Marijuana usage, whether for recreational or medical purposes, has been the subject of heated debate. The earliest record of marijuana use dates back to 2727 BC China, where it was primarily used for the treatment of ailments such as arthritis, gout, and malaria. Even then, the benefits of cannabis were evident, propagating its use and production. The use of cannabis, for both its psychoactive and medicinal properties, has since spread to other parts of the world, including Canada where, in 1801, the government distributed hemp seeds to farmers. Later in 1923, cannabis use and possession were criminalized.

In more recent years, a number of studies support the fact that marijuana benefits sufferers of certain ailments and can assist patients undergoing various medical treatment. This research has prompted several countries to decriminalize cannabis use. In 2001, the Government of Canada legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes by enacting the Marijuana for Medical Access Regulations (MMAR). Patients are becoming more aware of the marijuana and cannabis benefits available in Waterloo and Toronto.

The human brain houses the endocannabinoid system, which influences certain neurological aspects dealing with memory, appetite, and stress. This system contains cannabinoid receptors. Cannabis targets these receptors, creating a number of well-known reactions that are associated with marijuana use.

Cannabis has two active components: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the stimulant that causes a “high.” It can provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, and has neuroprotective properties. CBD is the “downer.” It acts as an antioxidant, relieves nausea and motion sickness, controls convulsions and muscle spasms, can inhibit the growth and spread of tumour cells, and has other benefits. Between the two cannabinoids, CBD is the one more often used to treat ailments since its various health benefits can be acquired without the high.

Medical marijuana benefits patients with the following health issues:

PTSD and Anxiety

One study indicates that “cannabinoid system activation” could represent a novel approach to the treatment of cognitive deficits that accompany a variety of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders.” The researchers gathered evidence showing that cannabis can decrease the occurrence of anxiety-related symptoms (including night sweats, insomnia, and depression). Based on this study, cannabis is considered useful in the treatment of PTSD and anxiety disorders.

PTSD is characterized by several symptoms, grouped into three major clusters:

(1) Avoidance (2) Re-experiencing (3) Hyperarousal

Although existing treatments for PTSD (antidepressants, counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy, etc.) create some positive results, they do not specifically target the symptoms of PTSD. Opioid-based medications are another treatment option that comes with a variety of side effects, including potentially aggravating the symptoms they are meant to treat — and addiction.

CBD inhibits addictive behaviour while bolstering one’s ability to cope with stress. Marijuana benefits some patients with opioid addiction, making it easier for them to overcome it and making relapse less likely. Also, the calming effects of cannabis assist patients during therapy sessions, boosting its efficacy, if cannabis is administered before the session.

Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS)

Physical pain is an accepted and necessary part of life. A key to survival, pain is a signal the body sends to warn of possible injury, inflammation, or illness. It is often temporary and can be handled without medication. When an injury has healed or illness has run its course, pain disappears. Chronic pain, however, is persistent, long-lasting, and often debilitating. It endures long after its initial cause has come and gone, often leading to depression and significantly reducing a sufferer’s quality of life.

Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting for more than 12 weeks. It can linger for years and is also largely unresponsive to traditional methods of therapy. Sufferers may feel overwhelmed by this condition, causing them to self medicate with strong and highly addictive prescription drugs like Vicodin and Oxycodone.

The legalization of marijuana offers CPS sufferers a more effective alternative to deal with their ailment. A recent Canadian study found that cannabis (particularly the THC compound) reduced physical pain and alleviated symptoms of depression and anxiety, with a reduced risk of side effects.

Medical marijuana benefits sufferers of arthritis, migraines, back pain, and fibromyalgia, and provides relief for many other conditions. It can also help patients deal with the pain, nausea, and other symptoms caused by treatments for cancer and hepatitis C.

Muscle Spasms and Epilepsy: How Marijuana and Cannabis Benefits Waterloo and Toronto Patients

Muscle spasms and twitches are common and affect almost everyone at some point in life. They range from minor complaints (foot cramps and strained muscles) to those caused by certain illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, and epilepsy. Traditional methods of treatment include homeopathic therapy and prescription drugs.

Multiple studies have proven the efficacy of cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces inflammation causing muscle spasms and relieves the pain that goes with them. The cannabinoid THC deactivates proteins that cause inflammation and halts the immune system’s painful response to muscle injury.

Two gold-standard studies conducted in the U.S. determined the effects of a drug that was 99% CBD on patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome. The results showed a statistically significant reduction of 40% in both the drop seizures (LGS patients) and the convulsive seizures (Dravet patients) who received the CBD treatment.

Sanjay Gupta (chief medical correspondent of CNN) reported one mother claimed her child with Dravet syndrome experienced significantly fewer seizures after CBD treatment (from 300 seizures per week to one).

Cancer

The human body houses a gene called Id-1, which can be found in both cancerous and non-cancerous cells (cancerous cells produce more of this gene). Id-1 encourages the spread of cancer in a body. The medical journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics published a study showing that CBD switches the Id-1 gene off, inhibiting its ability to spread, thus decreasing the number of cancer cells.

Neurodegenerative Disorders

Neurodegenerative disorder is a term used for the condition leading to a progressive deterioration of the nervous system. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, MS, ALS, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia fall into this category. These disorders cause cognitive impairment (memory loss and forgetfulness), motor dysfunctions (muscle spasms and difficulty walking), and behavioural abnormalities (anxiety, apathy, and moodiness).

The neuroprotective properties of cannabis can slow the progression of these diseases. Studies in Israel have revealed that cannabis can reduce tremors and pain and improve fine motor functions in Parkinson’s patients. Another study shows THC blocks an enzyme in the brain that produces amyloid plaque responsible for killing brain cells and causing Alzheimer’s. Cannabis has also been found to reduce pain and muscle contractions in those suffering from MS and ALS.

Because medical marijuana use has only recently become widely accepted, more research is necessary to further prove its benefits and effects on the human body. However, the promising results that are already on the books provide a legitimate argument for the use of medical cannabis to relieve pain and uncomfortable side effects from disease and other ailments. It provides a safer (and potentially more effective alternative) to some traditional treatments currently offered.

Find out if you’re qualified to receive a prescription and experience medical marijuana or cannabis’ benefits. Toronto and Waterloo patients can book an appointment with The Clinic Network by calling us at 1-855-462-3646 or emailing us at info@theclinicnetwork.ca. Following an evaluation, our educators will refer you to one of our physicians for a consultation and recommend a Licensed Producer that will provide you with the correct strain and treatment plan.

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