Health Benefits

Health Benefits

What are the Health Benefits using Medical Cannabis?

Prescription drugs kill about 100,000 people in the world each year. Off the top of your head, do you know how many deaths are caused by using Cannabis, either medicinally or recreationally?

Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School has observed that “there are no deaths from Cannabis use. Anywhere. You can’t find one.”

Believe it: In 10,000 years of known use of Cannabis, there has never been a single death directly attributed to Cannabis use.

Meanwhile, it is a fact that anyone can die from ingesting too much aspirin, or too much coffee, or too much wine. Cannabis, on the other hand, medical or not, is not only non-lethal, but most likely beneficial. Several studies, some published as recently as a few months ago, have shown that Cannabis use can be beneficial for one’s health, especially in treating conditions that are resistant to synthetic pharmaceuticals or traditional therapies.

While the plural of anecdote is not evidence, many common medical conditions have been treated using Cannabis for many years without proper clinical or scientific scrutiny. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in our knowledge of the physiological effects of Cannabis on specific conditions. Below is a brief list and explanation of our current understanding of the numerous conditions that Cannabis has been used to treat:

  • Chronic Pain & Head Aches
  • Glaucoma
  • Arthritis/Inflammatory conditions
  • Crohn’s Disease/Colitis/Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hepatitis C
  • Insomnia
  • Brain Injury
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Brain Tumor
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) a.k.a Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
  • Epilepsy

Our list of explanations will change over time as research becomes available. Come back often to get updated on what advancements are being made!

Chronic Pain & Head Aches

Chronic pain treatment and management are challenging for patients and doctors, but medical Cannabis may be able to provide chronic pain relief where many traditional chronic pain medications do not. Cannabinoids have well-documented analgesic properties that make medical Cannabis an effective treatment in many cases of chronic pain syndrome. In peer reviewed scientific studies, most medical Cannabis patients experience pain relief, especially in strains with lower amounts of THC. Patients using Cannabis for chronic pain also reported limited disruptions to their daily life activities. Medical Cannabis as a chronic pain management tool can reduce patients’ pain and improve quality of life, without the same serious side effects associated with the use of some pharmaceutical pain relievers.

Alzheimer’s disease

In 2006, the Scripps Research Institute in California discovered that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis, can prevent an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase from accelerating the formation of “Alzheimer’s plaques” in the brain. The same study observed that THC prevented protein clumping in the brain that can inhibit cognition and memory more effectively than commercially marketed drugs.

Epilepsy

A study performed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University discovered that ingredients found in natural Cannabis “play a critical role in controlling spontaneous seizures in epilepsy.” Dr. Robert J. DeLorenzo, professor of neurology at the VCU School of Medicine, added that “although marijuana is illegal in the United States, individuals both here and abroad report that marijuana has been therapeutic for them in the treatment of a variety of ailments, including epilepsy.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

It has long been believed that Cannabis use helps MS patients, and a study published as recently as May 2014 provided yet another clinical trial as evidence of Cannabis’ impact on MS patients with muscle spasticity. Even though Cannabis has been known to cause dizziness and fatigue in some users, most MS patients report Cannabis not only helps ease the pain in their arms and legs when they painfully contract, but also helps them ”just feel good.” Such a side effect is not as common in generally used pharmaceuticals.

Depression

A study on addictive behaviors published by the University of Southern California and the State University of New York – Albany in 2005, whose 4,400 participants made it the largest investigation of Cannabis and depression to date, observed that “those who consume marijuana occasionally or even daily have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried marijuana.” The study added that “weekly users had less depressed mood, more positive effect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users.”

Glaucoma

Since the 1970s, studies have called medical Cannabis an effective treatment against glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Researchers have observed that Cannabis helps reduce and relieve the intraocular pressure that causes optic nerve damage; however, proponents have also observed “reverse deterioration”.

Arthritis

Cannabis has been shown to be useful for many types of chronic pain conditions, but patients with rheumatoid arthritis report less pain, reduced inflammation, and better sleep. However, this is not to say that arthritis patients should exchange their medication with Cannabis.  While Cannabis eases the pain, it does nothing to ameliorate or curb the disease.

Anxiety

An article published in the April 2010 edition of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, Medical marijuana and the mind, observed that while “many recreational users say that smoking marijuana calms them down, for others it has the opposite effect. … Studies report that about 20 to 30 percent of recreational users experience such problems after smoking marijuana.” This conflicting observation can be attributed to one of the more common effects of THC in elderly users, whereby THC can cause an increase in heart rate (tachycardia) which can lead to panic attacks.  While this may seem disheartening to those suffering from acute anxiety, the observations made regarding panic attacks in elderly users (with an incidence of around 20%) were in response to the use of THC alone.  The onset of tachycardia can be counteracted through the use of whole plant extract that has higher cannabidiol (CBD) levels, since CBD helps to prevent the onset of tachycardia induced by THC.

Hepatitis C

A 2006 study performed by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that Cannabis helps improve the effectiveness of drug therapy for hepatitis C, an infection that roughly 3 million Americans contract each year. Hepatitis C medications often have severe side effects like loss of appetite, depression, nausea, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. Patients that smoked Cannabis every day or two found that not only did they complete their prescribed medication therapy, but that the Cannabis even made it more effective in achieving a “sustained virological response.”  This is considered the gold standard in Hepatitis therapy – there was no sign of the virus left in the patient’s bodies.

Cancer, HIV/AIDS and Chemotherapy

Though the drug is illegal in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and American Cancer Society agree that the active ingredients in Cannabis known as cannabinoids have been observed by officials to “relieve nausea and vomiting and increase appetite in people with cancer and AIDS.” The American Cancer Society says that “marijuana has anti-bacterial properties, inhibits tumor growth, and enlarges the airways, which they believe can ease the severity of asthma attacks.”  One study conducted in 1995 involving the use of cannabinoids before chemotherapy in eight children with aggressive tumors showed a complete prevention of vomiting with negligible side effects.  Many such small studies have been conducted in the past with most reporting successful reduction of cancer treatment related side-effects.

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