It does not look and taste like your everyday drug; however, cannabis is being perceived on a medical and legal scale as a cure for many health problems. Although the mention of cannabis has overtime stirred trouble owing to its illegality and abuse, today, the medical community has reached a consensus of the positive use of cannabis. As a result, many states in the United States have signed into law the legal use of marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes.
Like all good things that don’t come without an initial resistance, a lot of people out there, especially researchers require scientific evidence to prove that the substance has more to offer than abuse.
Besides, many are curious as to whether the negative effect would not outweigh the positives. Thankfully, researchers have identified that cannabis is making huge strides forward medically, and their claim doesn’t come without evidence.
Cannabis as Pain Relievers
One of the commonest use of medical cannabis is as a pain reliever. While most people take cannabis just for the elation or “high” feeling it promises, the pain-relieving effects of marijuana are just as well known in the medical field. This has been well known and documented for several years. What scientists are currently doing is to work out the ideal dosage and most effective method of administration for cannabis usage in controlling pain. Cannabis contains active agents that act on the receptors in the brain causing relief from chronic pain without a high.
Besides helping with relief from pain, cannabis is also a well known anti-inflammatory drug. Inflammation although one of the ways our body protects us, is a condition that is usually accompanied by pain.
In a study conducted and published in the Journal Future Medicinal chemistry, scientists confirmed that cannabis reduces inflammatory response by weakening disease symptoms. What the drug does is that it blocks pain messages to the brain so that the user can cope with the pain. By decreasing pain signals to the brain, the muscles become more relaxed. Some of the painful conditions include arthritis, migraine, and endometriosis. It also works for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Another use that researchers have found for cannabis is for treating glaucoma. This is a condition that occurs when the fluid pressure in the eyes increases. As a result, the optic nerve gets damaged and ultimately causes the patient to lose vision. According to a study carried out by the National Eye Institute, cannabis lowers intraocular pressure when it is smoked in people with glaucoma and people without it. However, evidence only supports that the effect lasts for a short period. Hopefully, researchers will soon stumble on the holy grail of how to transform it into a compound with lasting effect.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 2018, approved the use of cannabidiol to treat two distinct types of epilepsy. The medication known as Epidiolex can be used to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two rare types of epilepsy that are hard to control. Cannabidiol (CBD) among the many substances derived from cannabis is not psychoactive and has been found to reduce seizures in children. The medication, however, comes with side effects as most drugs and require a bit of research to evaluate the level of effectiveness. Besides epilepsy, doctors sometimes prescribe cannabis for treating other neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Treating Sleep Disorder and Social Anxiety
A review of all published scientific literature on using cannabis to treat symptoms of mental illness published in Clinical Psychology Review found evidence to support this claim. According to the review, cannabis does relieve stress and depression symptoms. However, it cannot be used to treat psychosis and bipolar disorder. While uncontrolled use of cannabis can cause social anxiety, medically administered medication can help to reduce symptoms of social anxiety. It also improves insomnia and other sleep disorders by reducing pain and anxiety.
The antibacterial effects of some components of cannabis are not as well studied as many of the other conditions that cannabis can potentially be used for. However, there is some evidence that marijuana constituents will make effective antibacterial medication. One such instance is in the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). More recently, research has shown that a component of cannabis known CBG kills MRSA. This is a bacterium that is tougher to treat than most of the other strains of staphylococcus. The fact that CBG works for treating a condition that defies other forms of medical intervention further strengthens the notion that cannabis as a drug holds loads of potential.
Heads up, cannabis cannot be used to cure or control cancer. But it still has some unique roles to play in cancer treatment. Oral ingestion and smoked cannabis have been found to be quite effective in treating vomiting and nausea, two of the commonest side effects of chemotherapy. This is not the only use case of such for cannabis as an additional treatment. Cannabis can also be used in managing weight loss in patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome caused by HIV.
In the legal landscape, the use of cannabis is still one of the most debated topics. However, from a medical standpoint, this is an opportunity to harness nature’s gift to solve medical needs. The saying about how the sky is the limit holds for cannabis and its medical application. There are still areas where the details of how marijuana works for certain conditions are not fully sorted out. These are frontiers that future research will explore and push. In all, research into cannabis is helping individuals as much as it is helping the industry and in the coming days, we can expect more frontiers to be pushed.