The idea that cannabis is used purely to burn brain cells and veg-out is an increasingly archaic trope perpetuated in stoner comedies and red-eye memes. As the legal cannabis industry has grown exponentially over the last twenty years, the millions of dollars poured into research are beginning to change our understanding of how cannabis can benefit people in sickness and in health.
“Virtue is the golden mean between two vices, the one of excess and the other of deficiency.” –– Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
It is not known for sure if Aristotle toked but if he did, you can be sure he did it in moderation. The ancient Greek scholar was a firm believer that the key to true happiness lay in living a balanced life. His ethical philosophy could be said to be built around the concept of the Golden Mean, the middle ground, the happy-medium that allows us to live our best lives by getting baked and keeping fit, and finding new ways of making these seemingly contradictory lifestyles complement each other.
Cannabis As An Exercise Tool
For centuries, marijuana has been used to treat symptoms of some very serious diseases and provide unique relief for others. More recently, we are also beginning to learn more about how cannabis can improve the wellbeing of healthy, active people too. By striking the right balance between the various active ingredients, like cannabinoids and terpenes, cannabis can aid and improve recovery time after exercise and intense workouts.
By utilizing the different cannabinoids –– more appropriately called phytocannabinoids since they are plant-derived –– contained within cannabis and harnessing what is known as the entourage effect, research shows it can do more than relieve pain and aid muscle recovery post-workout. It can also boost concentration and performance before and during exercise.
The over-use of popular pain relievers (such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium) poses potential health risks, and the “epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses” is killing thousands of Americans every year. Cannabis offers athletes and exercisers a safe and natural alternative.
A quick crash course in what cannabinoids are and what the entourage effect is will shed more light on how striking the right balance with the cannabis you use and the exercise you (know you should!) take can improve your life in a more holistic way.
Most people have heard of two of the most prevalent cannabinoids in cannabis –– THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is psychoactive while CBD is not. However, they are not the only cannabinoids in the plant. More than 100 other cannabinoids have been identified, and it is high time we invited some of these guys to the party!
Some of these 100 lesser cannabinoids have already shown some promising health benefits. Cannabinoids such as cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) can have a positive impact on everything from pain, inflammation, serious illness, depression, and even acne, to supporting the homeostatic processes controlled by the endocannabinoid system like mood, sleep, and appetite.
Utilizing the entourage effect is the key to harnessing the full potential of these active, natural chemicals. The entourage effect is the theory that all the compounds in cannabis, including cannabinoids and terpenes, work together, and when taken together as a whole, they are more effective than when just one is taken alone. The entourage effect is tailor-made therapy for the mind and body.
Terpenes are the gorgeous smelling aroma molecules found in cannabis, and like cannabinoids, they are produced within the plant’s trichomes. Terpenes have the capacity to affect much more than just how stinky and sticky marijuana is. Like cannabinoids, different terpenes affect different aspects of the body. Some can combat stress; others give us energy or fight insomnia. For example, the alpha-pinene terpene potentially affects alertness and memory retention. The linalool terpene can be a calming sedative and mood booster.
Striking The Right Balance
Nevertheless, even 2,500 years ago Aristotle realized that we are all different and unique, and what works for one may not push the right buttons for another. It is all about exploring and discovering what works for you and your body.
Most of us know that cannabis is, essentially, good. It is one of nature’s many gifts to an often undeserving mankind. As the science continues to improve and we learn more about how cannabinoid and terpene content translates into effects felt, we can cultivate marijuana’s universal positives and fine-tune them to suit us, as needed, on an individual level.
More and more people are ditching the traditional steroids, opiates, and anti-inflammatory drugs in favor of a more natural, healthy, and effective alternative. Whether our goal is to relieve stress, reduce inflammation, get ripped and run a marathon or get couch-locked with a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s and 52-inch screen, marijuana can help. It’s all about striking the right balance.