Some experts believe the market for medical marijuana in the United States will be worth $5 or $6 billion by 2020. More states have legalized cannabis for medical use in the past few years. The number of patients across the US is increasing.
Despite all this, some people still think the popularity of medical cannabis is just a trend. Others believe medical marijuana patients just want to have fun.
Scientific evidence about the medical advantages of cannabis has been piling up. As researchers discover more, the health benefits of marijuana have become clearer.
We’ll walk you through some of the known medical benefits of cannabis. We’ll also take a quick look at some of the emerging science. There’s more to marijuana than meets the eye.
Cannabis and Chronic Diseases
Some of the first scientific studies looked at how cannabis could be used to treat cancer. Since the 1980s, researchers have explored the benefits of marijuana for cancer patients.
From these studies, we know cannabis can help control nausea and vomiting. It can also boost appetite, which is helpful for many patients with a chronic disease.
Some research has even shown marijuana could stop the spread of cancer. It may even be able to shrink tumors.
One of the best-studied benefits is the effect of marijuana on pain. From studies on cancer to work on nerve damage and back pain, research says cannabis treats pain.
Cannabis and Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons people seek out medical marijuana. Many studied have found similar results, which show weed helps with pain.
There are a few different ways marijuana can help patients manage their pain. They include:
- Reducing the sensation of pain. Thanks to the effects of cannabinoids, people believe they’re in less pain.
- Relieving inflammation. Cannabinoids like CBD have anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe swelling and soreness.
- Stopping muscle spasms. Patients with nerve damage or spinal injuries manage painful muscle spasms with weed.
There may be other ways marijuana helps with pain as well.
Benefits for the Brain
Some of the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids work on the brain itself.
Researchers are exploring potential benefits of cannabis for Alzheimer’s disease. This disease affects a person’s memory. It’s linked to changes in the brain.
At least one study shows cannabis could slow down the formation of plaques in the brain. These plaques are linked to Alzheimer’s.
Cannabis also appears to reduce the risk of stroke in some cases. Studies carried out on mice also showed marijuana limited the effects of a stroke.
For human health, the connection between epilepsy and marijuana is well-established. Research shows using marijuana can reduce epileptic seizures.
Cannabis appears to be especially effective with Dravet’s Syndrome. This rare type of epilepsy affects children, and it can be difficult to treat.
Medical Advantages for Mental Health
Another area of interest for medical cannabis researchers has been mental health. What can marijuana do to help people living with anxiety and depression?
The marijuana pros in this area seem to be wide-reaching. Research has looked at the effects of cannabis for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Studies of the cannabinoid CBD show it has effects on body systems that affect your mood. For example, CBD changes receptors that react to the chemical serotonin. When you use CBD, serotonin levels increase.
Since serotonin affects mood, CBD could help patients with anxiety or depression. Other cannabinoids, like THC, are sedatives. Using them can encourage people to relax and unwind.
Studies also show cannabis could help people with conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Help for Other Chronic Ailments
Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, which has receptors throughout the body.
These substances also appear to interact with other body systems. It’s one reason marijuana has so many medical benefits.
The immune system, for example, has cannabinoid receptors. Cannabis does seem to influence immune function. This might be one way marijuana helps with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
The gastrointestinal system also has cannabinoid receptors. We already mentioned the effect marijuana has on appetite and nausea and vomiting. Cannabis also helps patients with conditions like Crohn’s disease and colitis.
Even those who have irritable bowel syndrome may be able to benefit.
Medical Benefits for Everyone
These health effects aren’t limited to medical cannabis alone. Even recreational cannabis can influence health and well being.
Many researchers are now exploring how cannabis can treat everyday ailments. An example is marijuana’s effectiveness as a pain-reliever. It might make a good choice for headaches.
Another common use is as a sleep aid. The sedative effect of cannabinoids like THC could help people get a better night’s sleep.
Recreational marijuana benefits also exist for mood and mental well being. Recreational users may find they’re able to relax more. Some find cannabis sativa benefits their energy and focus.
The Promises of New Research
So many amazing benefits of medical marijuana have already been uncovered. Science isn’t done yet.
Researchers are already busy exploring other promising uses for weed. Some of these potential uses include:
- Treating diseases like HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, and many more
- Treating skin issues like acne and eczema
- Slowing down the aging process
It’s clear there’s much more to be discovered in this emerging field. Only time will tell just how much cannabis can do to improve people’s health.
Learn More about Cannabis
Many people in the US have already discovered the medical advantages of cannabis. Whether you’re trying to manage a chronic disease or you just want to relax, marijuana could be the answer.
If you want to know more about cannabis, there are plenty of resources designed to help you learn. Our blog is a great place to start. We have articles to help you understand how cannabis works and even how to choose the right products for you.
Take a look around, and discover more about cannabis.