With a better understanding of what medical cannabinoids are, we can then answer the question - what is medical marijuana used for?
While the benefits of medical marijuana have been studied since the 1940s, the most groundbreaking discoveries about cannabis and its therapeutic effects have only emerged in the last decade or so as interest in the beneficial properties of medical cannabis has grown.
Recent studies suggest that cannabis, or certain compounds within it, have the potential to:
In addition, cannabis has been shown to mollify both pain and nausea, making it a potentially powerful therapeutic for numerous medical conditions, including patients having to undergo chemotherapy or traditional AIDS/HIV treatments.
More than 20,000 modern peer-reviewed scientific articles on the pharmacology of cannabis and its cannabinoids have been published by medical journals, further supporting the medicinal properties of marijuana.
Biotech firms in the U.S. and internationally are currently pursuing the development of cannabis-based medicines aimed at a number of conditions, including epilepsy, psoriasis and eczema, and multiple sclerosis, by isolating specific cannabinoids within the cannabis plant for focused relief.
Marijuana for medical purposes has a bright future, and new research on its benefits is being conducted every day.
Medical marijuana refers to using the whole cannabis plant, or the plant’s basic extracts, for the treatment of various ailments or conditions. If you’re not treating ailments or conditions, marijuana can’t be labeled medical marijuana.
People often confuse the terms cannabis and marijuana. Cannabis is a category for a plant species that includes both hemp and marijuana. For a lot of people, the best way to think about cannabis is with an analogy: hemp and marijuana are to cannabis as lemons and oranges are to citrus. Two related but different plants, from the same 'family'.
The characteristic that defines marijuana from hemp is the content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis that gets users 'high'. Hemp is almost entirely devoid of THC but often high in another cannabinoid – cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp has 0.3 percent THC or less while the threshold for marijuana starts at a THC concentration of 0.31 percent or higher. Both forms of cannabis, hemp and marijuana, have been shown to contain medically beneficial levels of differing cannabinoids, active compounds found in the cannabis plant.
Cannabis contains over 85 cannabinoids, some of which have been found to have therapeutically beneficial properties. The two major cannabinoids found in cannabis that academic and scientific studies demonstrate to possess the most therapeutic properties are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), though a number of other cannabinoids, like cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN), also exhibit health benefits.
These cannabinoids interact directly with the body’s endocannabinoid system – a signaling network found within every mammalian species on Earth. It features two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2 receptors, which THC and CBD “dock” with to provide their therapeutic effects. THC, the mind-altering ingredient in cannabis, has been shown to increase appetite, reduce muscle control problems, and reduce nausea, pain, and inflammation. CBD doesn’t cause a psychoactive effect like THC, but it has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as be effective in killing certain cancer cells, controlling epileptic seizures, and treating mental illness. CBD Oil is one of the most popular ways to experience the benefits of CBD. Want to learn more? Medical Marijuana, Inc. is dedicated to sharing CBD facts and clearing up myths.
To date, marijuana has not been recognized or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food or medicine, but the agency has approved some cannabis-based medications for distribution in the U.S. In addition, over half the states and territories in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medical use, as long as patients have registered to obtain their state’s medical cannabis 'card'.
With medicinal marijuana uses and benefits covered, let’s dive into how it’s consumed.
Smoking has historically been the most common method for consuming marijuana. Devices like rolling papers, hand pipes, water pipes and hookahs are used to ignite the dry herb, releasing its cannabinoids and other natural compounds. With smoking, the cannabinoids reach the bloodstream and elicit effects very quickly.
Cannabis material can also be infused into various foods to make medical marijuana edibles. Popular among those who prefer to avoid smoking, edibles are now available in an array of food products, including chocolate bars, chews, and cookies. Because edibles are metabolized, their effects take longer to kick in and can last several hours. In general, edibles provide more body relaxing effects.
Health-conscious marijuana consumers commonly elect to vaporize their cannabis products. Vaporizers use convection heating to heat up the dry herb or wax concentrates until they reach their boiling point, releasing the cannabis material’s cannabinoids and other natural compounds as a clean vapor. By inhaling the pure vapor, the compounds promptly reach the bloodstream and effects are felt as instantaneously as when smoking. However, because vaporizing doesn’t involve combustion, it eliminates the exposure to all of smoking’s toxins, carcinogens, and other harmful chemicals that can damage the throat and lungs.
Other “smokeless” marijuana products, concentrates, are growing in popularity as well. Concentrates include kief, hash, wax, and marijuana shatter.
While cannabis is thought to be safe, there are some preventative safety measures you can take to lower your side of adverse events.
Cannabis users may need to take some precautions because of the euphoric side effects that some marijuana products can elicit. Products containing THC can temporarily cause drowsiness, as well as impaired memory and reaction time. It’s therefore recommended that those using marijuana not operate machinery or drive a vehicle after consuming cannabis.
If you’re taking other medications, it’s a good idea to consider potential drug interactions. Marijuana may affect blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure, so people taking drugs for diabetes or hypotension should discuss cannabis use with their healthcare professional.Additionally, marijuana may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with other drugs, herbs or supplements that also increase the risk of bleeding.
Find out more about medical marijuana’s side effects.