The Therapeutic Benefits Of Cannabis, According To Science
Studies Support Medical Marijuana For Various Ailments
The cannabis plant has been around for centuries. It is believed to have originated in Central Asia, but has expanded its reach to an international scale over time. People around the globe consume cannabis, and their reasoning is largely the same – it makes them feel better.
In the eyes of most, a Coloradan who smokes cannabis recreationally to ease social anxiety is much different from an Israeli cancer patient. With that said, scientific research suggests that the same plant could be beneficial for each individual.
We know that cannabinoids, similar to those found in cannabis, are housed inside the body. In fact, cannabinoid receptors are present in humans before birth and the compounds themselves are found in breast milk. Medical marijuana gains merit when you consider our bodies are naturally tuned to interact with cannabinoids, and even more so when you acknowledge the growing evidence of benefits to cannabis consumption.
Cannabis & Digestion
It’s no secret – experiencing “the munchies” is one of the most obvious cannabis clichés. Despite the silly connotation, studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system truly may modulate appetite. This is especially interesting for the treatment of eating disorders; a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders last month suggests that cannabinoids may prove effective in treating anorexia.
Cannabis is also famously used to reduce the experience of nausea, but studies suggest it could have a number of digestive benefits as well. Medical Marijuana could play a role in a number of digestion-related issues, including:
Medical Marijuana For Pain Management
Chronic Pain is one of the most common ailments for which doctors prescribe medical marijuana and a recent survey published in The Spine Journal found that 1 out of 5 patients at a Colorado spine center were using cannabis to manage their pain. Of those, nearly 90% said it greatly or moderately relieved their pain.
The spine clinic study was merely a survey, which means more research will be necessary on the potential role of cannabis in treating back pain. With that said, plenty of people will tell you it helps manage pain and science is beginning to back their claims. Studies suggest medical marijuana could offer relief for various types of pain, including the following:
Cannabis & Mental Health
A common misconception of cannabis is that has detrimental effects on mental health. It is possible that high doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could trigger anxiety, and some believe it could expedite the onset of predisposed personality disorders.
The recent trend in the mental health field has been to investigate our relationship with cannabis. In turn, studies have linked cannabinoids to a number of mental health concerns. The research catalog is still growing, but a few conditions for which cannabis could be of benefit are as follows:
- Alcoholism and Cannabis
- Opiate Withdrawal and Cannabis
- Depression and Cannabis
- Phobias and Cannabis
- Psychosis and Cannabis
- Schizophrenia and Cannabis
Your Brain On Cannabis
Not only has cannabis been linked to mental health, cannabinoid receptor activity in the brain before birth suggests that the compounds could be play a role in brain development. Cannabis has been linked to the creation of new neurons in the brain, or neurogenesis, and overall brain plasticity. In addition to its role in brain development, cannabis is believed to have neuroprotective properties. Studies have offered evidence of these properties, and cannabis is believed to offer relief from various conditions, including the following:
Medical Marijuana & Cancer
One the most intriguing potential applications for medical marijuana is cancer treatment. It has long been prescribed to counter the side effects of chemotherapy, but oncologists across the world are working on trials to determine whether cannabis can be used to treat cancer itself.
Past research showed promise for THC in cancer treatment, but many are skeptical because of its psychotropic effects. As a result many oncologists have redirected their focus toward cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG). A recent British study, however suggests that cannabinoids may be most effective against cancer when combined – such is the case in medical marijuana.
A short list of studies supporting cancer treatment with cannabis are as follows:
Medical Marijuana: Alternative Delivery Methods
People often only think of medical marijuana as a substance to be smoked. As a result, many people are hesitant to question their doctor whether cannabis could benefit them. Someone with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should probably not be smoking, despite the fact that cannabis may help.
With that said, smoking is not the only way to undertake cannabis treatment. There is a growing number of patients who do not wish to smoke, for whatever reason, and they are able to use a number of alternative methods to receive the necessary treatment. A few of these methods can be found below:
- Oral Uptake (tincture, gum, etc.)
- Edibles (see Cooking with Cannabis)
- Vaporizing Cannabis
- Juicing Cannabis
Note: This is not an all-inclusive list of ailments for which cannabis has benefits.