The Medicinal Uses of Cannabis and How It Works
Posted by: Juile Adams
Numerous reputable studies have documented the significant health benefits of medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis uses the cannabis plant (or chemicals in it) for the treatment of diseases or medical conditions. The basic plant is generally similar to the plant used as recreational marijuana, but it is used for medical purposes.
The marijuana plant contains over 100 chemicals known as cannabinoids. Each cannabinoid has a different effect on our body. Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most important chemicals used in cannabis-based medicine. THC is a psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant and is responsible for the ‘high’ when marijuana is smoked or ingested in edible form. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound and is known to have medicinal properties.
Here are the medical uses of cannabis:
* Alzheimer’s disease: According to a 2016 study, THC reduces inflammation and the presence of amyloid plaques. Amyloid plaques are excess protein deposits in our brain and are the marker for Alzheimer’s disease.
* Appetite stimulation: The phenomenon known to marijuana users as ‘the munchies’ may in fact be useful in medical settings. Patients suffering from chronic diseases and emotional distress often struggle to maintain an appetite, which can negatively impact their overall health. Some active components in marijuana may help stimulate appetite. Chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea: The anti-emetic properties of marijuana help fight nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy. Western scientific research demonstrated this effect in human clinical trials.
* Cancer pain: Cannabis compounds like CBD and THC have science-backed evidence of easing cancer pain in human trials. A trial published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that treatment with CBD and THC successfully reduced pain in cancer patients across multiple treatment centres.
* Intractable childhood epilepsy: According to parents of children with intractable epilepsy, CBD oils reduce the frequency and severity of their children’s seizures. These reports have been supported by an open-table trial and a large, multi-site, randomized controlled trial (RCT). A systematic review of clinical trials found that using CBD with conventional antiepileptic medicines significantly reduces their frequency in children with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. However, more clinical pharmacological studies are required to better define cannabis doses and interactions with other anti-epileptic medications.
Cannabis has been long used for treating depression and associated symptoms. Depression is nowadays a very common but often poorly addressed mental condition, especially in the United States.
While there is no definite evidence supporting the effectiveness of medical cannabis in the long-term treatment of depression, numerous studies have suggested that it could be beneficial. In moderation, cannabis can increase serotonin levels, otherwise known as the “happy hormone”. In turn, the increased levels of serotonin acts as an anti-depressant and has proven to be highly effective for depression treatment.
* Improves lung health: Medical cannabis doesn’t contain the deadly carcinogenic compounds that exist in tobacco products. In fact, many recent studies have demonstrated that cannabis has the capability to treat many serious lung conditions, such as emphysema and lung cancer. It often results in a regression in the users’ lung diseases.
* Opiate addiction : Marijuana acts as a very effective medication and thus, can help reduce dependence on opiate-based medication which has more addictive properties.
* Arthritis: A 2011 research found that cannabis reduced the pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, and promoted sleep and quality of life. Researchers of the rheumatology units at a number of hospitals gave their patients Sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine. After two weeks, patients who were given Sativex experienced a significant reduction in pain and better sleep quality compared to placebo users.
* The pain of multiple sclerosis: Marijuana stops the negative neurological effects and muscle spasms resulting from multiple sclerosis. According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association, cannabis may
ease the pain caused by multiple sclerosis. The study conducted on 30 multiple sclerosis patients with
* painful muscles concluded that patients didn’t respond to standard medications, but smoking marijuana for a few days relieved their pain. Cannabis is also known to have neuroprotective properties that help treat traumatic brain injury. It is also found to be effective in the treatment of Tourette syndrome, spinal cord injury, sleep apnea, sexual dysfunction, schizophrenia, and many other medical conditions. Cannabis and cannabis-related products have an extremely wide range of uses and applications. These studies and future studies will confirm that including these compounds in conjunction with other treatment options can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on suffering patients.
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