Medical marijuana has been in the spotlight for quite a few years now. It was first legalized in 1996 when California voters passed Proposition 215 and, since then, more and more states have followed in suit. Many states have actually expanded their laws to now include recreational use as well as medicinal use of marijuana—but common misperceptions about cannabis still prevail in cultural memory.
Modern research shows that marijuana can be a valuable aid to a number of ailments. Today we talk about x different medical marijuana treatments to give you a sense of how powerful this plant is.
- Pain relief
Millions of Americans suffer from physical pain—especially as they age. Although medical marijuana doesn’t have a strong enough effect to treat severe pain (for example, a broken bone), it does work quite effectively for chronic pain caused by back problems, arthritis, and so on.
Traditionally, doctors would prescribe opiates to treat their patients’ pain. This is problematic because opiates are extremely dangerous and addictive, but it’s impossible to overdose on marijuana, making it a much safer choice. It can also take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious anxiety condition caused by disturbing episodes, such as military combat or sexual assaults. PTSD manifests itself in many different ways, including insomnia, ADD, social isolation, and more. Cannabis contains a psychoactive property that can counteract these symptoms, helping victims sleep better and experience fewer anxiety attacks.
Not all vets have access to medicinal marijuana to treat their PTSD, though. Combat veterans living in California, for example, can simply go to their local San Diego dispensary and access medicine because they’re fortunate enough to live in a legalized state. It’s not always that easy to find medical marijuana because it’s still fully illegal in many other states, meaning PTSD patients must seek alternative anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications which aren’t always effective.
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve and, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. In order to prevent blindness, doctors prescribe treatments that target intraocular pressure (IOP), which influences the progression of the condition. Studies show that cannabinoids lower IOP and the reduced pressure helps alleviate glaucoma symptoms including severe throbbing eye pain; headaches; blurry or fogged vision; nausea and vomiting.
In June 2018, the FDA approved the use of medication containing cannabidiol (CBD) to treat epilepsy. CBD is one of the many substances that occur in cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and it has been shown to reduce the number of seizures in epileptic patients. Additional CBD benefits include better sleep, improved mood, and decreased inflammation.
- Crohn’s disease
Chron’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that results in diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, abdominal pain, and cramping. Marijuana may help Crohn’s patients by reducing the pain, controlling nausea, increasing appetite, and minimizing diarrhea.
- Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive disorder of the nervous system and eventually affects how someone moves, speaks, and writes. Hand tremors and muscle stiffness make it much more difficult for patients to move or perform tasks like they once did. Marijuana has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which researchers believe helps protect brain cells and prevent neuron damage. Other benefits include pain management, decreased psychosis, improved sleep, reduced tremors, and enhanced quality of life.
Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy suffer from intense nausea and vomiting, but evidence suggests that oral cannabinoids may be a safe treatment to alleviate these symptoms. In fact, cannabis is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite. Not only that, but mounting evidence shows cannabinoids in marijuana slow cancer growth, inhibit formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor, and help manage pain, fatigue, and other side effects.
This list of medical marijuana treatments is by no means exhaustive; this only scratches the surface of its healing properties. As research advances, you’ll see more use of the drug for multiple sclerosis, fetal hypoxia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington disease. Hopefully, as the momentum continues to build, more states will choose to legalize medical marijuana and offer its medicinal properties to its citizens. Until then, CBD is legal in all 50 states and may be able to alleviate the chronic pain and nausea associated with your medical condition—but consult your doctor first.