States throughout the nation--more than 29 in total--have legalized medicinal marijuana. The term “medical marijuana” refers to using the entire, unprocessed marijuana plant or its fundamental extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions.
Numerous studies published in notable, peer-reviewed medical journals have addressed significant health benefits associated with the use of medicinal marijuana. However, further scientific evidence behind the plant’s benefits remains elusive, since the federal government classified cannabis as an illegal substance.
The following are the known benefits of medicinal marijuana:
- Treat Glaucoma - Cannabis can be used to treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma. The disease increases pressure in the eyeball, causing damage to the optic nerve and resulting in vision loss. According to the National Eye Institute, marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, slowing the progression of the disease and preventing blindness.
- Control seizures - Published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, marijuana use can prevent epileptic seizures. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in cannabis, control seizures by binding to the brain cells responsible for managing excitability and regulating relaxation. Additionally, it also decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome.
- Stops cancer from spreading - Cannabidiol (CBD) may help prevent cancer from spreading by turning off a gene known as Id-1. Cancer cells make more copies of this specific gene than non-cancerous cells, and it aids in them spreading throughout the body. Published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, after treatment, the cancer cells decreased Id-1 expression and were less aggressive spreaders. For those going through chemotherapy, marijuana can help reduce side effects, alleviate pain, decrease nausea, and stimulate the appetite.
- Pain relief - Chronic pain can have a debilitating impact on your physical abilities and your day-to-day activities. Some common causes of chronic pain include arthritis, back pain, chronic migraines, and nerve damage. Marijuana alleviates pain and reduces inflammation.
- Eases the pain of multiple sclerosis - According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, cannabis may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Patients participating in the study were in less pain after using marijuana for a few days.
- Helps those suffering from PTSD - Marijuana is approved to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in several states. Naturally occurring cannabinoids, similar to THC, help regulate the system which causes anxiety and fear in the body and brain.
- Treats inflammatory bowel diseases - Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, could benefit from marijuana use. According to the study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, chemicals in marijuana positively interact with cells in the body which play a pivotal role in gut function and immune control.
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