The legalization of cannabis in Canada throws up some important questions. Is cannabis really that harmless? Are the medical benefits of both medical and recreational use backed by enough scientific evidence?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) endorses the medical benefits of cannabis. Although research agrees that chronic users may have impaired memory, learning difficulty and processing speed, especially if they started smoking before age 16 or 17, the list of therapeutic benefits is a long one.
The reason lies in the chemical compounds in the hemp plant that have healing benefits. Although Cannabidiol or CBD impacts the brain without altering the mental state, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC has both mind-altering psychoactive and pain relieving properties. There are 400 other chemical compounds of which over 60 are believed to have healing CBD properties. Overall, there is definitive evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment for chronic pain.
Cannabis also helps with muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, treats diaphragm spasms and reduces depression with less risk of side effects that commonly comes with existing prescribed medications. There’s evidence that smoking marijuana does not damage the lungs unless tobacco is also used. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that marijuana does not affect the lungs and perhaps builds lung capacity because of the deep inhalation involved while breathing it in. Here are some other benefits:
Health Benefits of Marijuana
Treats Glaucoma: Medical marijuana is commonly used for treating and preventing glaucoma, an eye disease that may gradually lead to vision loss. Although the effects are temporary, researchers continue to find ways to look for compounds that can stretch the effects for longer.
Controls Epileptic Seizures: CBD is known to help control epilepsy seizures in children. Although the drug enforcement agency does not endorse marijuana as an effective treatment for seizures, cannabidiol has been seen to decrease severe seizure (Dravet Syndrome) in a number of children. The compound interacts with the brain cells that cause a seizure, calming down excessive activity.
Shrinks Tumours: New studies have shown that THC and CBD shrinks aggressive tumours in mice with the right dose. In 2014, it was found to slow the growth of tumours in 80% of patients with malignant brain cancer.
Decreases Anxiety: Smoking low doses of marijuana reportedly calms down those with anxiety. On the other hand, THC at higher doses is said to amp up anxiety.
Slows Down Neurological Disorders: Marijuana is believed to slow down Alzheimer’s disease, and reduce behavioural dysfunctions in dementia patients. In 2006, Molecular Pharmaceutics found that THC slows the formation of amyloid plaques that kill brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients. It reduces pain and tremors in those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, improves motor skills and helps them sleep better.
Reduces Pain in Multiple Sclerosis: After smoking marijuana for a few days, patients reported a decrease in chronic pain from multiple sclerosis. THC binds to receptors in the nerves and muscles to lessen pain.
Reduces Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Research by the University of Nottingham found in 2010 that CBD in marijuana bonds intestinal cells more closely together, disallowing bacteria from entering, improving gut function and immunity.
Decreases Obesity: Marijuana users are found to be less obese. They have a higher metabolism and better response to sugars, despite greater appetite and consuming more calories.
Increased Creativity: Researchers have found participants to have improved memory, verbal fluency and better performance in tests while using marijuana. The spike in retaining power and creativity is believed to come from the dopamine that is released in the brain during marijuana usage, which relaxes the brain, enabling better analysis and perception.
Like all prescription drugs, marijuana needs to be used with care. Whether you use it for medical purposes or recreational, make sure you buy from reliable, authorized sources.
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