Medical Uses of Marijuana

By now, thanks to people like Dr. Oz and the overwhelming number of people coming forward, we all know that marijuana contains properties that are being used to treat medical conditions and to relieve pain and suffering for those with debilitating conditions.  In the last few years, many different conditions have been treated with cannabis and studied for their efficacy.  The healing properties of cannabis have been used for thousands of years to treat various ailments, but the plant has been illegal in American and Canadian culture until recently.  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana and its cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substances.  This means that they cannot legally be prescribed, possessed, or sold under federal law.  Whole or crude marijuana (including marijuana oil or hemp oil) is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical use.  Despite this Federal level prohibition, the use of marijuana to treat some medical conditions is legal under state law in many states.  Today, doctors in legal states prescribe medicinal cannabis as a treatment for issues such as sleeping disorders, aches and pains, and eating conditions related to other medical treatments like chemotherapy. Simply put, the list of Illnesses treatable with medical cannabis is vast.  As of now, nearly half of the United States have legalized marijuana for medical use, Canada has legalized cannabis for medical use and will be legalizing recreational use in 2018.  Several online dispensaries like Green Panther allow online sales of marijuana to those 19 and over.  More and more U.S. states are beginning to legalizing cannabis for medical use.  Here are a few of the more striking examples of medical use:

Epilepsy and Seizures

You have probably already heard about this one. It’s been making headlines as more and more parents with epileptic children have been advocating for medical marijuana as a legal treatment.  Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in marijuana that does not contain psychoactive properties (meaning that it doesn’t get you high), is being used to treat children and adults with epilepsy or who suffer from seizures.  In 2015, researchers at NYU found a 50 percent decrease in the frequency of seizures for people using CBD.  There are dozens, if not hundreds of videos on Facebook and YouTube showing how powerful cannabis can be in remediating a seizure.  Several lines of evidence now suggest that cannabinoid compounds are anti-convulsants.  Empirical evidence in children is establishing conclusively that cannabinoid therapy may be the single most effective treatment available for epileptics.  Cannabis works by modulating neuro-excitation (keeping the neurons and synapses from getting overly excited which causes seizures).

Alzheimer’s

Cannabis is being used to ease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients.  These symptoms often include aggression, anxiety, depression, insomnia and hallucinations (not the good kind).  More importantly, however, cannabis has been proven to slow the production of beta-amyloid proteins, which scientists think are the main contributors to the progression of Alzheimer’s.  This means that the plant could potentially be able to prevent or at least delay the onset of the disease.  The ancients called cannabis the youth drug, as it kept the elder generation in a state of young-mindedness.

Multiple Sclerosis

Per early-stage studies, patients who used cannabis experienced a major decline in muscle spasms, tremors, pain and muscle stiffness.  Participants who were given cannabis extracts were found to have experienced better sleep quality during the trial than those who weren’t.  When your muscles ache constantly, sleep is a blessing.  It has been shown that CBD helps treat symptoms by preventing immune system cells from mutating and attacking the insulating covers of nerve cells in the spinal cord.  Mice having had an MS-like condition induced by partially paralyzing their limbs, we then given injections of cannabinoids. The mice responded by regaining movement, first twitching their tails and then beginning to walk normally again within minutes.  It was noted that the mice treated with CBD had much less inflammation in the spinal cord than their untreated counterparts.  This shows that cannabis has a direct impact on the slowing and eventual reversal of MS.  It is to be noted that after significant damage to the myelin sheath cannabis is no longer able to restore muscle function. Early detection is key to success.

Cancer

Now you know that medicinal marijuana is useful for pain relief and for treating the symptoms of illnesses.  But did you know that more people are turning to marijuana, not as just a pain reliever but as a possible cure?

Cannabinoids, the active components of marijuana, inhibit tumor growth and can kill cancer cells. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant, targets cannabinoid receptors similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors.  Researchers have now found that CBD can ‘switch off’ the gene responsible for metastasis (spreading of the cancer to other organs) in aggressive forms of cancer. Importantly, this substance does not produce the psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant.

Cannabis has been used to treat different forms of cancers, ranging from brain cancer, melanoma and even Glioblastoma Multiforme – one of the most difficult cancers to treat.  This cancer seldom responds to any medical intervention, especially conventional methods which poison and basically destroy surrounding cells, such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.

As you can clearly see, the cannabis plant is a miracle, provided by nature, to heal our ills.

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