Under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes regulations, marijuana is available for patients who would benefit from cannabis treatment. Marijuana has been proven to be effective in relieving chronic pain, nausea from chemotherapy, and alleviating anxiety.
The two chemicals responsible for cannabis’ benefits are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC provides pain relief, decreases anxiety, and reduces inflammation. It also causes the “high” effect from marijuana, which is why CBD is usually used for medical purposes. CBD soothes nausea, controls muscle spasms, and works as an antioxidant.
Other medical marijuana benefits include:
Chronic pain is persistent pain that lasts over 12 weeks. This kind of pain can drastically affect a person’s quality of life. Depression and limited mobility are two major possibilities for a person living with this difficulty.
Marijuana is sometimes prescribed by physicians to reduce pain resulting from different medical conditions. Because chronic pain is often unresponsive to traditional methods of therapy, medical marijuana is sometimes the best option for a patient. Cannabis benefits a number of people with multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Muscle contractions are decreased and inflammation is lessened, relieving associated pain. In many cases of arthritis, patients are unable to sleep due to pain. Marijuana soothes that pain and improves quality of sleep.
Muscle spasms can be caused by different medical conditions, including epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. When muscles seize, there can be potentially life-threatening consequences. Leeuwenhoek’s Disease, in particular, causes spasms in abdominal muscles, interfering with breathing and speaking.
Traditional prescription drugs are usually ineffective for treating such spasms. However, marijuana can relax those muscles. Studies using CBD-based drugs show significant reductions in patient seizures when compared to placebo groups.
Marijuana helps patients experiencing muscle spasms by reducing the inflammation that causes their spasms, while relieving associated pain. THC deactivates the proteins responsible for inflammation and prevents the body’s immune system from responding negatively to muscle injury.
Harmful effects from psychological disorders (e.g. anxiety and PTSD), can be lessened by cannabis use. In low doses, the THC in cannabis helps users relax. (It should be noted that too much marijuana, when not properly prescribed, can contribute to anxiety.) Researchers in the pursuit of the “Goldilocks Zone” have found that low doses of marijuana reduce stress and anxiety, while larger doses contribute to increased anxiety and paranoia.
Marijuana’s ability to treat anxiety also makes it effective when treating depression; research shows that compounds in cannabis benefit patients with depression by adjusting endocannabinoid functions. This helps stabilize a person’s moods and ease symptoms. A side benefit of cannabis treatment is it also aids recovery from illnesses that have depression as a side effect (e.g. Hepatitis C). Addressing depression helps patients stick with their treatment, feel better, and heal.
Cannabis also has been shown to assist sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Several cannabinoids in marijuana affect the brain. In the case of PTSD, these chemicals can regulate the systems controlling fear and anxiety. This is especially beneficial to war veterans. However, any patient who’s suffered from trauma may benefit from the use of medical marijuana to treat their PTSD.
Cannabis’ ability to affect the brain also makes it a medical option for slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The herb has been found to slow the formation of amyloid plaque in the brain; THC blocks enzymes responsible for plaque development, preventing the unnecessary death of brain cells.
Certain cannabis strains may also positively treat other Alzheimer’s symptoms. A synthetic mixture of THC and CBD shows promise of preserving memory, according to one study. Patients with memory loss may use cannabis containing both cannabinoids to alleviate some of the damage. Another study argues that dronabinol (a THC-based drug) can reduce behavioural disturbances in patients with dementia. It helps to both keep patients calm, reducing the rage and anger that is sometimes a side effect of this type of disease.
The Id-1 gene in the body is often identified as the agent of cancerous growth encouraging those dangerous cells to grow. A study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics stated that CBD can deactivate the Id-1 gene, preventing cancer cells from reproducing. This theory is backed by other studies that show that tumour growth can be significantly slowed by marijuana. Cancer cells subjected to marijuana doses tested this way had lower levels of Id-1 and a decreased rate of spreading, making marijuana a viable option for cancer treatment.
Cannabis has other indirect benefits for cancer patients, including helping with chemotherapy side effects, which include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These reactions to “chemo” treatment can complicate recovery, especially by interfering with rest and sleep. Marijuana is used to stimulate appetite and decrease nausea. While this is a traditional use of marijuana for cancer patients, doctors are currently researching the use of cannabis to treat cancer itself, directly.
Fighting addiction is difficult; in most cases, especially if a person becomes both physically and psychologically addicted. Concerns about marijuana addiction have been mostly dispelled. Research regarding marijuana addiction is inconclusive, but cannabis use in Canada is currently regulated (as of this writing) to make it available only for medical purposes. For medical marijuana use, doctors will coordinate with the patient to determine a daily regimen and a suggested strain to meet their needs.
Patients dealing with severe addictions (e.g. to alcohol or opiates) can use cannabis therapy to help overcome dependence on those substances. A study found that patients detoxing from opioids were less likely to suffer withdrawal symptoms (e.g. insomnia and anxiety) if they used medical marijuana.
Alcoholism also disrupts the endocannabinoid system. Marijuana treatment can address this disruption by serving as a less harmful substitute for illegal drugs. Compared to opiates or alcohol, marijuana has fewer side effects and is less likely to cause withdrawal, making it a safer choice for weaning patients off addictive substances.
There is evidence to suggest that cannabis also benefits stroke victims. One study alleges that marijuana protects the brain from damage by reducing the size of an area affected by stroke. The research is inconclusive, but there is hope that marijuana can reduce stroke damage. Other research indicates that cannabis can protect the brain from other kinds of physical trauma (e.g. concussions).
Cannabis may also reduce the likelihood of suffering a stroke by increasing blood flow to the brain, providing more oxygen. Higher blood flow helps prevent blood from clotting, giving at-risk patients some protection from having strokes in the first place.
Cannabis also has metabolic benefits, and could help with weight loss. Studies suggest that marijuana helps users metabolize sugar more efficiently, making it easier to stay at an ideal weight. On the other hand, the herb can help stimulate the appetite, which is useful for patients suffering from treatments that make eating difficult (e.g. cancer chemotherapy and hepatitis C medication). When they begin eating again, patients can recover more quickly.
Although there is still more research to be done to prove conclusively that medical marijuana addresses a number of ailments, its benefits are definitely felt by many who currently use it. In Canada, users are supervised by a physician. At the Clinic Network, our medical staff works with each client’s doctor to establish a treatment that suits their needs. Make an appointment by contacting us at 1-855-462-3646 or send us an email.