Cannabis, or marijuana, as it’s more casually known, has become a more socially acceptable drug as of the last decade and has even become legal in some US states as well as the entire country of Canada.
However, besides its reputation as the recreational drug of choice for a majority of the population in the US, it is also a drug with myriad medical benefits. These aren’t simply limited pain relief and sedation as some may be led to believe, but actual medical benefits which can have a positive impact on your long term health and wellbeing.
Here are some medical benefits of smoking cannabis that you may or may not have been aware of.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
The best supported medicinal use for marijuana is that it dulls pain and can act as a treatment for chronic pain. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, there is definitive evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids (chemicals found in the marijuana plant) can be effective in the treatment of chronic pain.
The report has said that it’s the most common reason that people request medical marijuana. If it’s legal where you live, you can approach closest recreational dispensary for more information about purchasing it and smoking it in a responsible way.
Preventing Muscle Spasms
The same report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said that there was equally strong evidence that the chemicals in marijuana could treat muscle spasms. These could be related to multiple sclerosis, as well as the spasms which result from the diaphragm and ones which are untreatable by other medications.
This is one of the top uses of medical marijuana in the USA. According to the National Eye Institute, studies in the early 1970s showed that when marijuana is smoked by people with Glaucoma, it lowers intraocular pressure. Thus, it decreases the amount of pressure that people experience as a result of the disease.
Helps Control Epileptic Seizures
Studies have shown that cannabidiol which is the second major compound in marijuana beside THC, helps to treat people with epilepsy and reduce the seizures they have. There haven’t been many gold standard, or double-blind studies on the topic and researchers say that more data is needed to reach a conclusion though.
Decreases Symptoms of Dravet’s Syndrome
Dravet’s Syndrome has as one of its symptoms, violent seizures which can occur in small children. Marijuana strains which are rich in cannabidiol and low in THC have been shown to be effective in treating those symptoms.
It has to be made clear though that this is not endorsed as a treatment for Dravet’s Syndrome by doctors in the US.
Helps stop the Spread of Cancer
CBD is the collective name given to a series of chemicals found in the marijuana which has been shown to help prevent cancer from spreading. The first instance of this was reported in 2007 in the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.
Other studies have shown that aggressive brain tumors in mice and cell cultures have shrunk or stopped growing at as fast a pace as before. Further research is required to see if the same effects can be replicated successfully in human beings.
Since marijuana relaxes the people that use it, it has been known to decrease anxiety in people if taken in low doses. Cannabis users can consume it to relax in stressful situations, but it has been shown to increase anxiety if taken in large doses.
To this end, scientists conducted a study that was published in the Journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence to try and find the Goldilocks zone which was the right amount of marijuana to smoke to calm people down.
Of course, this Goldilocks zone varies from person to person depending on the body mass, gender, age, and tolerance that they’ve built up to marijuana in the first place.
Slows Down the Progression of Alzheimer’s
Research by the Scripps Research institute has shown that Marijuana may be very effective at slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The study was conducted in 2006 and found that THC which is an active ingredient in the drug slows the formation of amyloid plaques, which form in the brain when Alzheimer’s occurs.
THC does this by blocking the enzyme that makes the plaque and hence prevents the plaque from killing brain cells which are associated with Alzheimer’s.
Eases the Pain of Multiple Sclerosis
According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the pain experienced by patients of Multiple Sclerosis has been shown to decrease following the administering of Marijuana. The patients in the study didn’t respond to other treatments but felt considerably better over the next few days after they had smoked marijuana.
The THC in marijuana seems to bind to the receptors in the nerves which relieve pain in the muscles.
Relieves Arthritis Pain
Marijuana can alleviate the pain felt by arthritis patients as it reduces inflammation and can improve sleep. In a 2011 study, researchers found that this helped with rheumatoid arthritis. Other studies have replicated these results and have found that inhaled marijuana can reduce the pain in arthritis patients according to the National Academies report.
Soothes Tremors for Parkinson’s Patients
Research from Israel has shown that smoking marijuana can reduce the pain and tremors that are experienced by patients of Parkinson’s disease. It has also been shown to improve sleep for them and improve their motor skills as a result.
Helps Veterans with PTSD
In 2014, the Colorado Dept of Public Health awarded nearly $2 million to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in order to produce research on the potential of marijuana for people with PTSD.
It found that cannabinoids, chemicals within cannabis like THC help to regulate the system which can cause fear and anxiety in the body and brain. Cannabis is already approved to be used for PTSD in states like New Mexico.
Marijuana is a primarily seen as a recreational drug with little to no side effects on adults, but it has so many potential and proven medical benefits that some consider it an option if you suffer from any of the above symptoms or diseases. However, you should only do so with the prescription of a physician.