Appendix E: Glossary of
Medical Terms


Acetylcholine. A neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in forming and preserving memories.

Acetylcholinesterase. The enzyme responsible for breaking down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Allele. A SNP variant.

Alzheimer's disease. A progressive form of presenile dementia characterized by impaired memory followed by impaired thought and speech, and finally, complete helplessness.

Amygdala. A region located deep within the temporal lobes of the brain's cerebrum. The amygdala plays a primary role in processing memory, decision-making, and emotional responses.

Anandamide. The first endocannabinoid to be discovered.

Angiogenesis. The process by which tissues stimulate the growth of new blood vessels.

Anorexia. An eating disorder governed by an overpowering desire to be thin.

Anterior cingulate gyrus. A brain region involved in attention allocation, reward anticipation, decision-making, ethics and morality, impulse control, and emotion.

Anxiety. Inner turmoil and unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events.

Apoptosis (also known as programmed cell death). Cellular self-destruction.

Arthritis. A chronic inflammation of joints.

Atherosclerosis. A buildup of abnormal fatty deposits and fibrous tissue in the inner layer of the arteries.

Autism spectrum disorder. A neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Symptoms begin to appear within the first two years of life.

Autonomic nervous system. A control system that regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. This system consists of the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic  nervous system, and the enteric nervous system.

Benzodiazepine. A class of drugs used to treat panic, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal.

Bipolar disorder. A mood disorder characterized by periods of depression and periods of abnormally-elevated energy or happiness.

Cachexia. A syndrome resulting in muscle protein loss

Cannabinoid receptor. A cell-membrane receptor that interacts with THC, specifically, either of the receptors, CB1 or CB2.

Cannabinoid. A compound that interacts with the cannabinoid receptors or is structurally similar to compounds that do.

Cannabis compound. A cannabinoid, terpene, or flavonoid found in cannabis plants.

Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis ruderalis. Native cannabis strains found in the wild.

Cannabis. A plant belonging to the species C. sativa. Also, any plant product harvested from cannabis plants. The term cannabis is often used as a euphemism for marijuana, but hemp plants also belong to this same species.

Case study. A scientific study of a patient's personal story.

CB1, CB2. See Cannabinoid receptor.

Cell-cycle arrest. Preventing a cell from reproducing. This can happen at any stage of a cell's life cycle.

Chemical addiction. Involvement with a chemical such that attempted cessation leads to the discovery that stopping is easier said than done. Further evidence of addiction is that use has caused problems severe enough to impair health, work, and personal relationships.

CNR1 gene. The gene that codes for the CB1 cannabinoid receptor.

Cytotoxic. Toxic to cells.

Depression. A mental and behavioral disorder characterized by a loss of interest or a loss of feeling of pleasure in activities that usually bring joy to people.

Dyslipidemia. Abnormal levels of lipids — such as cholesterol and triglycerides — in the blood. It can involve HDL levels that are too low or LDL levels that are too high.

Endocannabinoid. Endogenous neurotransmitters that originate within the body and bind to cannabinoid receptors.

Epilepsy. A group of non-communicable neurological disorders characterized by recurrent epileptic seizures — periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

Essential tremor. A condition that involves shaking of hands and other extremities.

FAAH gene. The gene responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid anandamide.

Fibromyalgia. A medical condition defined by the presence of widespread chronic pain, fatigue, waking unrefreshed, cognitive symptoms, lower abdominal pain or cramps, and depression.

Flavonoids. Water-soluble pigmented antioxidants found in most plants.

Fragile X syndrome. The result of an inherited genetic defect in a gene that protects against mental retardation.

Genotype. A pair of alleles.

Glaucoma. A group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss.

Heart attack (myocardial infarction). A sudden blockage of blood flow to a part of the heart muscle.

Hemorrhagic Stroke. A stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.

Hemp. Cannabis with less than 0.3% THC.

Huntington's disease. An inherited genetic illness that causes premature death of brain neurons in the striatum, which coordinates movement, and in the frontal cortex, which controls thinking and emotions.

Il-1. Interleukin-1 is a family of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

IL-17. Interleukin-17 is a family of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

IL-6. Interleukin-6 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine.

IL-8. Interleukin-8 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine.

In vitro study. The results of laboratory experiments with cells or tissues taken from plants, animals, or humans.

Inflammation. A local response to cellular injury that initiates the elimination of noxious agents or damaged tissue.

Intoxicating. Exciting or stupefying with possible loss of physical and mental control.

Invasion. A tumor spreading to a nearby location.

Ischemic stroke. A stroke caused by the narrowing or blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain.

Large-scale study. A study of more than a thousand subjects. Such a study involves careful attention to experimental design to avoid experimental errors.

Marijuana. Cannabis with at least 0.3% THC.

Metastasis. A tumor spreading to a distant location.

Migraine. A disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches. 

Multiple sclerosis. A neurological condition in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged.

Mutation. Any event that changes genetic structure.

Myocardial ischemia. Reduced blood flow to the heart.

Myocarditis. Inflammation of the heart muscle.

Nausea. A diffuse sense of unease often perceived as an urge to vomit.

Necrosis. Cell death caused by events outside of the cell.

Neurogenesis. The process of adding new nerve cells to the nervous system.

Neuropathic pain. Pain that originates within the nervous system itself

Neurotransmitter. A signaling molecule secreted by a neuron to affect another neuron across a synapse.

Nociceptive pain. Pain that responds to damaging or potentially damaging physical stimulation. Such pain is initiated by pain receptors known as nociceptors.

Osteoarthritis. A degenerative joint disease that results from the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone.

Panic. Sudden, overpowering fright and extreme anxiety.

Parasympathetic nervous system. One of the three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. It is responsible for rest-feed-and-bread activities.

Parkinson's disease. A disease caused by the die-off of dopamine-producing neurons that supply parts of the brain involved in movement and reward.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Residual feelings of stress or fright experienced even when one is no longer in danger.

Prions —misfolded proteins capable of replication.

Psychoactive. Affecting mood, perception, cognition, mind, or behavior.

Psychomimetic. Producing effects that resemble psychotic symptoms.

Psychotropic. Acting on the mind.

Rheumatoid arthritis. A long-term autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the synovial membranes that hold the fluid that lubricates the joints.

Schizophrenia. A mental illness involving three kids of problems:

·       positive symptoms - experiencing what is not there (hallucinations)

·       negative symptoms - not experiencing what is there

·       cognitive symptoms - thinking problems

Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). A location within a gene with genetic variation. SNPs normally come in pairs, with one inherited from the mother and one from the father.

Small-scale study, small-scale trial. A study of fewer than a thousand subjects. Small-scale studies divide patients into different treatment groups based on varying criteria.

Stress. Psychological pain involving feelings of strain and pressure.

Stroke. A sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain.

Sympathetic nervous system. The portion of the autonomic nervous system responsible for the fight-or-flight response.

Synapse. The junction between two neurons (axon-to-dendrite) or between a neuron and a muscle

Terpenes. Light-weight oily compounds found not only in cannabis but in most other plants.

Tincture. A compound dissolved in alcohol or oil.

TNF-α. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha is a pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in inflammatory responses to infection.

Tourette Syndrome. A nervous system condition causes people to have involuntary tics — sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people repeatedly do.

Typical pain. See nociceptive pain.

Xenograft. An technique in which tissue of one species is grafted onto an organism of a different species. An example would be grafting lung tumors into a mouse with no immune system.