Five Health Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is far from a trendy fad or a stoner’s joke. It is a powerful medicine that has been used for thousands of years. In Ancient Egypt, cannabis was commonly prescribed for glaucoma and inflammation. Today, it is once again being used to treat these ailments, and many others. Currently, 33 states, including Missouri, have legalized medical marijuana because of the miraculous science behind this drug.

How Does Marijuana Work?

Cannabinoid Image by shutterstock

Cannabinoid Image by shutterstock

If you want to understand how cannabis affects the human body, you must first start with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS ensures homeostasis, or balance, for yourself physiologically and even psychologically by releasing chemical compounds called cannabinoids. For example, imagine you cut yourself and the wound becomes infected. Your health is no longer balanced and is now compromised. However, your immune cells quickly detect the presence of bacteria and release pro-inflammatory molecules that tell other immune cells to come and join the fight. Simultaneously, your endocannabinoid system releases signals to limit the inflammatory response so it doesn’t get excessive. By carefully controlling the inflammation, your immune system can destroy the infection, and then return to balanced normalcy.

These cannabinoids are created naturally by our bodies, but are also found in cannabis plants in the form of THC and CBD. Cannabinoid receptors located in our brain, immune system, peripheral nervous system, and digestive system can be signaled, allowing the body to better regulate functions like immunity, inflammation, mood, digestion, and more. These cannabinoid receptors are commonly referred to as CB1 and CB2. When you use cannabis, its cannabinoids enter your body and interact with your cannabinoid receptors. These interactions are the source of marijuana’s amazing health benefits.

Read on to see five specific ways cannabis can help you.

1) Cannabis relieves Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is any type of pain that lasts a long time, and it  is the driving force behind the medical marijuana boom. Over 62% of medical marijuana cardholders nationwide use the drug for pain relief, according to a recent article published in Health Affairs. Since the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in how the body regulates and manages pain, doctors are excited about the role of cannabis in pain treatment.

2) Cannabis stimulates appetite

People who struggle to find an appetite, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or others on anti-nausea medication, cannabis can be a lifesaver. Cannabinoids found in marijuana like CBD and THC are infamous for giving users “the munchies,” or a voracious appetite. Doctors have found this effect powerful enough to override the lack of appetite that comes with certain prescription medication and treatments.

3) Cannabis treats PTSD

CBD and THC are capable of helping treat people suffering from PTSD by improving the endocannabinoid system’s mediation of essential functions including memory consolidation and retrieval. “We know very well that people with PTSD who use marijuana - a potent cannabinoid - often experience more relief from their symptoms than they do from a antidepressants and other psychiatric medications,” explains Dr. Alexander Neumeister of NYU Langone Medical Center.

4) Cannabis decreases seizure activity

A 2017 study showed a 39% reduction in seizures among children who suffered from Dravet syndrome when using CBD. Excited about the study, lead investigator Orrin Devinsky, M.D., commented, “We still need more research, but this new trial provides more evidence than we have ever had of cannabinoid’s effectiveness as a medication for treatment-resistant epilepsy.”

5) Cannabis relieves anxiety

When it comes to using marijuana to treat anxiety, less is more. While overuse of the drug can cause anxiety in some, finding the goldilocks dose for you can lead to a much happier, healthier life. Cannabinoids like THC can interact with systems in the brain to affect, and possibly reduce, anxiety levels.

Learn more here about getting your medical marijuana card!