23 Medical Benefits Of Marijuana

Background

Marijuana originates from the cannabis sativa plant, and it has immense medical potentials and benefits for curing multiple health disorders. Now experts have started changing their opinions about marijuana too. Recently, CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta  reversed his opinion on marijuana’s medicinal potentials.[1] Many people have the same opinion as Gupta’s new attitude when recreational pot consumption is controversial, and they all emphasize that this drug should be officially permitted for medical uses. At present, there are only 6% of studies on marijuana[2] that analyze its medicinal benefits.

But, never forget that overuse or using for non-medicinal purposes may lead to negative effects, such as dependency and mess with your memory and emotions.[3] This brings up the need for more in depth drug education like they have in more progressive countries in Europe like Portugal. Unfortunately in the US, the extend of drug education is just putting a label on marijuana that says bad which leads to misuse later on, but we will save this for another article. You will find two dynamic chemical compounds in marijuana which the researchers think have medicinal functions. One is cannabidiol (CBD) — that seems to impact the brain without a high— and different one is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving (and other) qualities. You can gain some of the health benefits of marijuana by taking a synthetic form of THC pills – Dronabinol – [4] which can be more effective than smoking. Now let’s see the 23 health benefits of marijuana.

23 Studies that Proved Marijuana's Effectiveness in Medical Treatment

  1. According to the National Eye Institute,[5] marijuana has the quality to treat and prevent eye disease – glaucoma, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.
  2. In a study, researchers made experiments over 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years for looking for risk factors of heart disease and found that tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but who used marijuana actually showed an increase in lung capacity.[6]
  3. A study showed, marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana were given to epileptic rats, which proved the active ingredients in marijuana, Cannabinoids, THC, could control seizures by binding to the brain cells liable for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.[7]
  4. Sanjay Gupta, in his documentary “Weed”, showed that marijuana decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet Syndrome, which a 5-year old girl named Charlotte had.[8]
  5. A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading. Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007 that CBD in marijuana helps stop cancer from spreading.[9] Cancer cells create new more copies of this gene than non-cancerous cells, and it helps them spread through the body.[10] Researchers treated breast cancer cells having high expression levels of ID-1 with CBD and found the result.
  6. A study done in 2010, suggested that marijuana helps reduce anxiety and acting as a sedative in a low doses, improve the smoker’s mood.[11]
  7. A research, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, said that the active chemical in marijuana – THC, slows the formation of amyloid plaques what kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s disease.[12]
  8. Jody Corey-Bloom made a study over 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles and found that after smoking marijuana for a few days they were in less pain.[13]
  9. Sanjay Gupta also found a teenager in a condition called myoclonus diaphragmatic flutter that causes non-stop spasming in the abdominal muscles which are painful and interfere with breathing and speaking. Smoking marijuana could be able to calm the attacks almost immediately, as it calms the muscles of the diaphragm.[14]
  10. Here is a study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology that found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hepatitis C therapy, whereas only 29% of non-smokers fulfilled their treatment, perhaps because the marijuana helps reduce the treatments’ side effects and increases treatment effectiveness.[15]
  11. University of Nottingham researchers found that some compounds in marijuana, including THC and cannabidiol help treat inflammatory bowel diseases. The study shows that the plant-derived cannabinoids in marijuana prevent the increased permeability of the intestines of the body-cannabinoids and make the intestinal cells bond together tighter.[16]
  12. Researchers announced in 2011 that marijuana alleviates pain, lessens inflammation,[17] and promotes sleep,[18] that can help relieve pain and discomfort for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.[19]
  13. A study, published in the American Journal Of Medicine, suggested that marijuana users are generally skinnier than the average individuals and have healthier metabolism and response to sugar.[20]
  14. Some medicinal substances in marijuana have a calming effect on the immune system to treat the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Ertyhematosus.[21]
  15. To find out whether there is actually any relation between marijuana and creativity,  studies tested participants on their ability to come up with different words related to a concept, and found that marijuana usage improved their “verbal fluency”, [22] and allowed people to produce a greater range of related concepts, seeming “to make the brain better at detecting those remote associations that lead to radically new ideas,” according to Wired.[23]
  1. A recent study in Israel, done on Crohn’s disease, (an inflammatory bowel disorder causing pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and more) explained that smoking marijuana significantly reduced Crohn’s disease symptoms in 10 out of 11 patients.[24]
  2. Because of being legal in Israel, medical marijuana is researched there a lot, and a recent research shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson’s disease patients.[25]
  3. For the first time, recently a proposal has been approved in the U.S. to study marijuana’s potential as part of treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.[26]
  4. Marijuana helps protect the brain from damage caused by stroke, by diminishing the size of the area affected by the stroke.[27]
  5. A recent study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex proved that marijuana can help cure the brain after a concussion or other traumatic injuries, by lessening the bruising of the brain of mice.[28] NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently declared that he might consider permitting athletes to use marijuana if medical research shows that it’s an effective neuroprotective means.[29][30]
  6. Marijuana can be helpful for the people who are suffering from serious nightmares, especially those associated with PTSD. Research showed the use of a synthetic cannabinoid could decrease the number of nightmares significantly in patients with PTSD.[31]
  7. Marijuana’s one of the most well-known medical uses is that it can help cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy by diminishing the side effects like painful nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.[32]
  8. Research shows that some people consume marijuana as it is safer than alcohol, prescription drugs, and other illegal drugs. Some of the most common grounds for patients to choose such substitution are the less adverse side effects from marijuana and the fact that it is less likely to cause withdrawal problems.[33]

Conclusion

So from the above studies, we can say that marijuana (or its constituents like CBD or THC) has effective medicinal qualities and can help relieve people of many physical, mental, or psychological problems. Marijuana has also been known to give physical and cognitive benefits to healthy individuals.

Final Thoughts

The current legal status of marijuana is sporadic being that it changes depending on the city, state, or country you are in, but one thing that is important is that as long as it is illegal on the federal level, it keeps research centers from being able to conduct further research on it, or makes it extremely difficult. We wrote this post to encourage you, no matter your stance on whether people should use marijuana, to vote for legalization for the sake of neuroscience. There is no reason that we shouldn’t develop science further when we have resources that could potentially heal millions of people who are living through chronic and terminal illnesses every day. The faster we legalize, the better medicines we will have, and the more people we can save. It is really that simple. Thank you for supporting neuroscience and a better world for everyone.

Sources

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/sanjay-gupta-changed-his-mind-on-weed-2014-4
  2. http://www.businessinsider.com/difficulty-of-study-medical-marijuana-2013-8
  3. http://www.businessinsider.com/physical-and-mental-effects-of-marijuana-2013-4
  4. http://www.businessinsider.com/effects-of-dronabinol-marijuana-pills-2013-4
  5. https://www.nei.nih.gov/news/statements/marij.asp
  6. http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/10/study-smoking-marijuana-not-linked-with-lung-damage/
  7. http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/307/1/129?sid=b91c50eb-5281-4d28-878a-43da4a2267ec
  8. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharda-sekaran/sanjay-gupta-medical-marijuana_b_3733143.html
  9. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/marijuana-and-cancer_n_1898208.html
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791144/
  11. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/medical-marijuana-and-the-mind
  12. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/mp060066m
  13. http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2012/05/14/cmaj.110837
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4357541/
  15. https://journals.lww.com/eurojgh/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2006&issue=10000&article=00005&type=abstract
  16. http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/335/1/92?sid=c09c62d8-996e-4071-bbed-ff8d46fca175
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224384/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349316
  19. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/08/can-medical-marijuana-help-arthritis_n_873189.html
  20. http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2813%2900200-3/abstract
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/
  22. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychology-masala/201204/cannabis-and-creativity
  23. https://www.wired.com/2011/08/does-marijuana-make-you-stupid/
  24. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/05/21/cannabis-treatment-inflammatory-bowel-disease-crohns_n_3311278.html
  25. https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/mds/39933
  26. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2012/11/03/israel-medical-marijuana-drugs/1678641/
  27. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/03/cannabis-may-help-stroke-recovery_n_4376100.html?just_reloaded=1
  28. https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article/25/1/35/365149
  29. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2014/01/23/commissioner-roger-goodell-marijuana/4797267/
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28767469
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19228182
  32. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/complementary-and-alternative-medicine/marijuana-and-cancer.html
  33. https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/1477-7517-6-35?site=harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com