What is medical marijuana? It’s a term used to describe the use of the cannabis plant as a form of medicine. It is also known as medical cannabis, medical pot, and medical weed. The plant can be used to treat various conditions, such as chronic pain, arthritis, and anxiety.
Marijuana contains over 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoid is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for the “high” feeling associated with use. CBD (cannabidiol) is another important cannabinoid found in marijuana. CBD doesn’t cause a high and may counteract the psychoactive effects of THC.
What is medical marijuana and how does it work?
Medical marijuana is an effective treatment for many illnesses and chronic conditions. The cannabis plant has been used as a natural medicine in Eastern cultures for centuries. But it wasn’t until recently that its medicinal properties were discovered in the Western world. Today, doctors prescribe cannabinoids to treat:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Chronic pain
- AIDS-induced Anorexia
- Alzheimer’s disease
Marijuana works by activating specific receptors found throughout the human body, including brain ones.
The active ingredient of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC mimics a naturally occurring cannabinoid produced in the body known as Anandamide. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that helps regulate sleep, appetite, and pain. The effects of THC are vastly different from those of Anandamide. Even so, both cannabinoids operate on similar pathways in the body and activate receptors found throughout the mind and body.
The body’s endocannabinoid system is present at birth but doesn’t reach its full potential until maturity. Every human builds their endocannabinoid system differently with a specific balance of cannabinoids that work best for them. For this reason, scientists are beginning to understand how critical the ECS is to overall health, wellness, and disease treatment.
What is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the prominent psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. Like other cannabinoids, THC activates the body’s endocannabinoid system by working to lock onto the brain’s receptors that regulate pain, appetite, and sleep. THC has powerful analgesic properties that can treat chronic pain – especially neuropathic pain (chronic pain caused by nerve damage). Cannabinoids work to alleviate chronic pain by directly numbing the area affected. THC also has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce swelling and relieve pressure on weak nerves.
Is it safe?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize or approve any marijuana-derived drug, but this hasn’t stopped doctors from prescribing cannabis to patients in need. Doctors who prescribe medical cannabis must follow specific protocols when recommending THC or any other cannabinoid, just as they would with any other pharmaceutical drug. Because weed is not FDA approved, it cannot legally be prescribed as a treatment for any illness; however, many studies have shown that cannabinoids treat pain more effectively than opioid drugs.
When marijuana is used to treat pain, it works by shutting down the brain parts that process pain signals from other areas of the body. This causes mild sedation and dampens overall awareness, allowing patients in chronic pain to rest without feeling as though they are moving around all night. Patients who use cannabis for sleep complain of similar effects. Initially, they use cannabis to combat insomnia, but they report sleeping through the night and awakening feeling fully rested after a short period.
Is it effective?
Recent studies show that medical marijuana can effectively treat many common ailments, including chronic pain, epilepsy, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Chronic pain is the most common condition treated by medical cannabis. It’s estimated that more than 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain, and many are turning to medical marijuana for relief. The drug helps manage symptoms associated with various diseases, including fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer, arthritis, and spinal cord injury.
Patients suffering from MS find relief for their tingling, numbness, and muscle spasms by using THC in conjunction with other cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol). Research also suggests that medical cannabis helps manage the symptoms of epilepsy, including seizures. The drug blocks the signals to the brain caused by the seizure and re-regulates the body’s balance of chemicals.
Scientists are also finding that cannabinoids may help treat glaucoma by preventing increased pressure in the eye, reducing the stress on optic nerve cells caused by excess fluid build-up. The drug can also reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) associated with treating eye diseases, which may help preserve vision and prevent blindness.
So far, there isn’t enough evidence to recommend medical marijuana as a treatment for anxiety or depression. Additionally, marijuana should not be used by pregnant women or women breastfeeding. If you’re thinking about using medical marijuana, it’s essential to talk to your doctor first. They can help you weigh the risks and benefits of treatment and determine whether medical marijuana is right for you.