Over 20 states have legalized the use of marijuana or cannabis for medicinal purposes. Researchers have found that cannabis contains at least two chemicals that can have medical applications. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a pain reliever, and cannabidiol (CBD) that can be used to treat some neurological disorders without getting the patient high.
While scientists are still studying cannabis, they have found it has a number of potential medical applications including the following:
1) Seizures and epilepsy
Back in 2013, a girl named Charlotte Figi from Colorado made the news when it was announced that her family was using medical marijuana to treat her epilepsy. Using cannabis dramatically reduced the number of seizures she suffered from 300 a week to one a week.
Later studies demonstrated that an extract made almost wholly of CBD was just as effective in treating seizures as conventional anti-convulsants.
2) Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers have found that the THC in cannabis can trigger the removal of beta-amyloid proteins from neurons. The proteins normally clump together and from the plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s. THC reduces beta-amyloid levels and thus slows the disease’s progression.
3) Multiple sclerosis
Several different groups of researchers have found that extracts made from cannabis can be used to treat some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Cannabis is particularly effective at reducing the muscle spasms and pain caused by MS. While smoking marijuana can help relieve such symptoms, it also has deleterious effects on the patient’s cognitive abilities.
4) Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that attacks the liver, and the drugs used to treat it cause nasty side effects like nausea, fatigue, and aching muscles. While smoking marijuana doesn’t treat the virus itself, it does reduce the severity of the medicine’s side effects and thus makes the treatment more bearable.
Like Hepatitis C patients, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have to suffer through a grueling treatment that lasts weeks and causes side effects like vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite. If left untreated, these side effects can weaken the patient. Cannabis relieves the pain and GI tract problems, and it also stimulates the appetite.
6) Post-traumatic stress disorder
Some states have already approved the use of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD. In New Mexico, for example, PTSD is the most common reason for using medical marijuana. The drug works by controlling anxiety and fear.
7) Inflammatory bowel diseases
Both the THC and CBD in marijuana can reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis. THC and CBD can both reduce nausea and inflammation, and THC also increases appetite and reduces pain.
8) Parkinson’s Disease
Researchers in Israel have found that cannabis can help patients with Parkinson’s. Cannabis can relieve the tremors and pain caused by the disease. It also helps patients regain some of their fine motor skills.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, and cannabis can calm the immune system and thus reduce the severity of the patient’s symptoms. It also reduces nausea and pain.