With more than 80 medicinal elements, cannabis can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Results can vary from patient to patient due to differing medical histories and body chemistry.
Qualifying conditions in California.
In 1996, California was the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Now almost half of the states permit the use of medical marijuana. Marijuana can be legally prescribed to treat the following conditions: anorexia, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, HIV or AIDS, glaucoma, migraines, persistent muscle spasms, severe nausea, seizures, and any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician.”
For more than 100 years, people have been using cannabis to treat chronic pain. Trials show that the use of cannabis is reported by patients to be effective in reducing their levels of pain.
In another trial with 56 human subjects, a 30% reduction in pain was reported by medical marijuana patients.
A recent study suggests that THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.
Marijuana has also been shown to help reduce the agitated state that many Alzheimer’s patients experience, and it can help to stimulate their appetite.
HIV patients have long turned to medical marijuana to help relieve their symptoms. One study found that patients had increased appetite, slept better, and experienced a more positive mood.
Research shows that marijuana may even help prevent the spread of the disease. In one recent study, researchers at Louisiana State University gave THC (the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects) to monkeys over a 17-month period and noted decreased damage to the immune tissue of the gut, a location where HIV tends to spread.
Marijuana may encourage temporary expansion of airways, but patients should be aware of possible long-term consequences: marijuana may cause a chronic cough and possible airway inflammation.
The American Cancer Society reports several studies showing that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) marijuana can be helpful in treating neuropathic pain caused by damaged nerves. A number of studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy.
Scientists have also reported that THC and other cannabinoids may slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells. The American Cancer Society also urges that cancer patients shouldn’t delay seeing a doctor regarding treatments.
Patients who undergo radiation as part of cancer treatment may experience side effects including nausea, vomiting, and pain. Medical marijuana has been shown to reduce pain and stimulate the appetite.
A new study from NYU’s Langone Medical Center demonstrated a 50% reduction in certain types of seizures. The Epilepsy Foundation has recognized medical marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy. In particular, it calls for better access to the drug, particularly a strain called Charlotte’s Web which may be especially helpful to kids because it has very low levels of THC, reducing the “high.”
Patients looking for alternative ways to treat glaucoma have found that it can reduce pressure in the eye. Since marijuana only reduces eye pressure for 3 to 4 hours, patients would be required to medicate 6 to 8 times a day to maintain lower pressure.
One study suggests that patients using marijuana derivatives experience less pain.
Another study reports that marijuana also has the potential to fight the inflammation that makes arthritis so painful.
In January 2006, investigators at the British Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Disease reported that the use of marijuana led to significant improvements in pain relief, higher quality of sleep, and reduced inflammation when compared to a placebo.
This guide is intended to be helpful, and it’s not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Always consult your physician before making any decision about the treatment of a medical condition.