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Cannabis Healing: A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of CBD, THC & Other Cannabinoids


Cannabis Healing: A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of CBD, THC & Other Cannabinoids by Franjo Grotenhermen. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press; 2020. Softcover; 231 pages. ISBN: 978-1-62055-831-7. $19.99.

Franjo Grotenhermen, MD, has been a leading medical cannabis (Cannabis sativa, Cannabaceae) researcher for two decades. He has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, has written or edited 11 cannabis science books, and serves on various scientific review committees. He is the founder and executive director of the highly regarded, clinically focused International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines and is the president of the German Association for Medical Cannabis. His leadership in the space has garnered him high regard among his peers as a leading authority on cannabinoid pharmacology. A practicing family physician in Germany, Grotenhermen has observed how cannabis has impacted his patients. As a result, he is an advocate for safe, legal access to cannabis for anyone who may find therapeutic benefit from its use. This book was originally published in German in 2015 and expanded and revised in French in 2017. This 2020 edition was translated into English by Jack Cain from the expanded French edition.

Cannabis Healing is well organized. It starts with the historical global uses of cannabis, followed by a basic review of plant chemistry with short explanations of how the different chemical components of cannabis interact with the human body, how different ailments may benefit from cannabis use, dosing, intake methods, and precautions. It ends with nutritional information about hemp seed and oil. The appendix offers tips on growing cannabis.

The book covers the effects of cannabis on the different physiological systems of the body and tackles the controversial issues of cannabis addiction (which is uncommon), risk of use during pregnancy, how cannabis use affects fertility, cannabis and children, and the risks of early pre-teen and teen use on brain development (an area of increasing, recent concern). While the overarching theme of the book is about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, Grotenhermen does not shy away from sharing anecdotal and clinical data about potential risks and side effects of cannabis use, which, in this reviewer’s opinion, gives the reader a balanced viewpoint from which to make an informed assessment about whether cannabis may be beneficial for them or their patient(s).

Throughout the book, Grotenhermen shares real experiences from his patients. He weaves these anonymous patient stories with clinical and observational research study outcomes, making it easy for readers to quickly understand how cannabis may affect someone with a particular condition or symptom. Clear guidance is given for dosing, intake methods, contraindications, and how to mitigate potential risks and/or adverse side effects. Additionally, the book is well referenced with peer-reviewed journal articles for those who wish to dig deeper. For these reasons, this book achieves its purpose of being a therapeutic guide to cannabis.

The cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive and intoxicating component of the cannabis plant and the most-studied cannabinoid, is the primary focus of the book, although there is some coverage throughout about cannabidiol (CBD) research and use cases.

Covering all the potential therapeutic uses of cannabis in one book is an impossible task. This book, however, does a good job of providing a basic overview of how patients with some of the most common chronic illnesses might benefit from cannabis in general. I appreciate that the author consistently communicates that the use of cannabis and cannabis products is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but that through thoughtful and measured experimentation patients are empowered to safely find the best dose for them. To that end, the guidance in the book gives readers sufficient information to make judgements about where to start and how to escalate the dosage in increments to ultimately help them get the relief they seek.

This practical book covers a tremendous amount of information in a concise, easy-to-follow format. It can be used as a desk reference or read from beginning to end. Either way, the cannabis-naive and the most experienced cannabis educators, researchers, and health care providers will find this book useful.

Nishi Whiteley is a cannabis science writer, author, and educator based in Austin, Texas. She is also the COO of CReDO Science, a cannabis-based formulation consulting and biopharma IP development company. She recently co-authored a review article on CBD, which was published in HerbalGram issue 127.