used to cannabis and become dependent on it. You will need to use more of it to feel the same high (drug tolerance). It can become harder for you to stop using it, even if you want to and try to quit. This is addiction.

Regular and repeated cannabis use can lead to drug dependence, which is a physical reaction. When the drug is no longer active in your bloodstream, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Cannabis withdrawal symptoms can include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Appetite changes
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep issues
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Thinking, concentration, and memory problems

With chronic use, both cannabis sativa and cannabis indica can lead to drug dependence and addiction.

Rehab for Cannabis

Addiction is a behavioral brain disease that changes the way you think, feel, and act. Rehab can help to address the negative changes and teach you how to cope with life without turning to cannabis.

Your brain pathways can be rebuilt through behavioral therapies. In counseling, you can learn how to create and use coping strategies to manage cravings. You’ll learn how to build a positive support network that can help you to stay sober for the long term.

Though cannabis is often viewed through a benign lens, it can lead to serious problems if you are struggling with ongoing abuse and addiction. Reach out for help today.

All About Hemp Seeds — A Nutritionally Dense Superfood

Hemp seeds are a nutritional dark horse in the world of seeds. While they’re packed with healthy nutrients and can contribute flavor and texture to dozens of different dishes, most people don’t view them as a pantry staple. This article aims to change that!

When you think of hemp and hemp seeds, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, it’s marijuana. But the truth is, hemp — unlike its close cousin, marijuana — can’t get you high. It lacks sufficient THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol), the active, natural compound found in the cannabis plant that produces the dominant psychoactive effects of marijuana.

While not a consciousness altering drug, hemp more than makes up for it through its sheer usefulness. Various parts of the plant are used as material for fibers, textiles, paper, insulation, cosmetic products, biodegradable plastics, food, and beverages. And it’s been an important global crop for a long time. Even the US Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper!

Until the Farm Bill of 2018, it was illegal to grow hemp in the United States, so most hemp seed and related hemp products were imported from Canada and other countries. As of today, cultivating hemp is legal in all US states and Canada, with the exception of Idaho, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia (Washington DC).

Hemp seeds may not be as popular as flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, but as you’ll learn below, they’re tremendously healthy and full of nutrition. And they’re darn tasty, too!

What is Hemp?

Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a plant grown in the northern hemisphere, best known for its thin, somewhat spiky, green leaves (usually around seven that fan out around the end of each stem). It takes approximately three to four months to mature before harvesting. And it is a dioecious plant, which is a decidedly nerdy way of saying that there are both male and female hemp plants. And they need each other for the female to set seed.

Hemp has a wide variety of uses. You can use the whole plant, including the fiber (from its stems), protein (from its seeds), and oils and smokable portions (from the leaves and flowers). Smokable hemp is a new addition to the CBD industry, as the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant are rich in non-psychoactive cannabidiol, a compound which has many therapeutic properties.

Hemp seeds are small with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and are technically nuts. While the terms are often used interchangeably, hemp “hearts” are hemp seeds that have had their shell removed, so they’re easier to consume. Hemp hearts are round and have a whitish-green hue with a black center.

Hemp is environmentally friendly, too. It grows in a variety of climates and types of soil, which is possible because of its hardiness. Hemp is resistant to drought and damage from UV rays, as well as most pests. It’s happy to grow tightly packed together, which allows it to shade out and outcompete most weeds. That means there’s no point in using chemical pesticides on most hemp crops. It’s also a natural substitute for cotton and wood fiber, both of which take a heavy toll on the environment. Hemp has a low lignin content, which allows it to be pulped using fewer chemicals than wood. And a fully mature hemp plant may contain half of its dry weight in seed, which is an impressively high yield.

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Is Hemp the Same as Marijuana?

Hemp was a prominent crop in the United States until 1937, when the Marihuana Tax Act (and no, that isn’t a misspelling; historically, the H or a J spellings are used interchangeably in US legislature) virtually destroyed the industry in North America. This was based on an erroneous fear that industrial hemp was the same as marijuana. The economic, environmental, and humanitarian damage wrought over those years are profoundly tragic.

While hemp is part of the same family as marijuana — Cannabis sativa — it’s not the same as marijuana. To clarify, both hemp and marijuana are cannabis, but they differ in their THC content. In the United States and many other nations, marijuana is still a federally-controlled substance, though many states are loosening restrictions on its possession and use. This is, in large part, due to documented value for medical uses in alleviating pain, nausea, and anxiety. Hemp has significantly lower THC levels and doesn’t have the same psychoactive effect that marijuana does. In other words, you won’t get high from consuming hemp or using hemp products.

While it’s still illegal for individuals to grow or possess marijuana in most US states, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substance Act and recategorized it as an agricultural product, as it was prior to 1937. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp under certain restrictions, like not having a delta-9 THC concentration of over 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Marijuana, on the other hand, has a much wider range of THC content, as high as 23%. But to be legally classified in the same boat as marijuana, hemp has to have a THC concentration of over 0.3%.

Hemp Seeds Nutritional Makeup

Hemp seeds are very nutrient-dense. Just three tablespoons of hemp seeds, weighing in at 30 grams, offers the following nutritional composition:

  • 170 calories
  • 9 grams protein
  • 15 grams fat
  • 3 grams total carbohydrates
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 14 mg calcium
  • 2 mg iron
  • 215 mg magnesium
  • 290 mg phosphorus
  • 360 mg potassium
  • 4 mg zinc

Hemp seeds also contain some vitamin A, B, C, and E, unsaturated fatty acids (ranging from a healthy 2:1 to 3:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio), essential amino acids, and phytochemicals.

6 Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Unfortunately, there’s very little scientific research available on the benefits of hemp seeds because of the history of its legal status, and the confusion around that. However, we do know that hemp seeds can be:

Good for Digestion

A three tablespoon serving of hemp seeds provides one gram of dietary fiber. Fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. Why does this matter? Evidence shows that much of our overall health outcomes, including immune function, starts in the gut. Fiber also helps prevent and alleviate constipation, promoting bowel regularity.

Helpful in Lowering Risk for Chronic Disease

Hemp seeds are rich in antioxidants — compounds that fight the free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress and, ultimately, chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and dementia. Oxidative stress also speeds the aging process.

Protective Against Neurodegenerative Disease

It’s unfortunately common for many people to experience cognitive breakdown as part of the aging process, but evidence shows that dietary factors may slow or help prevent this development. Two animal studies found that hemp seeds had a protective effect against cognitive decline and brain inflammation. This is likely related to the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found naturally in hemp.

Good for Your Heart

Incorporating hemp seeds into your diet may benefit your heart health. Studies show that PUFA-rich hemp can help prevent arterial blockages by lowering cholesterol levels, protecting the heart after a cardiac event, and lowering high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Beneficial for Your Skin

Some studies indicate that topical application of hemp oil may improve certain skin conditions. Hemp seed oil has been useful in treating eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne rosacea, as well as cradle cap in babies. Researchers think this is because hemp oil improves the strength of the skin as well as its resistance to bacteria, fungi, and viruses that can cause irritation and infection.

A Good Source of Plant-Based Protein

With nine grams of protein in just three tablespoons, hemp hearts are a tasty way to boost your plant-based protein intake. Studies show that a diet rich in plant-derived protein can protect against chronic degenerative diseases, as compared to animal-derived protein, which can cause chronic degenerative diseases.

Side Effects of Hemp Seeds

While hemp seeds offer numerous health benefits, there are also a few things to consider if you’re adding them to your diet for the first time.

Some people complain of diarrhea or upset stomach when first consuming hemp seeds. If you have that experience, try a smaller amount to begin with and see how that works for you.

It’s also possible that hemp seeds could interact with certain drugs. They’re known to inhibit platelet formation, preventing blood clots, which could potentiate anticoagulant medications like warfarin. Hemp seeds and diuretics can both lead to a loss of potassium, so taking diuretics and hemp together could lead to dangerously low potassium levels, which could adversely affect your heart. Lastly, hemp may naturally contain compounds that slow the heartbeat, which could interfere with medications used to treat irregular heart rhythm, like digoxin and other cardiac glycosides. As with any new dietary change, it’s a good idea to speak with your health care provider regarding any potential concerns regarding medications.

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How to Store Hemp Seeds

To help your hemp seeds stay fresh for as long as possible, make sure you store them properly. Unopened, you can store them in the pantry. However, I’ve found that it’s even better to store them in the fridge or freezer if you aren’t planning to eat them within a few months. The cool temperature helps to preserve their natural oils and keep them from going rancid.

Once you’ve opened the bag, hemp seeds should go in the fridge or freezer regardless. If they didn’t come in a resealable container, transfer them to an airtight glass container to extend shelf life. After they’ve been opened, you can expect hemp seeds to last for about a year if kept in the fridge or freezer. But as you’ll see, they’re so good and versatile, you won’t have to worry about their freezer shelf life.

How to Eat Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds add crunch and nutrition to just about any dish. They get along with everyone. You can sprinkle them over almost anything, and they’ll taste good — whether it’s oatmeal, plant-based yogurts, salads, casseroles, or enchiladas. They blend well into smoothies or on top of smoothie bowls. I’ve even added them to baked goods, like muffins, or topped pancakes and waffles with them. And if you’re gluten-free, you can use hemp seeds in place of breadcrumbs in many recipes.

Hemp Seed Products

Whole hemp seeds or hemp hearts are the most nutritious ways to eat hemp, but there are also hemp seed products that can work for various things. For instance, hemp milk — made from hulled hemp seeds and water — can be found in most plant-based milk sections. Choose unsweetened varieties whenever available, as many commercial hemp milks are highly sweetened and may have flavorings added to them. Or with a good blender or plant milk maker like the Almond Cow, you can make your own at home.

Hemp granola is popular in the breakfast aisle, though as with all packaged cereals, watch out for excess sugar. Hemp oil contains an assortment of fatty acids and beneficial bioactive compounds, but as with all bottled oils, it’s a refined product. There are also protein powders made from hemp seeds. Hemp is a good source of plant-based protein, and makes a fine base for performance powders. But instead of extracting the oil and the protein out of hemp and selling them separately, why not eat the full seed to get the healthy fats, protein, fiber, and other nutrients they contain all together, as nature intended?

Preparing Hemp Seeds

If you end up buying whole (unshelled) hemp seeds, there are a couple of things you can do to prepare them for eating. One option is to toast them over dry heat. To do this, spread the seeds in a skillet and heat over medium temperature for approximately two minutes, shaking or stirring them regularly. Alternatively, you can remove the hemp seed shells yourself. Do this by laying them on a flat surface, covering with a towel, and running a rolling pin over the seeds to crush them. Scoop the seeds into a pot of water, give them a stir, and allow the shells to float to the top where you can skim them off and remove them, leaving the hemp hearts.

Recipes Using Hemp Seeds & Related Hemp Products

Hemp is a mild, highly versatile food that takes on a number of flavors. Here are a few recipes you might enjoy that use hemp and hemp-derived ingredients.

1. Balsamic Dijon Hemp Vinaigrette

Creamy, delicious, AND nutritious, hemp seeds lend to a rich texture — not to mention they’re packed with plant-based protein and minerals like zinc and iron. Pour this dressing on salads, use it in grain bowls, include it in a lettuce wrap, or add it to a sandwich. It’s delicious nutrition in a bottle!

2. Cacao Banana Sprout Smoothie

Do you love smoothies as a natural way to boost your plant-based protein intake, but don’t love protein powder that often accompanies smoothie recipes? Then, you’re in luck! Hemp seeds not only offer essential minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc, but they’re a tasty way to boost protein in a smoothie. By adding whole hemp seeds in place of processed powders, you’ll optimize nutrition without sacrificing the extra protein.

3. Garlicky Cheesy Hemp Seed Spread

Who knew hemp seed could easily create a tasty and rich, plant-based “cheese”? This spread uses only five nutritious ingredients and requires no soaking or baking. The nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy taste, the miso lends an umami flavor, and hemp offers a sweet, nutty essence. The nutrition analysis for this cheesy topper is pretty impressive too, including being a good source of B vitamins, zinc, iron, and selenium. It also has five grams of fiber per two tablespoon serving!

At the Heart of the Hemp Seed

Hemp seeds are highly nutritious and may have a number of health benefits. Plus, they’re a long-lasting kitchen staple that can be used in just about any healthy recipe. Now that hemp is legal to grow again, hopefully more health researchers will dive in to tell us more about the benefits of the wonderful, versatile hemp seed.