For many years now, the use of marijuana as a medical treatment has sparked controversy. The bickering is spurred on, in part at least, by the fact that pot is one of the most accessible and frequently used recreational drugs—in 2009, 16.7 million Americans age 12 and older reported using marijuana at least once within the month prior to being surveyed. Federal law and many states ban the use of medical marijuana, but Colorado residents in need of new, effective medical treatments have fortunately had the option of medical marijuana as a treatment since the passage of the 20th amendment to the Colorado state constitution.
In addition, many people are finding that legal CBD oil from the hemp plant is a potent and effective alternative to medical marijuana, and you do not have to live in the right State or have a MMJ card in order to get it. This is why by many, CBD from hemp is being called the new “miracle oil”.
If you suffer from or are at risk of developing certain conditions, medical marijuana may be just what the doctor ordered—literally. THC, the main active chemical naturally present in weed, along with other cannabinoids (active chemicals in marijuana), might be able to relieve pain, reduce the risk of certain diseases, and even help treat certain illnesses. Here are just some of the conditions for which medical marijuana has shown promise.
Chronic Nerve Pain
According to a study published in the Journal of Pain, a few puffs of marijuana can relieve chronic nerve pain. Participants in the study were supervised as they smoked a joint with either a high dose of THC, the major active ingredient in marijuana, a low dose of THC, or no THC at all (a placebo). Those who smoked the highest doses reported the greatest reductions in nerve pain. However, their mental abilities suffered, as expected with higher doses of cannabis. In another study, smoked weed reduced nerve pain associated with HIV.
Drugs that target the brain’s cannabinoid receptors might help fight alcoholism, according to a study published in Behavioral Brain Research. In the study, mice lacking the gene that creates a certain type of cannabinoid receptor in the brain were much less likely to prefer alcohol than normal mice. This suggests that the receptors play some role in alcohol addiction. It should be noted, however, that promising animal studies don’t automatically imply that humans would receive the same benefits; more research is needed.
In a study published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in marijuana, was found to have potent inflammation-fighting effects in arthritic mice. In addition, CBD interfered with the immune system’s overreactive, abnormal assault on the body, which is what occurs in rheumatoid arthritis.
One study published in the American Review of Respiratory Disease found that smoking marijuana helped to stabilize breathing after strenuous exercise. Participants inhaled methacholine, a chemical that causes constriction of the bronchial tubes; later intake of marijuana helped restore normal breathing. Participants were also instructed to exercise on a bicycle or a treadmill, and marijuana was once again effective in regularizing breathing.
Marijuana may be part of future medical breakthroughs in cancer treatment. Some studies suggest that medical marijuana may be effective against the progress of the disease itself. In a study in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, researchers found that CBD might effectively stop breast cancer in its tracks by inhibiting a certain gene, Id-1, which may play a role in the spreading of breast cancer in the body. Another study in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that THC may cause brain cancer cells to undergo a process called autophagy, in which the cells “commit suicide” by feeding on themselves. Gut published a study in which the cannabinoid anandamide, a substance naturally made in the body, was shown to stop the growth of certain types of colorectal cancer cells. Another study in The Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that activating cannabinoid receptors may stop the growth of non-melanoma skin tumors and the process of angiogenesis, the sprouting of new blood vessels that feed the cancer cells. Besides treating cancer itself, medical marijuana has proven useful in alleviating the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy treatments.
The picture with lung cancer is not as clear. A 2006 review of various studies, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that marijuana use is associated with pre-cancerous changes in the lungs, but ultimately failed to reveal a concrete link between smoking pot and actually developing lung cancer. However, various studies since then shown involving men who were also tobacco smokers, and another involving long-time pot smokers 55 years old and younger—have suggested that people who smoke pot are at a greater risk for lung cancer than those who don’t.
Medical marijuana may just be the wave of the future when it comes to treating difficult diseases. You should be aware of the following caveats, however:
- More studies are needed to confirm the beneficial effects of smoking pot.
- There are real risks to smoking marijuana, such as memory degradation and other cognitive impairments, a possible increase in the risk of lung cancer, and addiction.
- Medical marijuana treatments are not officially allowed everywhere as a medical treatment. Due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, even when medical marijuana is allowed on a state level, patients who are found to be in possession of pot can be prosecuted.
However, you can take comfort in the fact that medical marijuana as an effective treatment option may just be on the horizon. Future scientific studies will illuminate the amazing potential marijuana may have in promoting better health and longevity. But, in the meantime CBD oil from hemp just might be the answer for you and we recently wrote a full-featured article on it’s benefits HERE.