Health Issues that Marijuana Can Treat
Marijuana is a unique drug because of the medicinal benefits that it is found to offer. Another factor that makes it a unique drug is its widespread usage despite the fact that it is still illegal in most parts of the world. Although it has been legalized in about 60% of the U.S. and is soon to get that status in Canada as well, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). On the other hand, there is evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, regarding the benefits of marijuana in treating various health issues. The prevalence of contrasting views has given marijuana a unique status — both in the world of medicine and legislation.
Use of Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
While there is a long history of cannabis use for various purposes, researchers have found out that the drug was being used as a medicine before the development of modern medical science. Scientists have found evidence regarding its popularity as a medicinal drug in the United States and Europe during the 19th century. During that time, medical cannabis was being prescribed for various health issues, such as insomnia, migraine, cough, throat infection, menstrual cramps and labor pain. However, the drug was made illegal in the early 20th century, mainly due to difficulties in determining the correct dosage for different patients.
It was not until the late 20th century and early 21st century that the use of medical marijuana started, once again. This time, however, the usage gained international popularity. Scientists and medical professionals, all over the world, started to consider the drug as a potential alternative treatment for health problems that traditional medicines failed to cure or manage. Also, there was a significant increase in scientific research; researchers have been investigating the properties of the drug and its pharmaceutical preparations. Also, many pre-clinical and clinical studies and trials have been conducted to study its effects on humans.
As a result of the scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of medical marijuana for treating and managing various health conditions, the drug has been made available for medicinal purposes in many parts of the world. However, it has been established that in order to benefit from the therapeutic properties of marijuana, it should be used in form of approved cannabinoid based medications and not to be smoked. Also, it should be used only when and as prescribed by a doctor. But, the research regarding the medicinal properties of marijuana is still considered to be in the early stages and scientists are of the view that more research and long-term trails are required in order to fully understand the effects of the drug on humans and to validate its usage for medical purposes. This is because there is also some evidence about the negative effects that marijuana may cause.
Health Issues Marijuana Can Help Treat/Manage
Cannabinoids based medications have been found to be helpful in treating and managing various health problems, such as:
⦁ Chronic Pain – Cannabis has been used as an effective alternative treatment for different types of chronic pain, like post-operative pain, neuropathic pain and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. A survey conducted in California showed that more than 90% of patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer and migraine found medical marijuana helpful.
⦁ Epilepsy – There is some evidence regarding the effectiveness of cannabinoids, CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBDV (Cannabidivarin) in particular, for managing symptoms of epilepsy. The evidence comes from lab studies as well as from people’s personal experiences. According to the researchers, cannabinoids have exhibited anti-convulsive properties during the laboratory studies, however, there is a need for more clinical trials before they can validate the use of marijuana for managing epilepsy.
⦁ Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Research regarding the effectiveness of marijuana for managing PTSD mainly started after it was found to help military veterans suffering from stress, depression, flashbacks and insomnia. According to Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist who worked with military veterans who suffer from PTSD, some of her patients self-medicate with marijuana after the first line of medications proved to be inadequate. She said:
“I was really stunned and more and more patients were coming out of the shadows and disclosing to me that they were having some useful experiences with the marijuana plant.”
Some other diseases that medical marijuana is found to be effective in treating and managing are:
⦁ Alzheimer’s Disease
⦁ Multiple Sclerosis
⦁ Gastrointestinal issues, such as Crohn’s disease
⦁ Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD.
⦁ AIDS/ HIV (it helps to manage symptoms, such as loss of appetite, sleeplessness, neuropathic pain and mood).
⦁ Inflammatory Bowel Disease
⦁ Skin Issues, such as Eczema and Psoriasis
⦁ Marijuana has also been found to help with menstrual cramps by reducing the pain and discomfort.
Despite the fact that a lot of people swear by the benefits of medical marijuana for treating or managing certain health problems on the basis of their personal experiences and there is also scientific evidence to support their claim, the drug is still not considered as a first-line treatment by doctors.
According to healthcare experts, medical marijuana is mainly used as an alternative treatment (second-line treatment) for health issues that standard treatments fail to cure or where standard treatment poses serious severe side-effects. However, patients, all over the world, have been increasingly using medical marijuana because of its efficacy. The availability of considerable anecdotal evidence regarding the therapeutic benefits of marijuana has caused significant increase in scientific research and clinical trials. On the basis of the results of research that has been conducted so far, many doctors have started giving medical marijuana to their patients, for certain health problems, under their supervision.