The history of cannabis as medicine dates back thousands of years. There is evidence that marijuana was used in ancient China, Egypt, Netherlands, India, and Greece. However, many people today still do not fully appreciate its capabilities. In many parts of the world, the substance is still illegal. Yet, it is slowly becoming more popular and accepted.
Keep reading to learn the answer to the question, “Is cannabis medicine?” and other interesting facts about cannabis for medicinal use.
How is Cannabis Used as Medicine? What Conditions Can Cannabis Treat?
Researchers throughout the world continue to study cannabis and hope to uncover new uses for the drug. However, the substance is already proving incredibly promising when it comes to several different ailments.
Here are some examples of people using cannabis as a medicine.
Many people who opt to use medical marijuana have chronic pain that is not well controlled with other medications. Research shows that medical cannabis patients are better able to manage pain with marijuana and that it can also help them sleep better.
Loss of Appetite
Anyone who has consumed marijuana will likely tell you that one of the most significant side effects is increased appetite, often described as the “munchies.” Some patients have started using this side effect to their advantage when struggling with a lack of desire to eat.
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking marijuana has helped cancer and HIV patients increase appetite.
Some of the best evidence for cannabis as a medical treatment has to do with research done on nausea.
There have even been several synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of cannabis on the body. The FDA has even approved two drugs, dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) and nabilone (Cesamet) — to help chemotherapy patients deal with nausea. These drugs are most commonly prescribed to people suffering from nausea due to chemotherapy.
If someone is struggling with getting a good night’s sleep, they can find treatment with cannabis. The active ingredients in cannabis, known as cannabinoids, act very similarly to the chemicals in the endocannabinoid system found in the body. This system helps with mood regulation, and sleep/wake cycles.
Some significant breakthroughs have been made in recent years when it comes to cannabis-based treatment for seizure disorders. The United States Food and Drug Administration recently approved a drug known as Epidiolex, which is derived from CBD, to treat severe seizures.
This list of ailments is undoubtedly not exhaustive. As mentioned above, discoveries are being made every day that will hopefully continue to expand this list to help more people.
Legalization of Medical Marijuana
You may be wondering, “If marijuana is helping patients with these issues, why is it still illegal in some states?”
Unfortunately, despite much research and positive results, not every country and state are willing to legalize the drug fully.
In Canada, regulated medical cannabis was legalized in 2001. The country is also one of few in the world to legalize it recreationally as well. In 2018, Canada became the second country, behind Uruguay, to legalize all aspects of cannabis production and consumption.
However, many other countries do not take nearly as progressive a stance on marijuana as Canada does. In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Agency still considers the substance a Schedule I drug. This designation puts it on the same level as other intense drugs, such as LSD and heroin and makes it extremely difficult to study.
Many US states have different rules when it comes to cannabis. In eight states, it is still wholly illegal to use marijuana. Conversely, in eleven states, the substance is now completely legal. In another three states, the drug has been decriminalized. The remaining states allow for the legal usage of medical marijuana, with some of these states also decriminalizing it.
Despite these legality issues, it’s still possible for people in the US to receive medical cannabis treatment for various issues.
How Can Cannabis Be Consumed For Medicinal Purposes?
Luckily, there are many ways to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes. The variety of options will likely make it easy for you to choose the best one for your circumstances. Here are a few choices to consider.
- Capsules, such as dronabinol
Some people avoid smoking or inhaling because these methods cause respiratory irritation or issues. Those suffering from chronic pain, such as neuropathy pain, often benefit from topical treatments.
Are There Any Side Effects to Using Cannabis as a Medication?
Again, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to the research of cannabis as a medication. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before making the choice to use cannabis as medicine.
- Accelerated heartbeat – While cannabis has been shown to help with anxiety in some people, in others, it may cause paranoia that may make the situation worse.
- Depression – Although many people who suffer from depression turn to medical cannabis, some people have reported that the substance exacerbated their symptoms.
- Low blood pressure – Dr. Robert Kloner states that THC may lower blood pressure. Swift drops in blood pressure may cause you to pass out if you do not pay attention to how your body is feeling.
- Impaired judgment and coordination – Similarly to alcohol, you should never drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of marijuana. Additionally, you may feel compelled to do things that you would not normally do and should avoid high stress and decision-making situations.
As with any new medication, you should always be wary and listen to your body when first starting out. Be sure to start with a small dose of cannabis at first and slowly work your way up as you learn how your body reacts to the drug. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing a severe adverse reaction that could have been avoided.
Cannabis has provided many people with a viable and relatively affordable treatment option for dozens of ailments. Hopefully, as the drug gains legal provisions and societal acceptance, it will help people be free from pain and suffering and live their lives to the fullest.
If you are interested in learning more, check out the Cannabis as Medicine book. It will answer any additional questions you may have about this fascinating subject!