Many patients suffering from chronic and debilitating illnesses, or from medical conditions that cause severe pain, muscle spasms, and a range of other symptoms, swear by the effectiveness of marijuana.
Marijuana contains active chemicals called cannabinoids that relieves severe pain, helps prevent nausea and vomiting, improves appetite, reduces inflammation, lessens anxiety, and controls muscle spasms. That is why many patients turn to this alternative remedy to help ease their symptoms or to manage the side effects of conventional treatment.
Studies proving the medical benefits of marijuana
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that marijuana can improve lung capacity and lung health and does not affect lung function. It also found that marijuana may even help reverse tobacco’s carcinogenic effects.
In 2003, a study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that marijuana can prevent epileptic seizures. According to the study, cannabinoids bind to the brain cells that control excitability and regulate relaxation, thus controlling seizures.
Moreover, a study by Harvard Medical School researchers suggested that marijuana’s benefits may be due to its ability to reduce anxiety. Higher doses, however, may also increase anxiety and cause paranoia.
In 2006, a study published in the Molecular Pharmaceutics journal found that THC slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by slowing amyloid plaque formation. Amyloid plaques are what destroy brain cells.
There are many other studies exploring the therapeutic potential and medical benefits of marijuana.
How does marijuana work?
The body produces cannabis-like chemicals that affect inflammation, pain, and other processes. Medical marijuana boosts these natural chemicals, helping them work better.
How is medical marijuana consumed or used for treatment?
Medical marijuana and its cannabinoids can enter your body in several ways. There’s inhalation, where gases enter your lungs and are then absorbed into the bloodstream. There are two accepted inhalation methods: smoking and vaporization. Smoking, which is the oldest method, can be done by using hand pipes, water pipes, hookahs, rolling papers, and homemade smoking devices. Vaporization, on the other hand, involves the use of a vaporizer to heat the marijuana to a temperature that is high enough to extract the cannabinoids but low enough to keep the harmful toxins from getting released. Vaporization is the healthier and more logical inhalation method as it minimizes the health risks that are usually associated with smoking, as well as minimizes odor.
There’s also oral delivery method, wherein the therapeutic compounds of cannabis are extracted and are administered through the mouth via tinctures, infused edibles, or ingestible oils. Unlike edibles, which are swallowed and which go through the digestive tract first, tinctures are placed under the tongue and are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream. Ingestible oils, on the other hand, can either be eaten or placed in capsules.
There are also topical methods, wherein cannabis extract is applied to the skin in the form of a spray, a lotion, an oil, or a cream.
How do you get medical marijuana?
If you are in a state where the use of medical marijuana is approved and if you are suffering from a qualified condition, you can get a written recommendation from a licensed doctor. Keep in mind that different states have different approved conditions and different limitations. You may also be required to get a marijuana card and be put on a list that allows you to get marijuana from an authorized dispensary.
What are the risks?
While marijuana has many medical benefits, it is not recommended for pregnant women, for people who have heart diseases, and for people who have a history of psychosis.
Using marijuana also has side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, euphoria, short-term memory loss, hallucinations, palpitation, low blood pressure, depression, and severe anxiety.