Medical cannabis has become somewhat in vogue over the last decade, with proponents claiming that it can be used to treat a variety of ailments. But although its popularity has grown in recent years, this is far from a new phenomenon.
Long before cannabis found popularity as a recreational drug, it found use as medicine across numerous cultures over thousands of years. In fact, the earliest evidence of cannabis being used to treat illness dates back some 5,000 years ago.
And thanks to modern research, we can now see that our ancestors may have had the right idea. Marijuana can be linked to a variety of benefits, helping patients who suffer from a range of health issues. Here we’ll take a look at some of cannabis’ most notable benefits.
1. Relief From Chronic Pain
Among the first identified benefits of using medical cannabis was its ability to provide relief for sufferers of chronic pain.
This is because cannabinoids, the active chemicals in the cannabis plant, are able to interact with the endocannabinoid system in the human body. This network performs a variety of functions, and most of the effects of cannabis can be attributed to how it is affected by the presence of cannabinoids.
In this case, research suggests that cannabinoids interfere with the endocannabinoid receptor activity, dulling pain, and reducing inflammation.
That’s why medical cannabis is becoming a popular alternative to conventional pain medication. It possesses a far lower rate of addiction than opiates for instance. And the threat of overdose is virtually non-existent.
This makes it attractive to patients suffering from chronic pain due to injury. It’s likewise a potential treatment for diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and glaucoma.
2. May Help Alleviate Anxiety
Cannabis isn’t only limited to treating physical distress. There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that it has the capacity to help treat mental health issues as well.
In particular, it’s become a popular remedy for anxiety disorders. It’s believed that this is because of how cannabinoids affect the brain. By interacting with serotonin receptors, it appears they can help regulate mood.
Persistent anxiety is a common cause for patients to consider using medical marijuana. But even in states where you can find a medical cannabis dispensary, you will need a prescription first. For information on how to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis, visit https://namastemd.com/
3. Can Help Treat Depression
Similar to its apparent ability to help alleviate anxiety, marijuana has also been singled out as a possible treatment for depression.
Scientists at the University of Buffalo found that conditions like chronic stress reduced the brain’s natural production of endocannabinoids. When this happened, it appeared to result in depression-like behavior.
Since the cannabinoids found in marijuana are so similar to those naturally produced in the brain, using them to supplement depleted levels of the chemicals can potentially result in an improvement in depression symptoms.
In the United States, an estimated 17.3 million adults suffer from a major depressive episode a year. That number has resulted in a lot of interest in marijuana’s potential as a treatment.
4. Provides Insomnia Relief
There is an abundance of factors that can cause a person to suffer from insomnia. And with chronic pain and mental distress being two common sources, marijuana may be uniquely suited to treating it.
Certain cannabinoids have a sedating effect, helping users calm down. They can enter a state where it’s easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. And growers often produce strains rich in these cannabinoids for use as sleep aids.
5. Acts as an Appetite Stimulant
Patients suffering from conditions like chronic pain, HIV, and cancer often see a loss of appetite. This can either be from the condition itself or from medications used to treat them.
Some medications increase levels of leptin, an appetite suppressant, in the body. Others cause severe nausea that can make eating almost intolerable.
Over time, this can result in a wasting condition, further eroding a patient’s health. That’s why a popular application of medical marijuana is to stimulate the appetites of patients with severe conditions.
6. May Help With Weight Loss
Paradoxically, marijuana may be useful both as an appetite stimulant and as a weight loss aid.
A report comparing the results of two separate surveys found that obesity rates among regular cannabis users were actually lower than those of non-users. This is in spite of the fact that cannabis users reported higher caloric intake overall.
Researchers are unsure of why this is the case. Some speculate that the way marijuana interacts with the endocannabinoid system may be the cause.
In addition to affecting things like pain responses and inflammation, the endocannabinoid system also plays a role in metabolic function. The current thinking is that the presence of these outside endocannabinoids helps to optimize the metabolism and thereby reduce weight gain.
7. Improves Lung Capacity
Despite all of its associated benefits, surely cannabis use must be bad for your lungs, right? Well, not necessarily, according to some research.
It’s true that inhaling smoke and particulate matter carries certain risks. But at least one study seems to suggest that marijuana may have properties that help to mitigate these risks.
Researchers expected to find that marijuana damaged the lungs at similar rates as tobacco smoke. Instead, they found that moderate marijuana smokers actually had better lung capacity than non-smokers.
Above All, Medical Cannabis Can Improve Patients’ Quality of Life
As more research is allowed to be conducted, we’re seeing all kinds of potential new applications of medical cannabis. No one knows what kind of breakthroughs we might discover tomorrow.
But setting aside future applications, we know already that marijuana can improve the lives of patients. Whether it’s alleviating the symptoms, the side effects of medication, or just making it feasible to live a normal life, medical marijuana can be of great benefit.
And as always, for more health and lifestyle news and views to help you lead your best life, be sure to keep up with the latest from Bodhi Zazen.