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The stigma surrounding cannabis is slowly being lifted with the help of clinical studies and breakthroughs. While the rest of the world is still waiting on the legalization of this medicinal plant, researchers are working to find out more about its many benefits.
There are several strains of cannabis spread across the world and people continue to cultivate them for their unique compositions. The term cannabis or medical marijuana seem ambiguous to most due to the number of cultivars that continue to pop up.
Any one of these cannabis plants can contain up to 400 chemicals, 70-113 of which are cannabinoids. Of these 113 cannabinoids, 2 of them are highly sought after for their medicinal properties: THC and CBD.
The human body produces its own cannabinoids, forming a network called the endocannabinoid system. Distributed between the brain and the immune system, cannabinoid receptors send signals throughout the body to regulate pain reception, inflammation, hunger, emotions, memory, sleep, and other activities.
Coincidentally, similar cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant. These cannabinoids are being studied to let us harness their full potential.
Cannabis and the Benefits You Should Know About
1. Cannabis can function as adjunctive therapy for people who suffer from depression.
Depression affects people with different underlying mental conditions such bipolar disorder, major depression, general anxiety disorder, and many others. The THC in Cannabis reacts with the cannabinoid receptors that are in the brain and regulates the emotional processing of the person.
2. CBD Oil Helps with Behavior, Cognitive Ability, and Sensory Perception
While smoking cannabis at a young age is frowned upon due to the brain still developing, there are other ways to utilize the benefits of cannabis, such as through CBD oil.
While empirical data is still lacking, there have been testimonials of how it improves behavior, cognitive ability, and the sensory perception of children in the autism spectrum. Physicians are given a guideline if the parents of their patients are interested in CBD products as a complementary medicine.
3. People with ADD or ADHD have a dopamine deficiency.
This is corrected by the prescription of drugs such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall. Controlled and mild use of cannabis can also stimulate dopamine synthesis and region-specific release, though further studies are still needed to properly determine the correct use of cannabis to regulate dopamine without disrupting or permanently disabling the person’s ability to regulate their own neurotransmitters.
4. Opioid addiction is a serious issue that affects even functioning members of society.
Weaning off from opioids can cause disruptive withdrawal symptoms. In an study that gave patients with a heroin addiction cannabidiol, or CBD, their cravings for the drug as well as their anxiety levels were reduced.
This is just one of the few experiments that proves cannabis may have a future in helping rehab patients totally withdraw from opioid use. However, a delicate balance must be maintained to keep patients from developing marijuana dependency.
5. Witnessing Alzheimer’s disease progress in a patient or loved one is heartbreaking.
Researchers are looking the ability of THC to remove clumps of amyloid beta protein in the brain, which are thought to progress Alzheimer’s disease. If a THC-based treatment is successfully developed, patients can be saved from the progressive development of the disease and other similar diseases that cause dementia symptoms.
For now, neuroscientists hypothesize that smoking marijuana during adulthood may prevent or slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s. Oral consumption of THC and CBD molecules is also an alternative to smoking.
6. An experiment conducted on rats to test the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on emotional processing holds hope for people experiencing PTSD and anxiety.
The researchers who conducted the experiment acknowledged that stress and anxiety induced by repeated or maximum exposure to trauma reminders can cause changes in the brain such as the impaired ability to remove fear memories and a constrained activity in the central stress response system.
Immediate administration of the synthetic compounds reduced PTSD symptoms, while tests subjects fared better later on compared to subjects administered with Zoloft. Researchers are now theorizing that cannabis use can help with anxiety and stress experienced by PTSD patients even when introduced later.
7. Currently, controlled trials are conducted to test the extent to which marijuana can help suppress the tics in Tourette Syndrome.
While more data and testing is needed, THC in cannabis is already recommended by experts for patients who are resistant to available Tourette Syndrome treatments.
8. Can be used for speech therapy.
While the exact cause of stuttering is unknown, most medical experts consider the condition to be a neurological condition affecting the part of the brain that controls speech. Stuttering can develop in different ages and situations such as from early childhood or after a traumatic event, while others seem to inherit it from parents.
Speech therapy and electronic devices are used to improve the speech in people experiencing stuttering. Medical marijuana is introduced to some older patients to relax their muscles and decrease the anxiety and stress.
9. Cannabis can treat migraines.
There are many different factors that can cause migraines. They differ in severity; some experience visual hallucinations, while others experience speech impediments upon the onset of a migraine. Some people will only experience migraines for a few hours or days while others experience severe chronic migraines that never seem to go away.
The compounds in cannabis that give it anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties promise an effective treatment for migraine and its other symptoms such as nausea and sensory disturbance.
10. There is a legal drug formulated from cannabis called Epidiolex used to treat juvenile epilepsies by reducing seizures through the oral delivery of cannabinol.
Due to this groundbreaking drug, scientists are optimistic that further experiments will develop a cure for other forms of epilepsy occurring in both children and adults.
11. THC in cannabis may hold the secret to treating eating disorders.
Food usually produces pleasure and satiety. However, some people experience anxiety and fear when faced with food. This adverse reaction can cause an abnormal and euphoric response to purging and appetite suppression, leading to anorexia and bulimia. These two are not just conditions that affect the digestive system, and could be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
A scientific investigation showed that a group of 30 women with these disorders had underactive cannabinoid receptors in the brain’s insula that connects eating with pleasure. This discovery suggests that the THC in cannabis may hold the secret to treating eating disorders by stimulating the pleasure response during food preparation, consumption, and digestion.
12. Marijuana can relief from pain, muscle spasms and cramping, and anxiety among MS patients.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the nervous system and it continuous to progress with no cure in sight. This damage seems to be caused by a malfunction in the immune system where inflammation affects the brain down to the spinal cord.
Over time, neurons and nerve cells lose their ability to transmit impulses and control body functions. Patients can only be helped by controlling the symptoms to maintain a certain level of quality in their everyday life. Anecdotal evidence supports the use of marijuana due to the relief from pain, muscle spasms and cramping, and anxiety among MS patients.
A survey conducted among 112 MS patients who use cannabis reflected a positive result. While there is a lack of clinical testing, these testimonials are enough reason for experts to explore the use of cannabis in developing cannabinoid-based drugs to help people with MS and spinal injuries.
13. Dronabinol was developed mainly for cancer and HIV patients.
This drug uses a man-made form of THC to control nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss during cancer and HIV treatments.
Cannabis was also found to reduce pain, leading to terminal cancer patients seeking relief from cannabis as opposed to opioids that can lessen their lucidity.
14. Traditional painkillers can have adverse, long-term effects on the digestive tract and kidneys due to the build-up of toxins.
Furthermore, some painkillers may even cause addiction. Some patients prefer alternative or complementary treatments approved by their physicians to lessen pain and improve their general state of being. Some of these alternatives are medical marijuana and cannabis oil.
Since cannabinoids are natural analgesic and anti-inflammatories, a dose will result in suppressing the pain receptors of the body and the inflammatory response of the immune system. These types of treatment are often sought after by people who have arthritis, joint and back pain, neuropathy, migraines and muscle and bone injuries, as well as post-surgery patients.
15. Cannabis can reduce the pressure inside the eyes to prevent certain degenerative eye diseases such as glaucoma.
When there is increased pressure in the eyes, the flow of nutrients to the optic nerve is decreased.
While eye pressure is just one of the factors that can lead to glaucoma, it is still important to regulate it. Research findings from as far back as 1970 support the effects of THC in reducing intraocular pressure.
16. The two main cannabinoids in cannabis may have different but positive impacts in enhancing the sleep cycle in individuals experiencing insomnia and recurrent nightmares.
CBD enhances the quality of sleep, letting you to go into REM sleep to allow your body to fully restore itself. A study was made with a control group to determine if CBD would have residual or acute effects when used to improve the sleep cycle of healthy participants. No side effects were observed.
17. Possible treatment for cachexia.
Cachexia or wasting syndrome is prevalent in patients diagnosed with cancer, AIDS, or other terminal illnesses. Patients with cachexia will experience a loss of body mass, mainly muscles, even when consuming sufficient amounts of nutritious food and supplements.
More often than not, patients will eventually lose their appetite, which leads to fatigue, irritability, nausea, and lethargy. Studies are carried out to find every possible treatment for cachexia to improve the quality of life of patients, and this includes exploring the use of cannabinoids.
18. THC, the other cannabinoid which can help insomniacs, can reduce sleep latency or the time it takes for one to fall asleep.
Some strains of cannabis, such as Cannabis indica, can produce relaxing effects instead of euphoria. However, studies show that it can have side effects which can affect the overall quality of sleep in the long term, requiring more research into its use.
19. Cannabis oil can help relieve some of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease is a serious condition that affects the digestive tract. Inflammation is the main problem faced by people diagnosed with this disease and inflammation can occur anywhere between the mouth down to the bowels.
This is an autoimmune disorder wherein the inflammation is caused by the immune system and can be aggravated by certain external factors. Cannabis oil can help relieve some of the symptoms of the disease even if it cannot directly impact the inflammation within the gut.
20. Two synthetic THC drugs, Nabilone and Dronabinol, has been found to help people with sleep apnea.
If sleep apnea is left untreated, it could lead to cardiovascular complications. The THC in the two drugs mentioned targets the nerves and the region of the brain that controls the upper respiratory muscles to regulate breathing and oxygen intake during sleep.
21. Night terrors are not just a sleeping occurrence that children will outgrow. It is a sleeping disorder that even some adults suffer from.
If not treated and controlled, night terrors can cause accidents, poor performance and decreased energy during the day.
Cannabinoids can be delivered into the system through inhalants, vaporization, oils, or pills that will signal the endocannabinoid system to maintain homeostasis within the body. Cannabinoids will also help the body achieve relaxation to fall asleep faster and achieve deeper, undisturbed sleep cycles to achieve optimal rest.
22. Preliminary tests show that cannabis may have favorable effects on the lipid profile by improving metabolism.
While these results need confirmation in larger scale studies, the positive findings may bode well for the development of future treatments for patients with hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases.
23. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) currently face no cure for their condition, though the symptoms of PCOS can be regulated by hormone therapy.
A study was determined that the endocannabinoid system may hold the key to discovering the cause and cure for this reproductive disorder.
This discovery could open up new studies to develop cannabinoid drugs for the regulation and treatment of PCOS. As of now, some PCOS patients use cannabis products to alleviate pain and depression caused by the disorder.
24. A pattern was observed in epidemiologic studies where past and current marijuana smokers had lower rates of obesity and diabetes.
This suggests that cannabis may affect glucose and insulin metabolism in the body. A study was carried out to check this hypothesis and it was concluded that the use of cannabis can lower insulin resistance and regulates blood sugar.
25. While THC stimulates appetite, CBD can do the opposite.
In a lab experiment, animal models exhibited a boost in metabolism, resulting in less food intake. Since the models were given different doses, the effects were varied but consistent. This could lead the way to a new wave of drugs that can suppress appetite and help people maintain an ideal weight with more energy.
26. An experiment proved that THC stimulates endocannabinoids in the bones.
This surprising discovery suggests that cannabinoid receptors throughout the body helps maintain bone mass throughout the aging process.
If this property is harnessed properly, we may find preventative and restorative treatments for osteoporosis, bone injuries, and other disorders that afflict the musculoskeletal system.
27. Even beloved pets may find relief from cannabis-based treats and medicine.
Sick and aging pets often have less energy due to pain and aching body parts. By providing them with natural anti-inflammatories, it could help their quality of life.
28. Allowing the commercial growth of cannabis and hemp may help with curbing greenhouse gas emissions due to less electricity usage.
Once they’re planted in a more natural environment, they can even help produce cleaner and fresher air.
We can expect more studies and research to receive more funding due to changes in regulation which can lead to the improvement of many lives.
30. While it may seem counterintuitive, cannabis can improve the symptoms of asthma.
THC has the ability to work the same way as salbutamol, the drug that relaxes and opens up the airways during asthma attacks. The suggested delivery of THC to help treat asthma is through vaporization.