20 Medicinal Benefits of Marijuana That Are Largely Unknown
By Canncentral Editor
To begin, allow me to take you back to the past, discussing the first time marijuana use had been documented back in 2737 BC. During this period, the first reference to cannabis in China was discovered. Emperor Shen Nung originally wrote about the potential uses of marijuana at the time.
The emperor’s main focus was on marijuana’s medical properties when it came to dealing with issues such as malaria, gout, rheumatism, and even absent-mindedness. Shen Nung did not, however, seem to be concerned with the intoxication that cannabis could also provide. This meant that at this time, cannabis was looked at as a valuable tool in which to aid users in dealing with several physical ailments present at the time. Additionally, it was also seen as something that could be used to achieve mental clarity. Overall the benefits of cannabis at this time had little to do with getting “high” but rather the practical benefits the substance could provide.
Eventually, news of cannabis spread from China to India, followed by North Africa and Europe by approximately 500 AD. In 1850 up until 1942 marijuana could be found in the United States pharmacopeia to treat medical issues such as the aforementioned rheumatism, as well as nausea and labour pain.
History Of Marijuana for Medical Use
During the 1850s to the 1930s weed became increasingly more popular for recreational purposes aside from just the medical ones. This eventually leads to The Controlled Substances Act established in 1970. The act classified marijuana as a schedule 1 drug as a result.
As such, THC, the active ingredient in marijuana was synthesized in 1966 and later approved in 1985 by the U.S Food and Drug Administration as a way to make the drug more medically friendly.
California was the first state that legalized cannabis in 1996 for medical use, following this, approximately 24 additional states followed suit.
Three years later in 1999, a study by the Institute of Medicine found that marijuana has medical benefits in both cancer and AIDS patients, relieving symptoms such as nausea and wasting caused by each illness respectively.
Since this time, numerous other studies have also highlighted the various medical benefits of cannabis.
Benefits of recreational marijuanas
While there is quite a bit of scrutiny placed on the consumption of weed up until the present day, it is important to realize that the substance while often given a bad reputation does possess many positive qualities that should not be overlooked. As such, it is crucial that we take a deeper look into the potential benefits of marijuana in order to gain more insight and create a more informed opinion on the subject before passing judgement.
Now it is time to dive into a list of 20 medical benefits of cannabis that are often overlooked or are largely unknown that have been illustrated in multiple scientific studies:
- Slowing down or stopping cancer growth. The first benefit of marijuana that is important to note is that cannabis has been found to slow and or stop cancer cells from spreading further throughout the body. This is a substantial benefit, given that with the unfortunately high rates of cancer in our society and cures still being researched, marijuana has been shown to have a positive effect on slowing down, or in some cases stopping cancer’s ability to spread. In a study by the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, they found that cannabidiol, by stopping gene Id-1 can potentially eliminate cancer growth. Furthermore, a 2007 study done at the California Pacific Medical Center located in San Francisco found that breast cancer cells with increased Id-1 levels could be effectively treated with the use of cannabidiol. The addition of cannabidiol resulted in a decrease in the level of the aforementioned gene causing them to spread less. This slowed the spreading of cancer cells was also discussed by the American Association for Cancer Research, who claimed cannabis slowed the rates of tumour growth among various organs within the body.
- Alzheimer’s Prevention. Moreover, cannabis has also been shown to have the ability to limit the effect of Alzheimer’s, a mental condition that gradually destroys an individual’s memory and ability to think with full and unimpeded mental clarity. In 2006, Kim Janda from the Scripps Research Institute found that THC found in cannabis can decrease the rate at which amyloid plaques form through the blockage of the enzymes in the brain that create them. This is significant because it is these amyloid plaques that destroy brain cells and are thought to contribute to Alzheimers.
- Alleviate Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition affecting the eye through increased pressure which can injure the optic nerve and ultimately lead to loss of vision. However, a finding by the National Eye Institute has indicated that weed can lower the amount of pressure within the eye, thus limiting the overall effect of glaucoma. These findings are not isolated given that a study in the early 1970s has also shown that intraocular pressure decreased in individuals both with and without glaucoma with the use of marijuana.
- Manage Epileptic Seizures. Additionally, a 2003 study by Robert J. DeLorenzo has illustrated that cannabis may be able to alleviate the severity and frequency of epileptic seizures. DeLorenzo administered cannabis extract as well as synthetic marijuana to rats with epilepsy. He found that within a ten-hour timeframe, the rats had begun to stop seizing. This is thought to be the result of THC attaching brain cells responsible for managing excitability and relaxation. Of course, while this 2003 study was conducted on epileptic rats and not humans, the findings do seem to suggest that there is indeed a possibility that the THC found in cannabis can have a similar effect in humans as well.
- Reduce Arthritis Symptoms. In 2011 the reported effects of marijuana in reducing pain and inflammation, along with aiding in sleep began to be further explored. This has direct carry over into helping reduce the pain or discomfort experienced by sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. An experiment done in several hospitals prescribed a cannabinoid that is meant to reduce pain under the name Sativex to their subjects. Within two weeks, these individuals claimed they were experiencing much less pain and enjoying better sleep compared to those who received a placebo medication instead. These findings are quite significant, as arthritis is a condition that impacts many’s abilities to move freely without joint pain. However, with the use of marijuana, not only do the joints decrease in pain in inflammation during day to day activities, but also during the night which allows for a more peaceful rest which is also extremely beneficial.
- Reduce Pain Caused By Multiple Sclerosis. According to the Canadian Medical Association, certain ingredients found in cannabis have the ability to counter negative neurological effects as well as muscle spasms that are caused by multiple sclerosis. Moreover, due to its pain-relieving qualities, it was also shown to reduce the amount of pain brought on by the disease.
- Improve Tremors Associated With Parkinsons. Similarly, a study originating from Israel has indicated that weed use can also lessen the pain and tremors of those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Despite being a neurological disease affecting fine motor skills, cannabis seemed to improve the motor skills of the individuals who were using the substance.
- Lessen Effects Of Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s disease results in the inflammation of the bowels that can lead to pain, diarrhea, vomiting and more symptoms over time. However, a study conducted in Israel found that consuming cannabis largely reduced these symptoms in around 90% of their patients. In addition, some patients even claimed to be completely symptom-free. This is likely a result of cannabinoid’s positive effect in regulating gut bacteria as well as the function of the intestines in Crohn’s sufferers. It should be noted that this study contained an extremely small sample size of eleven subjects, however, the results of the study are promising nonetheless.
- Help Control Other Inflammatory Bowel Issues. The positive effects of medical marijuana on treating bowel related issues are not isolated to those with Cohn’s disease. For example, IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by the inflammation of the digestive tract is quite common issue. Numerous studies have concluded that weed may be of use to those dealing with IBS because it has properties that can aid in the regulation of the GI tract. This is because it produces vital endocannabinoids that people experiencing Irritable bowel syndrome often lack.
- Aid Those With Dravet Syndrome. Dravet is another illness that results in seizures as well as some severe delays in development. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has explored the use of cannabis to treat Dravet’s due to the belief that the cannabidiol it contains can cause the brain cells to mute the extracurricular brain activity that seizures stem from. Gupta’s main case study has been five-year-old Charlotte Figi who has suffered roughly 300 seizures a week due to Dravet Syndrome. However, Charlotte’s family claims that the seizures have drastically reduced to about one seizure per week using a marijuana strain containing high levels of Cannabidiol. After the success of Charlotte, Gupta has now administered this medication to forty other children who also claim to have reduced their number of seizures as a result.
- Help Control Effects Of Leeuwenhoek Disease. Leeuwenhoek Disease is a condition in which the patient experiences uncontrollable spasming of the abdominal region which can cause issues with speaking as well as breathing, while also being quite painful. Dr. Gupta treated an individual by the name of Chaz who suffered from this very condition, prescribing a dose of cannabis after other medications were found to be of little help to Chaz. Chaz found that once he began consuming marijuana to treat this condition, the spasms were much easier to control due to muscle relaxant properties found in weed.
- Aid In Symptom Relief And Treatment Of Hepatitis C. One of the main difficulties when treating Hepatitis C is that the side effects that many experiences mean that a large number of individuals cannot last the duration of their treatment. With a barrage of symptoms ranging from nausea, fatigue, appetite loss, muscle aches, and even depression, it is often nearly unbearable to keep up with treatments. This said a study conducted by the European Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2006 concluded that over 85% of patients using cannabis were able to continue their treatments with much less adverse side effects. This means that nearly 90% of individuals with hepatitis C are effectively able to complete a treatment process that far less than half of the patients are able to endure without the aid of marijuana. This is not to be taken lightly, as, without the substance, hepatitis C becomes infinitely harder to treat and manage. Somewhat surprisingly, it was also found that over half of the patients were able to achieve and maintain low viral levels in comparison to under 10% of individuals that did not utilize cannabis.
- Helps Manage Chemotherapy Symptoms. In the same vein as Hepatitis C treatment, several studies have also shown that weed use can also be beneficial for cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. Chemo can result in many of the same symptoms as those found in Hepatitis C treatments, which is once again where marijuana has its benefits. Additionally, other cannabinoid drugs utilizing THC has been approved by the FDA as well to aid in the process.
- Lessen Anxiety Symptoms. Anxiety is one the rise, with more people in today’s society experiencing its effects than at any other time in the past. Due to this, it is important to find ways to help people better manage their anxiety and continue to live happy and productive lives. A study out of Harvard University done in 2010 claims that another benefit of cannabis is the reduction of anxiety symptoms. The study found that weed consumption in those with anxiety resulted in a better mood and an increased sense of relaxation. However, it is possible that some user’s anxiety symptoms may worsen. This, of course, is the exact opposite effect that you would hope for while attempting to reduce your anxiety, meaning you may want to do your research and test how cannabis affects you before diving right in.
- Aid Veterans Dealing With PTSD. PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental condition that may include flashbacks, nightmares, or anxiety coming from a stressful or traumatic event such as war. Due to this, many war veterans may experience PTSD at some time in their lives. Marijuana can aid veterans, or anyone else dealing with PTSD for that matter, as the cannabinoids it contains are able to regulate the parts of the brain responsible for anxiety and fear.
- Aid In The Reduction Of Nightmares. In a similar way to people experiencing PTSD, cannabis can aid in the reduction of nightmares and ultimately result in better sleep quality. Whether or not these nightmares are the result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or something else entirely, marijuana can have profound positive benefits. Consuming weed before bed can cause an interruption in REM sleep which is the time that individuals may experience vivid dreams or nightmares. When the REM sleep cycle is stopped, this results in the elimination of potential nightmares that may occur during this time. This said it is important to note that for some individuals, interrupting the REM sleep cycle may also result in a worsened sleep quality that can lead to symptoms such as increased stress, mood swings, loss of memory or concentration, among other potential symptoms.
- Increase Lung Capacity In Tobacco Smokers. A study headed by the Journal of the American Medical Association tested 5,115 young adults over a twenty-year span, coming to the conclusion that while tobacco smokers experienced a decrease in their lung capacity over time, this was not the case among weed smokers. In fact, this 2012 study claims the lung capacity of tobacco smokers also using marijuana actually increased. While the reasoning behind this is somewhat unknown, it is theorized to be due to the deep breaths during the inhalation process.
- Improvement of Lupus Symptoms. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder whereby the body begins to attack itself, thus weakening the immune system, as of now, there is no concrete cure for the illness. However, the good news is that studies have illustrated that cannabis is thought to aid lupus symptoms because it contains chemicals that can relax the immune system, however, this has not been fully confirmed as of yet. What has been confirmed it its ability to make the symptoms of nausea and pain subside?
- Lessen The Chance Of Brain Damage From A Stroke. While no research conducted on humans, a study from the University of Nottingham found that weed can protect the brain from experiencing further damage from having a stroke, as it was able to decrease the area in which the brain was affected. Additionally, marijuana has also been used on individuals who have obtained a concussion, finding that it had similar benefits.
- Shelter The Brain From Concussion Symptoms. As mentioned, aside from helping reduce the spread of stroke throughout the brain, there has also been a plethora of studies that support the idea of cannabis being an effective tool in aiding the brain’s healing process following a concussion. According to a study outlined in the Journal of Cerebral Cortex, when mice were administered marijuana after a brain injury, the mice began to heal the damage in the form of bruise reduction. Once again, while this is not a study done on humans, these results are promising nonetheless as it provides us with the indication that cannabis may be utilized as a way to treat brain injuries in humans as well.
Overall, as shown in this article, marijuana has found a place in the medical community as a method of treating various ailments and a broad scope of issues. Hopefully, this article has shed some light on some of the amazing benefits that medically prescribed cannabis can offer for those in need.