The earliest mention of cannabis consumption can be dated to over 4000 years ago in China. During the reign of Chinese Emperor- Shen Nung, it has been documented to be used as a psychoactive agent.
It was primarily used for the treatment of rheumatism, gout, malaria, and absentmindedness. The gradual shift of marijuana consumption for medical treatments to recreational aspects created a fuss amongst the anti-drug activists.
With the recent event of legalizing cannabis for personal use, in many states across US and other countries, the eminent health benefits of the herb are once again being explored.
Though the Controlled Substances Act 1970 classified it as Schedule 1 drug, the scientists have been exploring its use to treat many ailments. And in the year 1985, the US Food and Drug Administration finally approved the active ingredient ‘THC’ for use in medical treatments only.
A US government-sponsored study, conducted by the Institute of Medicine, in the year 1999, studied its benefits in certain medical conditions including nausea, chemotherapy, and AIDS.
Here are some of the researched and proposed health benefits of marijuana.
Helps Soothe Chronic Pain
One of the main reasons why people prefer using cannabis is its soothing effect. The active compounds, known as cannabinoids-CBD and THC, control the overall effect of the drug on the user.
A carefully measured concentration of these components decides whether you’ll feel high or you’ll become more creative. Having said that, higher contents of CBD is actually what relieves patients suffering from chronic pain. According to an article published on medicalnewstoday.com, chronic pain is a leading cause of disability and affects over 25 million adults in the US.
Cancer Treatment And Cannabis
As already said, cannabis can help relieve chronic pain, it has found its use in cancer treatment as well. Patients undergoing chemotherapy are intoxicated with cannabinoids to help them cope with the painful procedure.
Furthermore, studies prove that cannabinoids can slow down the growth of cancer cells. With insufficient evidence that these chemicals can also help kill the cancer cells, it won’t be appropriate to suggest otherwise.
Though these studies have been conducted in a controlled environment in a lab, the reports suggest that the herb’s benefits in cancer treatment need to be studied further.
Effect On Alzheimer’s Disease
A neurological disorder, Alzheimer’s disease causes deterioration of brain tissues and slows down a person’s thinking ability. THC, which is the active ingredient in cannabis, slows down the formation of amyloid plaques.
A study led by Kim Janda, from the Scripps Research Institute, found in 2006 that THC attacks the enzyme that assists the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. The plaque is known to kill brain cells and marijuana can stop it from damaging your brain. Thus, protecting against the propagation of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Pain Relief During Arthritis
As you already know by now, how cannabis has proven health benefits in reducing pain, it has been found to help with Arthritis treatment as well. A group of researchers in 2011, suggested that marijuana helps relieve the inflammatory sensations for arthritis patients.
A more precise proof on the subject is suggested by many other researchers on rheumatology. Several practitioners from different hospitals participated in a study and prescribed their patients suffering from arthritis Sativex. The drug is a cannabinoid-based pain-killer. And surprisingly, the study suggested improved sleep quality due to reduced pain in the patients.
Control Over Epileptic Seizures
Patients suffering from epilepsy often experience seizures due to physical and mental stress. During an epileptic seizure, the brain cells reach a meta-excited state, which causes sudden dizziness, loss of control, and eventually a loss of sensations.
A study at the Virginia Commonwealth University, led by Robert J. DeLorenzo dozed epileptic rats with marijuana extracts. The results were stunning. The treated rats stopped the seizures within 10 hours of drug ingestion.
Improves Sleep For Patients Of Parkinson’s Disease
The government of Israel has legalized medical marijuana legal recently. The reason why the government has supported the medical use of the herb is the study that proves efficient treatment support with the help of cannabis.
The study reveals an exciting improvement in fine motor skills among patients smoking marijuana. Furthermore, the study suggests that the drug is also helpful with reducing pain and tremors associated with the disease, along with a night of improved sleep.
Helps Decrease Anxiety
One of the most commonly treated diseases with the help of marijuana is anxiety. The active compounds present in the herb helps release the feel-good chemicals in the brain. In fact, the pulsating high effect caused by cannabis creates euphoric effects for the user.
A study led by some of the most brilliant brains on this planet, researchers at Harvard University, suggested that the drug helps improve the smoker’s mood and causes sedative effects.
Is Believed To Improve Lung Health
Although this may sound a bit absurd, it’s true that smoking weed can actually help improve your lung health. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association actually improves lung functioning and the volumetric capacity of the lungs.
The researches also suggested that the improvement in lung performance was only found in the weed smokers, while the ones smoking tobacco actually showed decreased lung functionality.
This improvement in lung health is believed to be associated with the drags that a weed smoker pulls. Due to heavy drag that marijuana users pull, the lungs actually get to outperform their efficiency with every drag.
It Also Stimulates Appetite
Loss of appetite can be caused by many reasons. From parasitic infections to the side-effects of any particular treatment, loss of appetite can be associated with a lot of factors. Nevertheless, marijuana can help stimulate appetite regardless of any reason for the loss.
Ingesting cannabis causes dehydration, which leads to a sudden deficiency of energy in the body. To compensate with the lowered energy levels, your body starts to crave for food.
Muscle Spasms Can Be Controlled
Muscle spasms are irregular flexing of the muscle tissues. This irregular stretching and relaxing cycle is not just extremely painful, but also can affect many other bodily functions. For example, Myoclonus Diaphragmatic Flutter, aka Leeuwenhoek’s Disease, causes spasms in abdominal muscles, which can interfere with the breathing and speaking of the patient.
Marijuana consumption in any form can help relax these muscles. Relaxed muscles are less susceptible to experience spasms.
Mental Concussions And Trauma Can Be Avoided
A recently published study in the Journal of Cerebral Cortex revealed the possibilities of healing the brain after concussions and other traumatic injuries, using cannabis. Though the experiments were conducted on mice, the results enlisted lessened bruising of the brain. This, in turn, helped heal the mechanism after injuries.
Additionally, Professor Lester Grinspoon from Harvard University, who is an emeritus of psychiatry and an advocate of marijuana wrote an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall. In his letter, he wrote, “Already many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data.” In fact, he urged the commissioner to fund research on marijuana plant’s ability to protect the brain, rather than testing players for marijuana.
Treatment Against Opioid & Alcohol Addiction
The supporters of cannabis already claim that it is far less harmful to smoke weed as compared to cigarettes and alcohol. In fact, an anonymous study reveals that cannabis can actually be the safest drug available. The report mentions that marijuana is actually 114 times safer than alcohol.
For the patients undergoing rehab for opioid and alcohol addiction, marijuana can prove to help de-addict them. Yes, that’s true. According to the researchers at Columbia University, the patients who smoked weed were able to sleep better and were less anxious.
Moreover, the researchers prescribed patients with dronabinol, a cannabis-derived drug consisting of THC. Their observation was published in the Journal stating that the drug helped with withdrawal symptoms, and the patients were more likely to complete their course.
Another publication from High Times pointed at the fact that opiate-related deaths have dropped in states having legalized cannabis use for medical and/or recreational use.
Nevertheless, the medical benefits of marijuana are still under research. The deficiency of solid evidence and the restricted exploitation of the drug makes it difficult to access and study. Therefore, a strong negotiator for the academic and commercial benefits of marijuana is all the more necessary. Hopefully, the changing perspective towards the herb would allow for the much-anticipated regulation of the drug. Having it legalized would not only expose the tremendous potential that this medicinal herb contains, but also a plethora of criminalized activities would sieze to exist. Notably, it is the balck market that has earned the drug its bad rep, and not the user itself. Focusing on the user and considering the global welfare, further studies on the drug should be advocated.