More than half of the states across the United States have medical marijuana legalized to some degree, and still others are considering bills to legalize cannabis further. The FDA federally has approved medications derived from medical marijuana as an effective and useful treatment for two severe and rare forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. However, those two forms of epilepsy are not all that medical marijuana could treat.
Medical Marijuana Research is Expanding
Research in states where cannabis has become fully legalized is showing benefits for several conditions, diseases, and illnesses. Research continues to be critically needed in order to understand the many benefit marijuana has to offer the human body. Presently, marijuana prohibition has never been so loose across the nation, making research more readily and easily available in the areas where marijuana is legal.
How Medical Marijuana Works
Over a hundred cannabinoids can be found in each marijuana plant. One of those cannabinoids is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is one of the cannabinoids in marijuana that has been most extensively researched, and is the compound responsible for the “high” and psychoactive effects. Likewise, Cannabidiol (CBD) is the other extensively researched cannabinoid found in marijuana. THC, along with CBD, respond directly to the human body. This is because the human body can naturally produce our own version of cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids.
Our endocannabinoid system helps to regulate a variety of stimuli. While prominent in the brain, endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, which is what marijuana binds to when consumed. The THC or CBD binding to these receptors in the body can produce a range of effects, including relief from anxiety and depression, stimulated appetite, pain reduction, and for the THC aspect, the “high” feeling that can come with marijuana.
Medical Marijuana as a Promising Therapeutic Compound
In the United States, the efficacy of medical marijuana is currently restricted by the Federal classification of this drug being a Schedule 1 substance. Additionally, inconsistencies in this plant-based product from one grower to the next results in inconsistent effects among patients. However, current research suggests that medical marijuana can play an important, therapeutic role in pain management and seizure prevention for those with rare forms of epilepsy. Though this benefit is only useful for those with that form of epilepsy, the fact that it can save a life of someone caught in the middle of a seizure is noteworthy enough that even the FDA paid attention. This is a pivotal stepping stone into legalization across the country for medical marijuana.
Other therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana appear to include:
- chronic pain
- appetite loss
While anecdotal, evidence does suggest that medical marijuana also works to treat insomnia, hot flashes, and other psychiatric episodes.
Since Colorado and various other states have legalized marijuana, even recreationally, for several years, cancer patients from those states are able to report using the treatment to ease several side effects. The ability to control pain, nausea, appetite, and other side effects can have a tremendous impact on the recovery of health impaired individuals.
Depending on the strain of marijuana consumed, more specific side effects may be experienced. For example, a sativa-dominant strain can help to relieve migraines and headaches. Sativas are widely accepted as being energizing and stimulating for the brain. On the other hand, indicas primarily effect the body and anecdotal evidence suggests they can reduce chronic pain more intensely than sativa. Indicas can promote sleep, reduce intra-ocular pressure, and relax muscles to reduce or relieve spasms.
As research for medical marijuana grows, we unlock the mysteriousness surrounding cannabis, and determine what this plant can do for the human body. It’s easy to see there are many benefits to marijuana for certain individuals. As cannabis becomes legal across the United States, it will continue to help more people, improving the quality of life for patients. Not only will it continue to improve the quality of life for this country, but it will continue to be improved into a life-saving treatment for years to come.