How Does Medical Marijuana Benefit Health
Modern research suggests that cannabis is valuable in the treatment of a wide range of clinical conditions. These include pain relief, nausea, muscle spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically important for patients suffering from AIDS and HIV. Emerging research also suggests that cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis work synergistically to protect the body against some types of malignant tumors.
Currently, more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations — including the American Public Health Association, Health Canada, and the Federation of American Scientists — support medicinal marijuana under a doctor’s supervision. Several others, including the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association, support the facilitation of wide-scale, clinical research trials so that physicians can better assess the potential uses for medical marijuana.
A 1991 Harvard study found that 44 percent of oncologists had previously advised marijuana therapy to their patients. Fifty percent responded they would do so if marijuana was legal.
A more recent national survey performed by researchers at Providence Rhode Island Hospital found that nearly half of physicians with opinions supported legalizing medical marijuana. And as more states begin to legalize marijuana, and as more studies are conducted, the trend of using cannabis as medicine should continue to grow.
Getting the munchies after using marijuana has become a bit of a cliche. However, it’s precisely this effect that has made cannabis such a potent weapon for treating eating disorders like anorexia. Marijuana use has also been shown to reduce feelings of nausea. And it’s even being used to treat diabetes, obesity, and Crohn’s disease.
Pain relief is easily the most common reason that medical marijuana is prescribed. According to The Spine Journal, one out of every five people using medical marijuana are doing so for pain relief. At one Colorado spine center, 90% of patients have reported that cannabis helps to relieve their pain. And now science has begun to backup these claims, as studies are showing positive effects on chronic pain and even neuropathic pain.
A 2016 study published in the medical journal Health Affairs found that the use of prescription drugs is significantly lower in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. The reduction in prescription medication use was especially pronounced for patients with chronic pain, a condition often treated with opioids.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved prescription opioids. And according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, in 2016, 11.5 million people abused opiods, and 116 people died every day from opiod overdose.
To call the opiod crisis an epidemic seems absolutely appropriate. The misuse of opioids – including prescription pain relievers – is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
Using medical marijuana to manage pain, at the very least, is addition by subtraction.
High doses of THC have been known to occasionally cause anxiety. Otherwise, the effects of medical marijuana on cognitive health is proving beneficial. Depression, phobias, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and opiate addiction and withdrawal are all being treated with cannabis.
In fact, marijuana has been linked to the creation of new neurons in the brain. And it’s even showing promise as having neuroprotective properties, which would make cannabis a potential treatment for neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Marijuana’s impact on people suffering from PTSD is promising. A recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry showed that the CBD found in marijuana may benefit those with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.
A treatment facility in Edmonton, Canada is currently treating PTSD in military veterans using CBD. Owner Fabian Henry, who uses marijuana to treat combat-related PTSD resulting from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, claims that conventional medicine does not allow people struggling with PTSD to process their trauma, while marijuana does.
One of the more intriguing applications of medical marijuana has been in the area of cancer treatment. Patients have long been using cannabis to combat the nasty side effects of chemotherapy. But now oncologists are looking at using medical marijuana to actually combat the disease, rather than just the side effects.
The list of conditions that is currently being treated with medical marijuana is long, and includes glaucoma, epileptic seizures, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, PTSD and sleep disorders. And according to one study, cannabis can even keep you skinny.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, people who smoked marijuana had healthier metabolisms and better weight management than non-smokers. Even the smoker’s blood sugar levels were healthier.