So what is medical marijuana for or what does it do to help?
READ TO FIND OUT!
More states and provinces are passing laws that allow people to use medical marijuana every year. So what does it treat, and who can and should use it?
Pain is the main reason people ask for a prescription, say many doctors and pain medicine specialists all over the United States and Canada. It could be from many things such as headaches, a disease like cancer, or a long-term condition, like glaucoma or nerve pain. Scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Much more continued research may lead to more medications. The marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a large range of illnesses and symptoms. Many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. A growing number of states and provinces have made for legal use of marijuana for doctors and patients alike.
If you live in a state or province where medical marijuana is legal and your doctor thinks it would help, you will be eligible for a “marijuana card.” You will be put on a list that allows you to buy marijuana from an authorized seller, such as a dispensary. The FDA has also approved THC, a key ingredient in marijuana to treat nausea and improve appetite. It is only available by prescription. Your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that affect pain, inflammation, and many other processes.
Not sure if it’s for you?
If you have one of these 10 ailments chances are it’s for you!
1. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms vary both in type and severity, but typically include pain, spasms, balance issues, tingling, vision problems and more. Research published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal found that cannabis based medicinal extracts can significantly reduce the spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis while having few adverse effects on patients.
2. Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal Cord Injury is caused by trauma to the spine. Spinal cord injuries are known to affect motor skills and can potentially lead to total loss function in some parts of the body. Research suggests cannabis can help patients treat the pain and muscle spasms that are often symptomatic of a spinal cord injury, with investigators from the Oxford Centre for Enablement noting that “Cannabis medicinal extracts can improve neurogenic symptoms unresponsive to standard treatments”.
3. Spinal Cord Disease
The term ‘spinal cord disease’ refers to any spinal cord issues that develop for reasons other than trauma. Multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, syringomyelia and spinal stenosis can all be considered examples of spinal cord disease. Patients living with a spinal cord disease may find therapeutic value in using cannabis based medicine, thanks to cannabis’ ability to alleviate spasticity and pain – two of the most common symptoms associated with spinal cord disease.
Responsible for about 30 percent of all deaths, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, according to figures reported by the Canadian Cancer Society. While cannabis can’t cure cancer, it can drastically reduce the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life for patients. How? Well, research shows that both THC and CBD (two of the key active components found in cannabis) can stimulate appetite, which may help with the weight loss, anorexia and cachexia that many cancer patients experience. In addition, cannabis is very effective at combating the nausea caused by conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
HIV/AIDS treatment has come a long way over the last decade or so. While modern therapy allows those with HIV/AIDS to live a long and mostly healthy life, the side effects of the treatment can be challenging to deal with. This is where medicinal cannabis comes in. A number of studies show that medical cannabis can improve many HIV/AIDS-related symptoms, including anorexia, weight loss, severe nausea and more. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found 97 percent of HIV patients reported improved appetite with medical cannabis treatment, while 94 percent experienced reduced muscle pain and 93 percent reported improvements to both nausea and anxiety.
‘Arthritis’ is an umbrella term that refers to the inflammation of a joint. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with some of the more common types including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms typically include swelling and redness around the joint, reduced range of motion, stiffness, weakness and severe, ongoing pain. It’s the latter symptom that cannabis is most effective at treating. In one study into the efficacy of cannabis as a form of pain relief for rheumatoid arthritis, researchers noted that “a significant analgesic effect was observed and disease activity was significantly suppressed”.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects almost 140,000 Canadians, according to data gathered by Statistics Canada. The disorder is characterized by seizures, which range from relatively mild (a moment of impaired concentration) to extreme (total loss of consciousness and awareness). Cannabis based medicines – and CBD-dominant products in particular – have proven to be very effective at reducing the frequency and severity of epilepsy seizures. With that said, medical cannabis should only be used in treatment resistant cases of seizures.
8. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The term ‘inflammatory bowel disease’ (IBD) describes disorders that result in inflammation of the digestive tract, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Research published in Digestion found that IBD patients experienced a variety of health benefits from using cannabis. Factors such as physical pain, social functioning, general health perception, ability to work and depression all saw notable improvement.
9. End of Life Care
Studies have shown that medicinal cannabis may also be an effective treatment option in palliative care, which could be vital in the years ahead as many nations come to terms with aging populations. Research published in Current Oncology found that medical cannabis could “provide further relief from distressing symptoms and spiritual suffering”, while improving patients’ overall quality of life.
Research indicates that both THC- and CBD-dominant cannabis based medicines offer effective therapy for a range of sleep disorders, including insomnia. Cannabis is thought to reduce sleep latency, induce drowsiness and improve quality of sleep.
11. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that is typically caused by experiencing a violent, disturbing or life-threatening event, such as military combat, sexual assault, a natural disaster and so on. It can manifest in a variety of different ways, with symptoms typically falling into one of three categories:
- Re-experiencing: Reliving the trauma via realistic flashbacks and nightmares.
- Avoidance: Emotionally or physically avoiding things that are associated with the traumatic event.
- Heightened arousal: Problems with sleeping and focusing, and being more susceptible to mood swings.
In years gone by, this trend was seen as problematic, but as we’ve developed a better understanding of the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis, we’re starting to see a shift in attitude toward the link between cannabis use and PTSD. Now, researchers are setting out to discover whether cannabis could be used to treat or alleviate the symptoms associated with PTSD.
Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. It affects the lives of many children and their families. It tends to affect more boys than girls. Once prescribed medical marijuana it can calm the patient right down. Patients have seen such an improvement since taking cannabis for autism, her mother says, she is now helping around the house and enjoying singing.
How Is It Used?
Medical marijuana may be:
- Vaporized (heated until active ingredients are released, but no smoke is formed)
- Eaten (usually in the form of cookies or candy)
- Taken as a liquid extract
Side effects of marijuana that usually don’t last long can include:
- Dizziness or nausea
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Short-term memory loss
More serious side effects include severe anxiety and psychosis.
Risks and Limits
Medical marijuana is not monitored like FDA-approved medicines. When using it, you don’t know it’s potential to cause cancer, it’s purity, potency, or side effects. Only people who have a card from a doctor should use medical marijuana. Doctors will not prescribe medical marijuana to anyone under 18. Others who should not use it:
- People with heart disease
- Pregnant women
- People with a history of psychosis