Health Benefits Of Marijuana
Health Benefits Of Marijuana
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – States around the country — more than 20 in total — have legalized medical marijuana.
Experts have been changing their minds too — recently, CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta reversed his opinion on medical marijuana.
While recreational pot usage is controversial, many people agree with Gupta’s new stance, and believe that the drug should be legal for medical uses.
And even though the benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, new laws will help researchers study the drug’s medicinal uses and better understand how it impacts the body.
Currently, only 6% of studies on marijuana analyze its medicinal properties.
Keep in mind, though, that there are negative effects of smoking too much pot or using it for non-medicinal purposes. When overused or abused, pot can lead to dependency and mess with your memory and emotions.
There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain-relieving (and other) properties.
Also keep in mind that some of these health benefits can potentially be gained by taking THC pills like Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC, which in some ways might be more effective than smoked marijuana.
Randy Astaiza contributed to an earlier version of this story.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – It can be used to treat Glaucoma.
Marijuana use can be used to treat and prevent eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.
Marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, according to the National Eye Institute: “Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.”
These effects of the drug may slow the progression of the disease, preventing blindness.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – It may help reverse the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and improve lung health.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2012, marijuana does not impair lung function and can even increase lung capacity.
Researchers looking for risk factors of heart disease tested the lung function of 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years. Tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot users actually showed an increase in lung capacity.
It’s possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking deep breaths while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – It can help control epileptic seizures.
Marijuana use can prevent epileptic seizures, a 2003 study showed.
Robert J. DeLorenzo, of Virginia Commonwealth University, gave marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana to epileptic rats. The drugs rid the rats of the seizures for about 10 hours. Cannabinoids like the active ingredients in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), control seizures by binding to the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.
The findings were published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – It also decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome.
During the research for his documentary “Weed,” Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treats their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC.
Their daughter, Charlotte, has Dravet Syndrome, which causes seizures and severe developmental delays.
According to the film, the drug has decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just once every seven days. Forty other children in the state are using the same strain of marijuana to treat their seizures — and it seems to be working.
The doctors who recommended this treatment say that the cannabidiol in the plant interacts with the brain cells to quiet the excessive activity in the brain that causes these seizures.
As Gutpa notes, a Florida hospital that specializes in the disorder, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Drug Enforcement agency don’t endorse marijuana as a treatment for Dravet or other seizure disorders.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading.
CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007.
Cannabidiol stops cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1, the study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, found. Cancer cells make more copies of this gene than non-cancerous cells, and it helps them spread through the body.
The researchers studied breast cancer cells in the lab that had high expression levels of Id-1 and treated them with cannabidiol. After treatment the cells had decreased Id-1 expression and were less aggressive spreaders.
In “WEED,” Gupta also mentioned a few studies in the U.S., Spain, and Israel that suggest the compounds in cannabis could even kill cancer cells.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – It may decrease anxiety.
Medical marijuana users claim the drug helps relieve pain and suppress nausea — the two main reasons it’s often used to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy.
In 2010, researchers at Harvard Medical School suggested that some of the drug’s benefits may actually be from reduced anxiety, which would improve the smoker’s mood and act as a sedative in low doses.
Beware, though, higher doses may increase anxiety and make you paranoid.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – THC slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study led by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute suggests.
The 2006 study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques are what kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – The drug eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.
Marijuana may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in May suggests.
Jody Corey-Bloom studied 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients didn’t respond to other treatments, but after smoking marijuana for a few days they were in less pain.
The THC in the pot binds to receptors in the nerves and muscles to relieve pain. Other studies suggest that the chemical also helps control the muscle spasms.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – Other types of muscle spasms could be helped too.
Other types of muscle spasms respond to marijuana as well. Gupta also found a teenager named Chaz who was using medical marijuana to treat diaphragm spasms that were untreatable by other, prescribed and very strong, medications.
His condition is called myoclonus diaphragmatic flutter (also known as Leeuwenhoek’s Disease) and causes non stop spasming in the abdominal muscles which are not only painful, but interfere with breathing and speaking.
Smoking marijuana is able to calm the attacks almost immediately, as it calms the muscles of the diaphragm.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana – It lessens side effects from treating hepatitis C and increases treatment effectiveness.
Treatment for hepatitis C infection is harsh — negative side effects include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression — and lasts for months. Many people aren’t able to finish their treatment course because of the side effects.
But, pot to the rescue: A 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hep C therapy, while only 29% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because the marijuana helps lessens the treatments side effects.
Marijuana also seems to improve the treatment’s effectiveness: 54% of hep C patients smoking marijuana got their viral levels low and kept them low, in comparison to only 8% of nonsmokers.