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10 Diseases You Can Treat Using Cannabis

Patients prefer medical cannabis treatment for a number of reasons. First, it is a natural kind of therapy since it is plant-based. Second, undesirable side effects are reportedly minimal or negligible. Marijuana is also versatile because it can be introduced into the human body in many ways. It is traditionally smoked, but it can also be ingested in liquid form such as cannabis oil or cannabis tinctures. There are also cannabis edibles or food with cannabis component, like brownies and cookies. Then there are synthetic medical cannabis products that come in traditional medicine form like pills, tablets, and even patches and suppositories.

Why Marijuana Works

The key to marijuana’s profound therapeutic or healing effects is the presence of chemicals called cannabinoids. These enhance the natural cannabinoids found in the human endocannabinoid system or ECS. The ECS is responsible for many bodily functions and states, such as mood, memory, and pain. Thus, improving the endocannabinoid system helps address diseases, ailments, illnesses, and many other mental and emotional conditions.

There are around a hundred types of cannabinoids found in marijuana or cannabis, but the most relevant ones for humans are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is actually the substance responsible for the famous “high” or altered state of consciousness that recreational marijuana users feel, and which has led to the negative reputation of marijuana as a banned substance. However, such a state is not completely “bad” as it does serve a good purpose for those suffering from diseases. When marijuana is utilized in a moderated manner, THC may bring about a sense of peace and well-being, especially among patients suffering from mental disorders.

CBD on the other hand is the more therapeutic cannabinoid that acts in a more direct way against ailments such as pain, inflammation, etc. In tandem, THC and CBD actually make a great formulation for addressing a wide range of diseases. Most medical marijuana products offer a balanced proportion of both THC and CBD especially for first-time or general users.

Marijuana and Diseases

More and more, people are discovering that marijuana or cannabis is beneficial to human health. This is not really something new because marijuana has been consumed by ancient civilizations for centuries. Looking at historical records, marijuana or cannabis has been part of the health regimen of many countries and societies around the globe—from China, Greece and Ancient Rome to the Middle East and even North America.

These cultures were aware that cannabis helps alleviate a lot of physical discomfort and enhances overall health and well-being. Today, people are rediscovering such wisdom and even using cannabis for dreaded diseases for which modern science has not had a cure for. So far, here are the top 10 diseases and medical conditions where medical marijuana or cannabis has been observed to have a positive impact:

  1. Cancer
    Individuals suffering from cancer often seek medical marijuana not much with the intention to address the malignancy itself, but to manage the debilitating symptoms of the disease, as well as the side effects of chemotherapy. These include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, chronic pain, and many more. Medical marijuana provides cancer patients with a better sense of well-being not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. This improves their overall immune system and helps them endure the treatment and maintain their quality of life.
  2. HIV/AIDS
    Similarly, HIV-positive individuals are utilizing medical marijuana or cannabis to help manage the symptoms of AIDS. These people often endure long-term and chronic conditions such as pain, inflammation, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, skin disease, and hair loss. These are the physical manifestations of various diseases that they acquire due to their compromised immune system. Additionally, they also struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Medical marijuana profoundly improves the lives of AIDS patients and helps them live normal, more productive lives.
  3. Alzheimer’s
    Alzheimer’s disease afflicts millions of senior citizens and affects them not only physically but mentally and emotionally. The burden is not only on them but on their loved ones and caregivers as well. Thus, continuous intensive research is being done to learn more about this neurological disease and how it can be treated or addressed. Medical cannabis has been found to slow down the progress of protein deposits in the brain, which is believed to be the cause of Alzheimer’s and its physical manifestations of forgetfulness, mood swings, loss of physical coordination and movement, and many other symptoms. Medical marijuana has been observed to decrease aggressive behavior among Alzheimer’s patients, and even help them gain weight and be more physically strong.
  4. Arthritis
    Arthritis is a fairly common ailment especially among the elderly, and it is quite debilitating. Pain and inflammation in the joints — from the fingers and wrist to the knees and feet — often limit one’s movement and thus decrease mobility and overall quality of life. One study involving the use of medical marijuana among arthritis patients has shown that their pain decreased, which led to better and more restful sleep. Other studies also affirmed that cannabis helps control joint inflammation.
  5. Asthma
    Some early studies have illustrated that marijuana helps reduce or relieve asthma or shortness of breath due to exercise or physical movement. The idea is that smoking marijuana dilates the air passageways, but in some patients, they experienced the opposite effect which is tightness and constriction. It is actually healthier for patients with asthma to consume marijuana by ingesting marijuana-infused oils, tinctures, and edibles. This minimizes exposure to smoke and pollutants which can trigger allergic reactions or worsen existing respiratory issues.
  6. Chronic Pain
    Chronic pain can be caused by many factors—conditions like multiple sclerosis, physical accidents, or even extreme stress. Marijuana has long been known to relieve pain, and in fact, people widely and openly used them for such purpose in the 1800s. Those suffering from chronic and constant pain now also seek relief using medical cannabis, to great satisfaction. Marijuana is often seen as a better alternative to prescription medication, which can cause addiction. Patients who use painkiller drugs often develop a high tolerance for them, and thus need higher and higher doses of medicine to keep the pain at bay.
  7. Epilepsy
    Medical marijuana’s positive effects on epilepsy patients is one of the most talked about and widely circulated in the Internet, particularly because of its dramatic visible effects. Many viral videos abound these days showing children and adults suffering from uncontrollable seizures, the occurrence of which were dramatically reduced when the patient was given marijuana or cannabis. Initial clinical trials of medical cannabis for epilepsy at the NYU Langone Medical Center reported as much as 50 percent reduction in the frequency of seizures in both pediatric and adult patients.
  8. Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that is associated with increased intraocular pressure, which in turn affects and damages the optic nerve, leading to loss of vision or blindness. In fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness all over the world. Scientists have discovered that medical marijuana and its THC component in particular may lower eye pressure and take care of the optical nerve. Such treatment may potentially save a lot of people from surgery, which is the only permanent and most effective solution to glaucoma right now.
  9. Crohn’s Disease
    Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of one’s digestive tract, which leads to constant abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, and eventual weight loss. In a study involving a small group of people with the disease, it has been found that cannabis helped ease the pain and resolved chronic diarrhea. These patients also regained lost weight and resumed healthy appetite. Thus, medical marijuana or cannabis holds a lot of potential as part of the overall treatment of Crohn’s, which is lifestyle management—exercise, a healthy diet, and other anti-inflammatory drugs.
  10. Multiple Sclerosis
    Multiple sclerosis or MS is a major neurological disease. It involves demyelination or damage to the insulating outer cover of nerves especially in the brain and the spinal cord. This leads to disruption in the ability of the nervous system to communicate and thus, interrupts many physical, mental, and psychological functions. Symptoms and manifestations include blindness, weakness of the muscles, numbness or loss of sensation, and loss of muscular coordination and movement. Doctors say MS may be caused by genetics or environmental factors as well as viral infections. The good news is that medical marijuana has been found to alleviate muscle spasms, tremors, and muscle stiffness.

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Access to Medical Marijuana

Those suffering from these diseases and many other conditions have increasing hope of better access to alternative treatments such as medical marijuana or cannabis. In the United States, 29 states as well as the District of Columbia have already passed some form of legislation or another that allows the purchase, possession, and use of marijuana for medical reasons. Although it is still illegal at the federal level, the future seems promising for a reversal on this stand by the government as more and more people testify to the positive effects of medical marijuana on many dreaded diseases.

The US is actually just the latest in a string of many other progressive countries around the world who have allowed medical marijuana. These countries are Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Australia is also currently evaluating and developing laws along the lines of allowing medical marijuana or cannabis. While some people may fear that legalizing what is still widely considered a recreational drug as marijuana may lead to more substance abuse, the opposite is actually true in many of these countries who have allowed it. Crime rates have even reportedly gone down, and there is no significant adverse effect of legalizing marijuana on the overall safety and security of societies.

Proponents of medical marijuana are also pushing for government coverage of alternative treatments in healthcare insurance programs such as Medicard or Medicaid. Currently, medical marijuana is not recognized by these insurance programs and other private health maintenance organizations. The cost of treatment is shouldered solely by the patients. While many say that marijuana treatment is actually relatively even more affordable than mainstream pharmaceutical drugs and medicine, it can still be made more accessible to less fortunate sectors of society.

Where and How to Buy Medical Marijuana

Given the explosion in demand for medical marijuana and medical cannabis products, there are a lot of sellers and retailers cashing in on the trend. Buyers need to beware of unscrupulous manufacturers and sellers who may not be using genuine marijuana or cannabis in their products, or who may be peddling substandard goods. These include marijuana products that may have been produced using harmful chemicals, solvents, and other ingredients.

It would also be wise to go with medical marijuana products that are grown without pesticides, because these substances are often absorbed by the plant and passed on to the bloodstream of the user. This may lead to even more complications and health problems. Always trust reputable sellers and dispensaries who comply with regulations and the specific laws of the state that they are in. Making marijuana more acceptable as a medical treatment lies in the responsible and conscientious behavior of all those involved—users, growers, and sellers alike. The industry has to grow in concerted effort to keep medical marijuana well regulated and controlled, in order to maximize the benefits that it brings to patients in need.

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