Medical marijuana South Africa

Cannabis strains

When you start researching cannabis, you will discover since the 1970s that cannabis has been divided into three sub-species, Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Ruderalis and then there are also hybrids – a result of careful crossbreeding.  Most strains today are of the hybrid type and anything with Ruderalis in it will be referred to as an auto flowering strain, meaning it will produce flowers after a given time period regardless of light exposure. Generally speaking Indicas are more relaxing and Sativas more stimulating.

An easy way to tell the two species apart is by appearance. Indica plants have wider leaves and are shorter trees, making them suitable for growing indoors. Sativa plants are tall with long, narrow leaves. They are usually grown outdoors.

Then their effects are commonly known as:


  • uplifting, energising and stimulating
  • cerebral, spacey or hallucinogenic
  • best suited for day use


  • relaxing, calming and sedating
  • body buzz or ‘couch lock’
  • best suited for night use

Both indica and sativa are popular for treating medical conditions but different strains are chosen for different symptom management. Expert product formulators have the experience to know which combinations work best for what condition.

cannabis oil sativa leaves

Understanding cannabinoids

Cannabis is a healing plant with many proven benefits. Used with expert guidance, it is a completely natural and safe remedy for a wide range of conditions. In your research, you will come across the term ‘cannabinoids’. You may also read about terms such as THC and CBD, which are types of cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds in cannabis flowers (the plant) which imitate compounds that our bodies produce naturally, called endocannabinoids – read more about the endocannaboid system here. These compounds, if activated, maintain internal stability and health; in other words, they help with the communication between cells. When there is a problem in our endocannabinoid system, then you will experience unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, pain and depression.

Types of cannabinoids
All classes derive from cannabigerol-type compounds and differ mainly in the way this precursor is cyclised. The classical cannabinoids are derived from their respective 2-carboxylic acids (2-COOH) by decarboxylation (catalyzed by heat, light, or alkaline conditions).

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC, THC) and delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), mimic the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body.

These two THCs produce the effects associated with cannabis by binding to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. THC appears to ease moderate pain (analgesic) and to be neuroprotective, while also offering the potential to reduce neuro inflammation and to stimulate neurogenesis. THC has approximately equal affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Cannabidiol (CBD)
Cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive, and was thought not to affect the psychoactivity of THC. However, recent evidence shows that smokers of cannabis with a higher CBD/THC ratio were less likely to experience schizophrenia-like symptoms.

Cannabidiol has little affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors but acts as an indirect antagonist of cannabinoid agonists. Recently it was found to be an antagonist at the putative new cannabinoid receptor, GPR55, a GPCR expressed in the caudate nucleus and putamen. Cannabidiol has also been shown to act as a 5-HT1A receptor agonist. It appears to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea.  CBD has a greater affinity for the CB2 receptor than for the CB1 receptor.

CBD shares a precursor with THC and is the main cannabinoid in low-THC Cannabis strains. CBD apparently plays a role in preventing the short-term memory loss associated with THC in mammals.

Some research suggests that the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol potentially represent a novel mech- anism in the treatment of schizophrenia. Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center discovered CBD’s ability to ‘turn off’ the activity of ID1, the gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other types of cancers, including the particularly aggressive triple negative breast cancer.

Cannabinol (CBN)
Cannabinol (CBN) is the primary product of  THC degradation, and there is usually little of it in a fresh plant. CBN content increases as THC degrades in storage, and with exposure to light and air. It is only mildly psychoactive. Its affinity to the CB2 receptor is higher than for the CB1 receptor.

Cannabigerol (CBG)
Cannabigerol (CBG) is non-psychotomimetic but still affects the overall effects of cannabis. It acts as an α2-adrenergic receptor agonist, 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, and CB1 receptor antagonist. It also binds to the CB2 receptor.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is prevalent in certain central Asian and southern African strains of cannabis. It is an antagonist of THC at CB1 receptors and attenuates the psychoactive effects of THC.

Cannabidivarin (CBCV)
Although Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is usually a minor constituent of the cannabinoid profile, enhanced levels of CBDV have been reported in feral cannabis plants from the northwest Himalayas, and in hashish from Nepal.

Cannabichromene (CBC)
Cannabichromene (CBC) is non-psychoactive and does not affect the psychoactivity of THC. More common in tropical cannabis varieties. Effects include anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

Medicinal properties of cannabinoids
Descriptions of cannabinoids

This table matches each cannabinoid with the medical value that it has.
Click to enlarge.

This wheel will help you work out which cannabinoids are best at treating which symptoms, e.g. eating/gastrointestinal disorders, pain, sleep disorders, and more. Click to enlarge.

All about terpenes

The aroma of cannabis is known to sooth the mind and body. This is known as terpenes – the pungent oils that give cannabis varieties their distinctive flavours such as berry, mint or pine. Until recently, medical research on cannabis has mostly centred around cannabinoids. However, terpenes are believed to be the next frontier in medical marijuana.

The ‘entourage effect’
Terpenes have been shown to block some cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain while promoting cannabinoid binding in others. As a result, terpenes are believed to affect many aspects of how the brain takes in THC or CBD, while offering various therapeutic benefits of their own. This synergy of effects is known as the ‘entourage effect.’

The most commons cannabis terpenes are: 

Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Pinene
Effects: Alertness, memory retention, counteracts some THC effects
Medical Value: Asthma, antiseptic

Musky, cloves, earthy, herbal with notes of citrus and tropical fruit
Effects: Sedating “couchlock effect, relaxing
Medical Value: Antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic; good for muscle tension, sleeplessness, pain, inflammation, depression

Effects: Elevated mood, stress relief
Medical Value: Antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, dissolves gallstones, mood-enhancer; may treat gastrointestinal complications, heartburn, depression

Pepper, spicy, woody, cloves
Effects: No detectable physical effects
Medical Value: Gastroprotective, anti-inflammatory; good for arthritis, ulcers, autoimmune disorders, and other gastrointestinal complications

Floral, citrus, candy
Effects: Anxiety relief and sedation
Medical Value: Anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-acne

Terpenes in medical marijuana

Cannabis and the human body

Human endocannabinoid systemThe endogenous cannabinoid system
The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.

Cannabinoids promote homeostasis at every level of biological life
From the sub-cellular, to the organism, and perhaps to the community and beyond. Here’s one example: autophagy, a process in which a cell sequesters part of its contents to be self-digested and recycled, is mediated by the cannabinoid system.

Medical marijuana cannabinoidsWhile this process keeps normal cells alive, allowing them to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation, and subsequent recycling of cellular products, it has a deadly effect on malignant tumour cells, causing them to consume themselves in a programmed cellular suicide. The death of cancer cells, of course, promotes homeostasis and survival at the level of the entire organism.

Cannabinoid receptors
Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the body, embedded in cell membranes, and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system. When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes ensue. Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures.

Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different action. Researchers speculate there may be a third cannabinoid receptor waiting to be discovered. Endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally make to stimulate these receptors. The two most well understood of these molecules are called anandamide and 2-arachi-donoylglycerol (2-AG). They are synthesised on-demand from cell membrane arachidonic acid derivatives, have a local effect and short half-life before being degraded by the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and mono-acylglycerol lipase (MAGL).

Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-tet- rahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most famous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the interest of researchers due to a variety of healing properties. Most phytocannabinoids have  been  isolated from cannabis sativa, but other medical herbs have been found to also contain non-psychoactive cannabi- noids.

Laboratories can also produce cannabinoids. Synthetic THC, marketed as dronabinol (Marinol), and nabilone (Cesamet), a THC analog, are both approved drugs for the treatment of  severe nausea and wasting syndrome. Many other synthetic cannabinoids are used in animal research, and some have potency up to 600 times that of THC.

Medical conditions and cannabis

Medical marijuana is a popular complimentary medicine for many ailments. Here we overview a general list that can be treated with medical marijuana. Please note: Medical Cannabis Dispensary does not intend to give this as professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self diagnose, or prescribe treatment based on the information provided in this page. Always consult your doctor before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition. You can view a full list of medical conditions that may benefit from cannabis treatment here.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also more widely known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that causes it’s carrier’s loss of muscle control and coordination along the spinal cord, brain stem and motor cortex. Although there is no cure for this debilitating illness, medical marijuana can be used to help alieviate the symptoms of the disease, including: loss of appetite and chronic pain caused by muscle spasms and/or stiffness. Read more here.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a disease that affects over 35 million people worldwide. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, which gets worse as it progresses and eventually leads to death. Numerous studies have suggested that marijuana may be effective in inhibiting the progression of this disease through a variety of biological mechanisms. Read more here.

Arthritis is a joint disorder that can affect anyone of any age, but is most common amongst senior citizens. This inflammation of the joints is often accompanied by severe pain. Numerous studies have provided overwhelming evidence of medical marijuana’s ability to reduce joint inflammation and related pain symptoms. Read more here.

Cannabis oil cancer treatmentCancer
Cancer refers to a group of diseases characterised by abnormal cell growth (known as tumors). Many doctors will prescribe the use of marijuana as an aid to not only help combat the disease itself but also to help mollify the effects of chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy has been known to produce many side effects that can be hard on the patient, including: vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite. Medical marijuana has been known to help reduce the feeling of nausea and vomiting while increasing appetite, which helps fight cancer treatment-related anorexia. Studies have also shown a positive effect in regards to inhibiting tumor growth in leukemia and breast cancer as well as the invasion of cervical cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer and lung cancer cells. Read more here, and find out more about the ideal diet to follow here.

Recommended supplements for cancer sufferers:

  • Liposomal Vitamin C
  • Curcumin
  • Emu oil
  • Sutherlandia
  • Lemon Grass Tea
  • High quality fish oil /Krill oil

Depression is a condition known by a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Depression is thought to be caused by low levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. Typical treatments include councelling and antidepressant medications that act to increase levels of neurotransmitters. THC has been found (under certain conditions) to exert antidepressant-like effects in patients suffering from pain associated with cancer and multiple sclerosis as well as improve mood and general well-being in healthy test subjects. Read more here.

Epilepsy causes frequent and unpredictable seizures that cannot be cured. Long-term drug therapy can help most patients control their seizures but not all. Studies suggest a role of the endocannabinoid system in seizure activity and seem to support the use of cannabis as an alternative to traditional drugs. Read more here.

Glaucoma is considered the leading source of blindness in the world and is caused by the degeneration of the optic nerve. The leading cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma patients is intracocular pressure (IOP). Studies have shown that the use of medical marijuana can not only help stop the damage caused by IOP but can also help reverse deterioration of the optic nerve. The combination of medical marijuana with traditional glaucoma medication is widely accepted as a positive and effective treatment method. Read more here.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) occurs when the cells in the bloodstream that make up the immune system become compromised and multiple. The disease attacks the immune system allowing  for a person to contract a variety of opportunistic infections. Although there is no cure for HIV yet, there have been many treatment regimens that help decrease the viral-load within the inflicted’s bloodstream and help prevent the virus from reproducing. However, many of these treatments can cause some harsh negative side effects. Medical marijuana is effective in treating the symptoms caused by many HIV medications, including: nausea, lack of appetite, nerve pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Read more here.

Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is disorder that directly effects an individual’s central nervous system and in turn causes deterioration with the individual’s vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. Although the symptoms of MS vary from person to person, one of the most frequent symptoms is muscle spasticity, a symptom that causes intense pain, spasms and eventually complete loss of functionality. The use of medical marijuana within MS patients has been known to reduce the muscle stiffness and tremors, allowing from better mobility. Marijuana can also help increase the individual’s balance, bladder control, speech and eyesight. Read more here.

Pain relief
Many patients suffering from chronic or neuropathic pain gain relief from prescription drugs but not all. One of the most common uses of medical marijuana is for the treatment of chronic pain. Cannabinoids – the medical compounds found in marijuana – have powerful pain-relieving (analgesic) properties. Cannabinoids exert their analgesic properties through their interaction with the cannabinoid receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system. Read more here.

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system caused by progressive death of dopamine cells. Major symptoms of this disorder include motor impairments – such as shaking, tremors, slow movement and difficulty with walking – as well as symptoms of dementia, sensory dysfunction, sleep disorders, emotional problems and neuropathic pain. While dopamine replacement therapies seem to be effective in reducing overall symptoms, treatments that slow the progression of the dopamine cell death have yet to be developed. Researchers have begun to investigate compounds that may be able to protect neurons from death, leading them to take a closer look at medical marijuana. Read more here.

Spinal cord disease and injury
Individuals who suffer from a spinal cord disease or injury are often at the mercy of their symptoms. As the spinal cord is the tether that holds together the human body’s central nervous system, many people who are afflicted with an SCD or SCI experience intense pain and muscle spasming and/or stiffness. Medical marijuana can be used to help alliviate muscle twitching, jerking and spasticity by switching on the nerve receptors in the central nervous system that help to aid in muscle spasm. Cannabis can also be used as a natural pain killer and anti-inflammatory in cases with intense chronic pain as well as an appetite stimulant and sleep aid.

The right diet

Ketogenic diet and alkaline dietAs with any medication or lifestyle choice, you should take a holistic approach to your health. Cannabis oil products – in particular for cancer sufferers – works best when used in conjunction with a ketogenic diet or at the very least an alkaline diets with absolutely no sugar. We recommend that you consult a nutritionist for a tailormade eating plan.

A ketogenic diet is believed capable of starving cancer cells to death, and thus capable of restricting tumour development. A more alkaline body makes it difficult for tumours to grow. Please consult a nutritionist for an informed eating plan.

Ketogenic diet
This diet is high in fat, supplies adequate protein and is low in carbohydrates. This combination changes the way energy is used in the body. Fat is converted in the liver into fatty acids and ketone bodies. Another effect of the diet is that it lowers glucose levels and improves insulin resistance. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the occurrence of epileptic seizures.

Alkaline diet
Cancer cells thrive in an overly acidic environment. By taking action to become more alkaline, you can make it more difficult for cancer cells to regenerate. Eating an alkaline balanced diet is the key to staying healthy. Understanding the pH of the foods that you eat is relative to the state of your body’s health.