Marijuana has remained the center of controversy for long. With its legalization in almost half of the US, the medical version of the drug is inching close to the positive spotlight. However, more research is still needed to confirm the benefits of medical marijuana for your mental and physical health.
So far, emerging evidence suggests that the main compounds of marijuana, THC, and CBD, are useful for treating some physical problems. It is valuable for treating glaucoma and helps manage weight loss and nausea as well.
At the same time, marijuana is known for delivering certain psychological concerns as well. These include anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, psychosis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Let’s dive into these merits of medical marijuana.
How can marijuana enhance mental health?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, roughly 43.8 million or 1 in 5 adults in the US suffer from a mental ailment in a given area. Moreover, 1 in 25 adults experiences a serious psychiatric concern that hinders or limits his daily life activities. That’s about 4% of the population experiencing such loss.
The numbers speak for themselves though, revealing how poor the mental well-being landscape has become. Not to mention, the number of cases of PTSD, stress, anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues are soaring.
In such circumstances, medical marijuana comes forth as a beacon of hope that may help patients deal with their poor mental health. For instance, research on the effects of marijuana on patients with PTSD has been promising as per the Harvard Health Publishing.
Veterans and their therapists have been noticing mental health improvements with the use of medical marijuana. What’s more, medical marijuana is applauded for its role in preserving memory.
A closer look at brain tests reveal that cognitive wellbeing declines as a person ages. The brain gradually degenerates, which can take a toll on the brain’s performance. Fortunately, cannabis present in marijuana can help in this case.
It enhances the brain’s capability and delivers therapeutic effect, which boosts information retention, focus, learning ability, and comprehension. These effects are helpful as the early signs of Alzheimers also surface with the decline in the brain’s performance.
Since Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t have a treatment plan in sight, managing the early signs is crucial. With its anti-inflammatory properties, marijuana can help strengthen the brain.
In fact, there is evidence that claims that medical marijuana can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Another 2006 study found that the active chemical in marijuana, THC blocks enzymes in the brain to slow down the accumulation of amyloid plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
Stress is another psychiatric concern that medical marijuana can help with. Cannabis present in the plant can enter the bloodstream and relax the body, promoting a feeling of calmness. Since stress drives the body into the fight or flight mode, marijuana combats that by calming you and uplifting mood.
Furthermore, the antipsychotic effects of cannabis on the brain can help to make it helpful for patients of schizophrenia. It can boost the capability of the nervous system by connecting and transmitting appropriate messages to different body parts. Owing to this role, a study has pointed out that cannabis can play a substantial role in the treatment of dementia and schizophrenia.
How does medical marijuana boost physical health?
Harvard Health Publishing notes that marijuana can help patients experiencing wasting syndrome and pain linked to HIV. It also extends a helping hand toward individuals with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham learned that THC and cannabidiol, the main chemicals in marijuana, interact with the body cells to improve gut function. These also work to enhance the immune response. Therefore, helping to deal with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
Medical marijuana is notably credited for its role in helping alleviate chronic pain. A substance abuse specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., shared his take on the matter with WebMD. Bonn-Miller said, "The greatest amount of evidence for the therapeutic effects of cannabis relate to its ability to reduce chronic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and spasticity [tight or stiff muscles] from MS."
WebMD also points out the positive role of marijuana on other physical health conditions such as appetite loss, eating disorders like anorexia, cancer, muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis (MS), and wasting syndrome.
The credit for the usefulness of marijuana for physical health goes to cannabinoids. These are the active chemicals present in medical marijuana. They share similarity with chemicals made by the body and involved in the memory, movement, pain, and appetite.
This is why research indicates that cannabinoids may help lessen inflammation and subsequently reduce pain, slow tumor growth and kill cancer cells, stimulate appetite among people with AIDS and cancer, and relax the tight muscles associated with MS.
On top of that, medical marijuana can help with boosting lung capacity as well. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association learned that marijuana doesn’t harm lung function. Instead, it may enhance lung capacity. Plus, a survey also concluded that there was no evidence of lung damage even among people who smoked pot daily for about 20 years.
There are also studies that suggest that marijuana containing cannabidiol can help individuals with treatment-resistant epilepsy. Numerous people have also reported that medical drug can help control their or their kids’ seizures. However, there are more double-blind studies required on the matter before any solid conclusion can be drawn.
Medical marijuana yields several health merits include enhanced mental well-being and improve physical health. To recap, marijuana helps relieve chronic pain, boosting cognitive performance, fighting cancer cells, and possibly improving lung capacity among other things. However, there is still a lot of research needed to confirm these health benefits of medical marijuana.
Author Bio: Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia