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An Introduction to Marijuana as a Medicine


Cannabis is still illegal as per federal law. It’s listed among the Schedule I Drugs. However, 33 states allow patients to use it for health benefits. Each state has its own regulations for medical users. For instance, MMJ qualifying condition list to get a medical marijuana card varies from state to state.

Medical marijuana provides lots of health benefits. Studies show that cannabis can help in managing pain, inflammation, sleep problems, etc., thus improving the quality of life.

However, before you start using cannabis for medical purposes, it’s important to understand various things. What’s inside the marijuana plant? How does it work? What are the major health benefits of cannabis? Read on to learn more.

What is Medical Marijuana?

The term medical marijuana refers to using the cannabis plant as a whole or its parts for treating medical conditions. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved cannabis as medicine.

The marijuana plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids. These are chemical compounds with amazing medicinal properties. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD can help in managing pain, nausea, vomiting, and many other symptoms. They are similar to compounds our body produces naturally, called endocannabinoids.

When you consume cannabinoids, they stimulate the body’s endocannabinoid system, thus improving health. In fact, they boost cell communication and correct endocannabinoid deficiencies.

When you consume cannabis, its cannabinoids bind to receptors in the brain—particularly CB1 and CB2 receptors. Different cannabinoids work differently. For instance, THC binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors. On the other hand, CBD doesn’t bind to either of the receptors—it increases the ability of cannabinoid receptors to attach to cannabinoids. Additionally, it counteracts the psychoactive effects associated with THC.

Major Health Benefits of Cannabis

It Reduces Pain

Pain is a common condition among Americans. It can lead to headaches, back pain, and sleep problems. Chemical compounds in marijuana can help in reducing pain. THC, a psychoactive compound works by activating the brain’s reward system, thus boosting wellness.

There’s a wide range of studies on medical marijuana for pain management available. A review published in 2015 reported that cannabinoids may help in alleviating neuropathy and some other types of chronic pain.

According to a study published in Neurotherapeutics, CBD can be useful in activating or inhibiting important compounds in the endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol stops the reabsorption of anandamide, a neurotransmitter linked to pain management.

It Manages Anxiety Levels

Anxiety is a common mental disorder, which can interfere with how you think and perform. Cannabis compounds can help provide anxiety relief by binding to certain receptors in the brain. Marijuana’s non-psychoactive compound CBD is effective in reducing anxiety. It’s also known for its amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

THC has a similar chemical structure as that of anandamide. So, THC can help in changing brain communication, thus easing anxiety symptoms.

Researchers at Washington State University analyzed marijuana’s effects on patients with stress, anxiety, and depression. The results were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, showing that inhaling marijuana can be effective in managing these conditions. However, marijuana works for the short-term, and over time, it may worsen the symptoms.

In addition to dosage, choosing the right strain is important when using marijuana for anxiety relief. Some of the best strains for anxiety disorders are Critical Mass, Royal Highness, AC/DC, Elektra, Blue OG, Cannatonic, and Kosher Kush.

It Manages Chemotherapy Side-Effects

Medical studies have found that cannabis can help in reducing cancer chemotherapy side-effects such as nausea and vomiting. Cancer patients also experience anxiety, and marijuana can help in managing this symptom. Additionally, marijuana compounds can help in slowing the growth of cancer cells.

In the United States, Dronabinol (Marinol®) and Nabilone (Cesamet®) have been approved for managing nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy.

Top strains for cancer are Harlequin, Northern Lights, Blackberry, Bubba Kush, Granddaddy Purple, and Blueberry Diesel.

It Boosts Sleep

Cannabis compounds provide relaxing and sedative effects, thus managing sleep problems such as insomnia. It’s important to note that different strains contain different levels of cannabinoids, and they deliver different effects. By choosing the right strains, i.e. low-THC, low-CBD, or equal CBD and THC, you can alleviate your symptoms completely.

According to a recent survey of 72 adults with anxiety and sleep problems, about 66 percent of the participants agreed that taking cannabidiol for one month helped them improve sleep.

A 2007 study reported that marijuana can reduce REM sleep. REM sleep occurs in the dreaming phase and it lasts for about 2 hours. Reduced REM sleep means you will spend more time in a deep sleep. Additionally, marijuana can help PTSD patients deal with nightmares.

It Manages Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder, which is common among older adults. It can interfere with a patient’s thinking patterns and memory. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 13.5 million Americans aged 65 and older will suffer from this condition by 2050.

Marijuana’s medicinal properties can help in managing Alzheimer’s disease. The herb can help in boosting mood, memory, sleep, etc.

Research says that tetrahydrocannabinol can help in slowing the growth of beta-amyloid. It’s a type of protein, which works for damaging plaques in the brain. Moreover, cannabis provides anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is one of the major contributing factors in Alzheimer’s disease. A study published in 2016 reported that activation of CB1 receptors helped provide anti-inflammatory effects.

Top strains for fighting Alzheimer’s disease are LSD, White Russian, The Ox, Acapulco Gold, and Green Crack.

Marijuana vs Prescription Medications

Marijuana use is safer than prescription medications. This is because the former doesn’t cause any unpleasant side-effects as the latter. For instance, anti-anxiety medications such as SNRIs, SSRIs, and beta-blockers can lead to blurry vision, headaches, weight gain, dizziness, etc. However, marijuana doesn’t cause these health issues. Medical researchers have found that cannabis works the same way as SSRIs i.e. boosting the serotonin levels in the brain.

Additionally, marijuana doesn’t cause dependence issues as opioid medications. A research paper published in 2016 shows that marijuana helped a 64 percent reduction in opioid use. Additionally, in states that have legalized medical marijuana have reported a significant reduction in the number of deaths due to opioid overdose in the past years.

Key Takeaways

There’s scientific evidence that cannabis can help in managing pain, anxiety, depression, and various other conditions effectively and naturally. That’s why more patients are replacing prescription medications with cannabis.

In the marijuana plant, there are over 100 different cannabinoids, which work by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Research says that cannabinoids bind to receptors, mainly CB1 and CB2, thus providing benefits such as pain relief, boosting sleep, mood, and memory.

When using cannabis for pain, anxiety, or other conditions, make sure you check dosage, strain, and consumption methods. This is because these are the important factors that influence marijuana’s effects on the body. If you are using cannabis for the first time, don’t consume too much. Go slow, analyze how your system is responding to cannabis compounds, and adjust the dosage slowly.

Talk to 420 doctors to get MMJ recs. With telemedicine, you can see a doctor online and receive your card hassle-free. Here’s the process-

  • Sign up an account
  • Talk to a licensed doctor using HIPAA-compliant platform
  • Receive your MMJ recs via email

In light of the COVID pandemic, we advise all our patients to see a doctor online instead of visiting the clinic. Help us flatten the curve by opting for an online 420 evaluation.