Although recreational cannabis remains a controversial issue in many parts of the world, its supporters have never been greater in number. With this explosion of popularity and accessibility, the time has come for the marijuana community to rally behind the need large-scale studies into both the benefits and adverse effects of marijuana
All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing, not a poison. ~ Paracelsus
In the meantime, as it relates to medicating an illness or condition, patients have little choice but to rely on less-thorough studies, first-hand accounts, and personal experiences to determine whether medical marijuana is right for them.
With that said, the studies that have been done have consistently shown the tremendous benefits of cannabis for a multiple conditions. Here now is out list of 10 common medical uses for marijuana.
10 Common Medical Uses For Marijuana
Marijuana Treats Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disease that increases pressure in the eyeball. It can damage the optic nerve and if left untreated, may cause loss of vision. According to the National Eye Institute: “Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.” Marijuana may prevent and slow the progression of glaucoma, hence may prevent blindness.
Marijuana Controls Epileptic Seizures
According to a 2003 study done by Robert J. DeLorenzo, cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) control seizures. Cannabis extract was given to epileptic rats, and their seizures stopped for about 10 hours by apparently binding to brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and relaxation.
By now, a lot of people have seen the documentary, Weed, and there’s a bit where it featured Charlotte Figi, the 5-year old girl with Dravet’s Syndrome. Dravet Syndrome is a disorder that causes seizures and developmental delays. In Charlotte’s case, the disorder has been causing 300 seizures per week. The use of a medical marijuana strain that’s high in CBD (the non-psychoactive component in marijuana) and low in THC (the part that makes you feel high) has decreased the seizures to just once per week. According to her doctors, the cannabidiol interacts with brain cells to tone down excessive activities in brain regions that cause the seizures.
Cannabis Decreases Anxiety
Medical marijuana patients claim that cannabis helps relieve pain and nausea, hence why pot is often prescribed to counter the side effects of chemotherapy. Researchers, however, suggest that these are only outcomes from reduced anxiety. Reduced anxiety accounts for improved mood and higher serotonin levels (which marijuana also produces) and combined with its sedative properties, may account for the reduced suffering experienced by such medical patients.
However it is important to keep in mind that depending on the strain, dosage and personal makeup of the patient, marijuana can, and often does, increase anxiety. In general, anxiety sufferers ought to avoid sativa strains (particularly of the “haze” variety) and begin with a low Indica dosage to start. Edibles or capsules may also improve the experience for some users but once again, dosage will be key.
Marijuana Helps with PTSD
A number of years ago, the Department of Health and Human Services signed off on a proposal to study marijuana as part of post-traumatic stress disorder treatment for veterans and in fact cannabis is already approved as PTSD treatment in a growing number of states. Cannabinoids similar to THC are thought to balance the system in charge of fear and anxiety in the brain and body and early reports have been extremely favorable.
Cannabis Reverses Carcinogenic Effects of Tobacco
In a 2012 study it was suggested that not only did marijuana not negatively impact lung capacity, but it actually improved it! During the 20-year study, researchers found that pot smokers showed an increase in lung capacity over time versus tobacco smokers who, of course, lost function.
CBD Stops The Spreading of Cancer
A 2007 study reported that cannabidiol prevents cancer by turning off the Id-1 gene, which is the cell that cancer makes copies off to help itself spread. For the study, breast cancer cells with high expression levels of Id-1 were treated with cannabidiol and resulted in decreased expression and lowered spreading of the disease.
THC Slows Down Alzheimer’s Disease Progression
As early as 2006, THC was found to slow down the formation of amyloid plaques – the very same plaques that kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s Disease. THC was shown to block the enzyme that produces these plaques, an exciting discovery that continues to influence medical marijuana research today.
Marijuana Soothers Tremors in Parkinson’s Disease
In 2013 smoking marijuana was show to decrease tremors and pain in Parkinson’s sufferers while increasing motor skills. This research is one of the many studies being conducted in Israel thanks to government support.
Marijuana Relieves Pain
THC is known to relieve pain by binding to receptors in the nerves and muscles. As already discussed, studies also suggest that muscle spasms may be better controlled through the use of THC.
Additionally, painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis are eased by marijuana and helps reduced inflammation and promote sleep rheumatoid arthritis patients without the need for dangerous, expensive, and addictive prescription medication.
Pot Relieves Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS)
According to University of Nottingham researchers, THC and CBD interact with cells that have roles in gut function and immune response. Compounds similar to THC that are produced by the body increase intestinal permeability that allows bacteria to seep through. Plant cannabinoids, on the other hand, block the endocannabinoids making the intestinal cells pack tightly. These studies were supported by further research which showed that smoking a joint decreases the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Green Means Go
With so many potential medical uses for cannabis, full scale legalization will inevitably lead to greater research and reduced suffering, a welcome and long-awaited sight for medical marijuana patients around the world.
To learn more about the many medical benefits of marijuana visit Canada’s HealthBC.