The marijuana plant has many distinct properties that can offer relief for many symptoms that can occur from a number of things such as disease or illness. As medical and recreational cannabis is slowly becoming fully legalized in all 50 states, people are looking at pot as a potential addition to their treatment regimen.
Its important to understand the effects of the chemical compounds found in cannabis. Check out this infographic below which helps illustrate the health benefits of different chemical compounds in marijuana.
Cannabis offers pain relief with a lot less side effects compared to other pain medications. Certain cannabinoids in medical marijuana have been shown to help ease many symptoms that come with chronic pain. Many of those suffering from pain due to a disease, illness, or an accident find relief from the THC and CBD that weed abundantly contains. These cannabinoids aid in alleviating nociceptive and neuropathic pain.
Nociceptive pain is classified as inflammatory pain that occurs from tissue damage. THC eases this pain by activating CB2 receptors on immune cells which reduces the body’s response of pain due to injury, resulting in a more numbing sensation. While THC does that CBD assists by blocking inflammatory mediators (these mediators act on cells to cause an inflammatory response such as swelling, redness, and pain) while also switching pro-inflammatory macrophage repair cells into anti-inflammatory cells.
Cannabis has also been shown to be beneficial in treating neuropathic pain, which is produced by damage to the nervous system, more specifically due to damaged nerves that can occur from illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
Another aspect that cannabis has shown to help is in increasing appetite. The THC in cannabis is able to bind to and activate the CB1 receptor, thus causing hunger. In addition, the activation of the CB1 receptor causes a rise in the hunger hormone known as ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite and speeds up the digestion process, as a result patients who use weed for this purpose experience an enhanced eating experience. While THC is known to increase an appetite, there is another cannabinoid in pot that can actually work as an appetite suppressant, THCv. THCv is able to do the opposite of what THC in terms of CB1 receptors, whereas THC activates these receptors THCv is able to block them, currently there are a few THCv products out as more research is being done on the health benefits of this upcoming cannabinoid.
Did you know that there is a chemical compound that was discovered in cannabis that can help decrease the feeling of hunger? This chemical compound is known as Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCv for its abbreviation. It can also help increase the ability to increase your focus and energy.
Marijuana use with the intention of easing anxiety can be a double-edged sword, however there are certain things users can do to make sure that they are able to achieve the result that they are looking for. Research has shown that lower doses of THC helps alleviate anxiety while taking higher doses tends to exacerbate those feelings. CBD, on the other hand, has been shown to be beneficial when taken in higher doses. As a rule of thumb, when choosing strains with the intention of relieving anxiety go for ones that are higher in CBD and start off with a small dose to get a feel for what you’ll be most comfortable with.
THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, is responsible for the encouragement of sleep. Cannabis has been shown to have effects on REM sleep, the phase in the sleep cycle where dreams occur. REM sleep is often hindered by smoking marijuana before bed, leading in a reduction in dreams, this may be perfect for those suffering from PTSD. Even so, be advised that getting enough REM sleep is still crucial for a healthy immune system, meaning that long term heavy marijuana use can backfire and result in a worsened sleep cycle.
The use of medical marijuana to treat epilepsy has been a hot topic for the medical community ever since the idea was first brought up. In 2018 the FDA approved Epidiolex oral solution to help treat two epilepsy syndromes: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex is a CBD extract that works by slowing down signals that are sent in the brain, by decreasing the excitability of brain cells the cannabidiol is able to put a stop to an oncoming seizure.
Cancer related symptoms can be eased with the use of cannabinoids. There are three medications currently approved by the FDA which contain synthetics that closely resemble the cannabinoid THC, these medications are Marinol, Syndros and Cesamet. Marinol and Syndros both contain dronabinol which is a synthetic THC that helps with symptoms such as vomiting and nausea from chemotherapy. The third medication, Cesamet, contains nabilone which helps increase appetite, this makes it useful in the treatment of weight loss for those with HIV/AIDS as well.
The use of medical marijuana can be a effective treatment for Irritable bowel syndrome. Our bodies contain endocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring molecules that are very similar to compounds that are found in weed, these molecules can help ease symptoms related to IBS. Endocannabinoids have been shown to preserve the body’s digestive system from harmful stomach acids along with painful inflammation. Although there is more research to be done, from what we know as of right now the cannabinoids in pot seem to have an effect on acetylcholine and opioid receptors and thus help soothe IBS symptoms.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can progressively get worse if not tended to and lead to complications such as an increased risk for heart attack and stroke along with damage to the body’s vital organs. Weed has been shown to act as a vasodilator that opens up blood vessels and allows for better circulation throughout the body. As mentioned before pot also has neuroprotective qualities that help treat neuropathic pain which can occur as a result of diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes often have difficulty in creating enough insulin for their body, research has shown that marijuana use can lead to an increased insulin sensitivity which may help in the production of this vital hormone. Inflammation caused by diabetes can also be eased with the use of a cannabinoid similar to THC called THCa, which is a non-psychoactive compound abundant in raw weed.