Phillip Hague, the chief horticulturist at a Denver cannabis company called Mindful, sniffs the roots of a plant to check on their health. He’s grown cannabis most of his life and has traveled the world researching its many varieties. He’s interested in developing new strains with higher concentrations of marijuana’s lesser known compounds that appear to have medical uses. “Cannabis speaks to me,” he says.
Still, for many, cannabis has become a tonic to dull pain, aid sleep, stimulate appetite, buffer life’s thumps and shocks. Pot’s champions say it peels back layers of stress. It’s also thought to be useful as, among other things, an analgesic, an antiemetic, a bronchodilator, and an anti-inflammatory. It’s even been found to help cure a bad case of the hiccups. Compounds in the plant, some scientists contend, may help the body regulate vital functions—such as protecting the brain against trauma, boosting the immune system, and aiding in “memory extinction” after catastrophic events.
“The week before we tried it, we had 64 seizures,” Penny told me, noting those were only the visible seizures, while unseen neurological events would likely push the number into the hundreds. “We administered hemp oil, and the next week we logged in 28 seizures. ... The very next week, her second week on the hemp oil, we logged none.” Penny paused and repeated herself, as though she could still only half believe the miracle: “None.”
Both varieties contain CBD and THC (albeit at different levels), which are the two primary compounds in the Cannabis sativa plant. The Cannabis plant is also very diverse, as it can grow in many different forms. The most common types are Sativa and Indica, but there are more, with each type having dozens – if not hundreds – of different adaptations and different ratios of active compounds, also known as cannabinoids.
 M. H. N. Chagas, A. L. Eckeli, A. W. Zuardi, M. A. Pena-Pereira, M. A. Sobreira-Neto, E. T. Sobreira, M. R. Camilo, M. M. Bergamaschi, C. H. Schenck, J. E. C. Hallak, V. Tumas, and J. A. S. Crippa, “Cannabidiol Can Improve Complex Sleep-Related Behaviours Associated with Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder in Parkinson’s Disease Patients: A Case Series,” Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 39 (2014): 564–566. doi:10.1111/jcpt.12179.
CBD may help reduces REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, during REM, the body is largely paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. Cannabis may also work to reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease.
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