While recreational use of marijuana remains controversial, there are lots of states in the US and some countries from around the world that have been acknowledging the medical uses of cannabis.
As the world starts to change its views regarding marijuana, many experts were also given the chance to prove the effectiveness of the drug in treating various diseases. The list grows day by day, but so far, here are the most common medicinal uses of marijuana.
Nausea and Vomiting
Cannabis has been proven to treat nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite. Patients who are suffering from HIV/AIDS and cancer and undergo radiation and chemotherapy suffer from nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite as side effects. Marijuana can help these patients to alleviate their symptoms since a particular strain of medical marijuana contains a unique mix of different cannabinoids and terpenes. And those strains with especially high THCV and CBDV are believed to have therapeutic effects in reducing nausea, as shown in a study published in 2013.
Furthermore, a 2002 study has also revealed that the use of cannabis has greatly helped a group of patients with Alzheimer’s disease to gain weight. Aside from that, there are a lot of patient testimonials saying that they have experienced relief from nausea and all other similar symptoms after smoking cannabis.
Anorexia and Cachexia
Cachexia is a medical term that refers to severely marked weight loss as a result of a serious ailment like cancer, AIDS, heart, and digestive diseases, although it can be a result of a combination of many factors. Marijuana and its cannabinoid THC are known to stimulate appetite by influencing the neural networks of our brain to become hungry as shown in a study published in 2004.
Furthermore, cannabis can also increase energy and activity levels of patients with anorexia and cachexia. Because cannabis has anti-emetic properties, patients are allowed to absorb more nutrients from the food they eat, which in turn helps them gain weight.
Multiple Sclerosis patients and those who suffer from spinal injury often experience involuntary crippling muscle contractions and can even lead to temporary paralysis of the affected area. Many of them have resorted to using medical marijuana to reduce muscle cramps and spasms and most of them reports positive outcomes through the help of the herb.
Theoretically, spasms are said to originate from an area in the brain that controls movement, including several sites which have plenty of cannabinoid receptors. In a study conducted to know the effectiveness of marijuana, it showed that the cannabinoid THC reduces spasticity in patients with MS.
Pain is the most common reason why people use medical marijuana. The cannabinoids THC and CBD interacts with the pain systems inside our body and therefore reduces pain. In a study published in 2010, three puffs of cannabis daily showed to help people with neuropathic pain due to surgery or injury feel less pain and get better sleep.
Marijuana is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties that is why it is best used by people with neuropathic pain, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Treatment for Epilepsy and Other Similar Conditions
The use of medical cannabis for epilepsy has been the oldest indications of the drug. Cannabinoids have been found in many studies to possess anti-epileptic properties and can potentiate the effects of other epileptic drugs such as diazepam and phenytoin.
For example, in a report describing the case of Charlotte, a patient with Dravet syndrome, it has shown that cannabis with high CBD contents reduced the frequency of seizures from almost 50 convulsions a day to just 2 to 3 nocturnal seizures per month.
Treatment for Asthma
Marijuana has long been reported to improve the symptoms of asthma and many studies can explain why it might help patients to breathe easier.
A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology shows that marijuana has similar effects on the airways as most asthma medications we use. Researchers have found that THC can block contractions of muscles caused by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is said to contribute to airway muscle contractions during asthma attacks. Vaporizing marijuana delivers THC into our bloodstream faster and safer than smoking marijuana.
Treatment for Glaucoma
Medical marijuana is also promoted as an effective treatment for glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye condition wherein the optic nerve becomes damaged as there is an increase in the normal levels of intraocular pressure (IOP) in the eye.
The idea that marijuana can help patients with glaucoma is that smoking marijuana lowers their IOP levels. However, the research supported by National Eye Institute in the US states that the compounds found in marijuana only helps lower IOP in a short period of 3 to 4 hours.
But just recently, there has been a 2016 study that confirmed that the frequent use of marijuana showed positive effects in reducing the IOP levels of patients with glaucoma.
Combats Withdrawal and Dependency to Other Drugs
This idea may be ridiculous to some but there are new evidences that say marijuana can help patients to recover from dependency and addictions to other drugs. The research study published at Columbia University proved that patients who are given Dronabinol—a synthetic THC, for their recovery were more likely to finish their treatment course while having experienced less withdrawal symptoms.
Furthermore, smoking cannabis post treatment has helped patients to experience lesser negative side effects than those who did not smoke post treatment.
Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases
Cannabis products do not only act as effective analgesics but are also known for demonstrating anti-inflammatory potential. There are a number of pain-related symptoms related to inflammatory processes, such as arthritis and ulcerative colitis, and most of its symptoms are well managed by cannabis.
In a study by the University of South Carolina, THC has been found to suppress the immune system and it can be a useful response in the treatment of many inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Furthermore, the cannabinoid CBD acts to repair the immune system and helps the body to recognize the difference between foreign entities and normal bodily functions, which keeps the body from attacking itself.
Several clinical studies have observed that medical cannabis can relieve different symptoms associated with various mental health disorders. The use of medical cannabis helps you feel relaxed and chill, thus it is believed to be effective in stabilizing the mood and alleviating depression and anxiety.
A 2015 study showed that stress results to a decrease in endocannabinoids—cannabis like compounds that are naturally found inside the brain, thus leading to depression behaviors. The findings have raised the fact that marijuana components can be used in lowering depression which results from chronic stress.
Overall, there are numbers of possible indications for marijuana use and more of this is being studied by many researchers. Cannabis products show promising effects in many diseases, especially those that involve painful conditions and inflammatory origins. It is about times we change our views regarding marijuana use because it is a less harmful drug than alcohol and any other drugs.