By now, we've all heard of or experienced firsthand the benefits marijuana can have on our health. Whether easing anxiety or temporarily curbing a debilitating tremor, cannabis has shown a great deal of promise in the medical community, causing doctors, researchers, and patients to take notice.
From Parkinson's to PTSD, depression to Alzheimer's, the list of what medical marijuana is used for and what medical marijuana can treat continues to expand.
If you're curious to understand how medical marijuana can help ease suffering, relieve pain, and even improve mental health, read on to discover the innumerable benefits of this fascinating substance.
As doctors begin leveraging marijuana's benefits to treat patients, more people will begin seeking relief from cannabis to help manage pain. But medical marijuana treats more than just aches. Perhaps one of the most surprising is its effect on patients with visible tics and tremors.
This effect is clearly shown in the viral video of the man with a visible tremor, smoking weed on a couch. Shortly after he exhales, his involuntary movements dramatically reduce, allowing him to sit still enough for him to grab the handle of his cane. It's this kind of result that has patients and doctors alike so excited about the possibilities of THC therapy and the neuroprotective qualities of cannabis.
That said, there hasn't been enough research conducted at an official level to unequivocally say CBD and THC have positive effects on tics and tremors. However, the amount of anecdotal evidence continues to grow, with 80% of Tourette's patients individually reporting that consuming cannabis relieved some of their symptoms.
When we feel pain, our body is sending a signal from the pain source up the spinal cord to the brain. And while this response can be burdensome even in small doses, for sufferers of arthritis this pain signal can be persistent, lasting for days or months at a time and causing sleep disruption and difficulty performing daily tasks.
Just as a pain signal travels up the spinal cord, so too does a signal travel down from the brain to the source of our pain giving us a dose of pain relief. It's in this process, many researchers believe, where medical marijuana can help the most.
Among the multitude of things medical marijuana is used for, pain relief is perhaps its most common use. That's because cannabinoids are very effective at binding with the receptors in our body that regulate pain perception. While THC naturally stimulates the body's pain-relief response, CBD helps increase serotonin response and even promotes sleep.
This combination makes medical marijuana a great tool for sufferers of chronic pain who want to manage their symptoms naturally and promote healthy, natural responses in the body.
Chronic pain and inflammation can go hand-in-hand. Often when our bodies are out of whack in some way -- either due to an injury or an illness -- the natural reaction is to produce white blood cells to combat the perceived threat. However well-intentioned the body's response may be, inflammation can damage joints, create an imbalance of free radicals, and even signal to a greater problem, like an autoimmune disease, if the inflammation persists.
While medical marijuana often treats pain, researchers have started to observe the type of effect localized CBD therapy can have on inflammation. Like THC, CBD has a powerful effect on the body's pain-producing receptors as well, interacting with neurotransmitters to lessen the body's inflammatory response and protect vulnerable joints from deterioration.
So, in the case of chronic pain sufferers that might not want to smoke medical marijuana, experience the psychoactive effects of THC, and stink up their house in the process, localized CBD oils and tinctures might be a good option for combating inflammation and calming the body's pain response.
Due to the fact that medical marijuana is still a relatively new concept in the medical community with few tests conducted on humans, researchers aren't sure of the true extent of the benefits across more severe ailments and diseases. One area in which there seems to be some promise, however, is among skincare.
Approximately 12% of adult women and 3% of adult males suffer from acne. It can be physically painful, have a negative impact on mental health, and treating it can require a regimen of harmful medications. That's where the promise of alternative treatments, like medical marijuana, has shown potential to bring some relief.
Just like CBD, THC also has antioxidant powers with the ability to reduce the amount of free radicals in the body. These antioxidant properties may have anti-aging responses that could benefit skin and the production of collagen. What's more, medical marijuana helps with inflammation and, in low doses, helps reduce stress which, dermatologists agree, largely contributes to acne.
For those with acne that are curious about this method of treatment, dermatologists recommend vaporizing marijuana in small doses, as opposed to smoking, and avoiding sugary snacks when munchies inevitably kick in.
On a more serious note, research has shown that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for individuals with decreased appetite caused by chemotherapy. And while the thought of "the munchies" is often considered comical, the science behind our body's response to THC is actually quite fascinating and beneficial for patients suffering from chronic nausea and decreased appetite.
Our bodies regulate hunger with the production of leptin. When leptin levels start to get low, your hunger response increases. For cancer patients or individuals with suppressed appetite due to HIV, leptin levels are drastically lowered, causing the body to struggle to recognize when it's hungry.
Medical marijuana helps slow down neurons in the brain that send the signal to our body telling us we're full. THC's ability to dull this response allows us to eat more by delaying the sensation of being full. What's more, THC heightens sensations: Flavors are suddenly more intense and the act of eating feels more enjoyable.
And while that response might cause adverse effects in a healthy individual, encouraging us to polish off a bag of cheesy popcorn without a second thought, this response is incredibly beneficial for those suffering from decreased appetite, allowing them to maintain their nutrition through treatment.
There is still much to discover in the world of medical marijuana treatment, but as weed continues to become legalized, more and more doctors and researchers are going to seek the natural healing properties of this strong, little plant.