The Top 5 (most agreed upon) Medical Benefits of Medical Marijuana

The Top 5 (most agreed upon) Medical Benefits of Medical Marijuana

In just about every recently published article and report about the benefits of Medical marijuana, written by credentialed medical journalists, researchers, and practitioners, the 5 benefits discussed in this article show up over and over again.

Before listing these 5 benefits, it is important to note the clear – legal, medical, and social –  distinction between Recreational marijuana and Medical marijuana. These distinctions, in simple terms, reflect the differences between the two types of cannabinoids naturally residing in the resin of marijuana plants: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the component responsible for creating the “high” associated with marijuana use. In order for THC to be approved and effective for strictly medical use, it must be synthetically produced, no longer in its pure form.

CBD, even though it has the same formula chemically as THC, doesn’t prompt the “psychoactive” i.e., mind-altering, effects, only the medically beneficial effects.

Once that’s understood, it’s pretty easy to understand why there are such legal, medical, social, and moral barriers and misunderstandings between Medical marijuana and Recreational marijuana.

These barriers are so distinct that many advocates of Medical marijuana are actually opposed to Recreational marijuana. In their view, using marijuana just to “get high” is as harmful and counterproductive to a person’s quality of life as any other illegal drug.

Furthermore, using marijuana solely to alter cognition impedes Medical marijuana advocates’ efforts to mainstream Medical marijuana as a viable, practical option for treating many medical conditions and diseases.  Among the most agreed upon – in all circles – are the following:

 


 

Insomnia

It is estimated that 50 -70 million people in the United States suffer from some degree of insomnia, sleeplessness, or sleep disorders making it one of the most common debilitating ailments affecting Americans. If left untreated, chronic insomnia has both immediate and long-term effects on a person’s health and wellness.

Everyone knows how they feel after a restless sleep – they’re mentally cloudy, physically lethargic, and irritable.  And this is just after one night of “bad sleep”.  When sleepless nights or disruptive sleeps persist, these effects accumulate and at the chronic level can actually increase the risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and even strokes.

People who routinely don’t sleep soundly through the night try all sorts of remedies in the evening before going to bed such as drinking a glass of wine, taking an over-the counter sleep aid, or actually getting a prescription from their doctor.  But these treatments only address the nightly symptoms.

A significant percentage of people suffering from insomnia or restless sleep, as well as many medical researchers and physicians, agree that Medial marijuana can be effective for:

  • improving the quality of sleep;
  • decreasing the length of time it takes to fall asleep;
  • enhancing mental clarity the next morning

 


 

Anxiety

Almost 20% of Americans live with some form of anxiety, or Social Anxiety Disorder.  These disorders range from excessively over-worrying about routine daily activities to irrational fear of everyday situations, like being in large crowds. Taking the form of nausea, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or outright panic, anxiety is a difficult condition to live with and it is even more difficult to discuss – even with a doctor.

This is why many people suffering from anxiety – either occasionally or chronically – live with it, admit they’re “worry-warts”, and accept that they’re prone to having panic attacks. Others more at risk of the harmful physical effects of anxiety have been forthright with their doctors and have put themselves on a prescription drug regimen.

Over the course of the last twenty years, these two options – taking prescription medication or dealing with it on their own  – have been joined by a third option  – Medical marijuana. Through Medical research, published studies, and “word of mouth” (or anecdotal reports) more findings are showing that CBD in high doses and THC in low doses has a helpful effect in treating the symptoms and outcomes of anxiety and can actually mitigate its severity.

It is important to note that the dosage of each type – CBD and THC – is critical regarding their beneficial treatment of anxiety. Granted, THC is the cannabinoid that causes the euphoric “high” associated with marijuana, but, if THC is taken in a low dose at bedtime, the intoxicating effect wears off during sleep yet the anti-anxiety benefit continues throughout the next day. CBD, on the other hand, requires a much higher dosage to prompt the same effect. But, both have been shown to be effective treatments – and supplemental treatments – for anxiety.

This is not to say that the use of cannabis is a cure for anxiety, but, in acute, chronic cases, Medical marijuana has been shown to significantly improve a medically diagnosed anxiety patient’s quality of life when it’s used in conjunction with therapy and pharmaceutical medication.

 


 

Pain  

Did you know that chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined? It is so prevalent in the U.S. that it is the number one cause of long-term disability.

Even though the FDA has not approved the use of Medical marijuana for treating pain, many states have legalized its use for this purpose. As a result, many Americans in those states are using CBD in its various forms for relieving their pain.   While, not strong enough for the severe degree of pain that occurs after surgery or from a broken bone, Medical marijuana is alleviating and minimizing millions of Americans’ pain.

Pain is a pretty general concept; it covers a lot of ground. Technically, there are two types of pain. Neuropathic pain which is related to nervous system damage and Nociceptive pain which is triggered by some type of physical trauma such as dental work, twisting an ankle, or a childhood sports injury.

In very simple terms, there is chronic pain and what could be referred to as “aggravating” pain – the pain that shows up in the lower back, neck, knees, and joints and makes us groan when we move in certain ways, especially as we age. Living with this pain – at the very least – involves  some sort of pain treatment regimen even if it’s aspirin or NSAIDs like Aleve or Advil.

While this list is not meant to be all-inclusive, nor has it been universally adopted, it shows the types of pain – and disease-related pain – that various worldwide researchers, physicians, and Medical marijuana patients have credited Medical marijuana with helping to minimize and alleviate:

  • Arthritis
  • Migraines and non-migraine headaches
  • Inflammation
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson disease (for pain and tremors)
  • Chemotherapy (cancer patients)
  • Endometriosis
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • HIV
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease

 


 

Epilepsy & Multiple sclerosis 

 

Epilepsy

Medical marijuana has only been approved as an effective and safe treatment by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for two conditions; they are severe and rare forms of epilepsy that prompt seizures that no other medicinal drug can control.  In effect, a drug named Epidiolex, which contains a pure form of CBD, was approved by the FDA in June of 2018 and is credited with helping to control the spontaneous seizures associated with these two forms of epilepsy.

 

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that occurs when the body’s immune system responds abnormally and negatively impacts the central nervous system. This causes inflammation that damages the nerve fibers and the substance around nerve fibers. The outcome and symptoms of this damage is reflected in various ways, differing in each patient.

This causes painful spasms, muscle spasticity, central pain, restless sleep, and bladder dysfunction. All of which have been shown to be reduced and alleviated in MS patients who are using Medical marijuana as part of their treatment.

Few other options are available for MS patients; the drugs that are available to them are highly sedative. MS patients using Medical marijuana claim that unlike the pharmaceutical drugs they’ve tried, Medical marijuana allows them to engage in their daily activities without feeling detached or out of sorts.

 


 

Non-addictive and non-intoxicating   

Of the 5 most agreed upon benefits of Medical marijuana, without question, its non-addictive, non-intoxicating properties are the most universally accepted.  It is nearly impossible to overdose on marijuana and it is reported to be far less addictive than other legal, prescription pain-killers. This explains how and why Medical marijuana has mainstreamed much more rapidly and seamlessly than other “alternative” medicine over the past 25-30 years.  And all factors indicate the pace will only accelerate.

 

Medical marijuana is non-intoxicating   

As opiate addictions, overdoses, and deaths increase in the U.S. an increasing number of current and former opiate users are turning to Medical marijuana as a substitute for, or supplement to, opioids.

In a survey of 2,987 Medical marijuana users, 34 percent of them admitted they had used opiates in the previous 6 months. The majority of them also stated that marijuana provided the same pain reliving benefit but without the unwanted side effects.  81 percent of those 34 percent also agreed that marijuana by itself was more effective than when it was used with opioids and 97 percent of them agreed that their marijuana use would decrease their reliance on opioids.

Source: Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report; Amanda Reiman; Mark Welty; Perry Solomon; June 1, 2017

 

 

Is Medical marijuana really non-addictive?

While there is still much research to be conducted on this issue, overall, marijuana in general, and Medical marijuana in particular, never lands on lists of the most addictive substances in the world; the top 5 of which are: Heroin, Cocaine, Nicotine, Barbiturates, Alcohol.

In its worst light, daily use of marijuana can lead to “problem use disorder” which in severe cases, can fall under addiction.  But more studies need to be conducted to calculate and qualify marijuana’s physiological addictive ingredients (if any).  Overall, as of this writing, marijuana addiction is not at issue.

 


 

But remember . . .

 

This information, while thoroughly researched and documented, is presented as an introduction and general overview of Medical marijuana; not as a carte blanch “prescription”.  Furthermore, this information does not suggest that Medical marijuana should be used casually or irresponsibly. On the contrary, Medical marijuana use should be conducted with the same caution and responsibility as alcohol, or any other controlled substance.

Those who are currently using Medical marijuana, and especially those who are exploring using Medical marijuana for their insomnia, anxiety, pain, or any other medically diagnosed conditions, are urged to discuss the benefits as well as the potential risks with their doctor and a Medical marijuana professional representing a reputable Medical marijuana Provisioning Center.

Allied Wellness Center is dedicated to assisting patients in making responsible Medical marijuana decisions regarding treatments and use. Making patients’ needs  priority one, Allied Wellness Center’s professionals are personally available to discuss your questions, concerns, circumstances, and even your curiosities, to enable you to make educated decisions regarding all aspects of Medical marijuana as a well-suited treatment for your – or your loved one’s – ailment, condition, symptoms, or disease.

Rebecca J. Ensign
alliedwellnesscenters@gmail.com

Community Relations Coordinator