Category: Cannabis: Renegade Healer Written by Nancy R. Fernandez
Cannabis has managed to grab the headlines almost every other day. Its usage in various industries including medicine has helped in slowly eliminating the stigma around the plant. Medical marijuana has been a particular area of interest for many considering the true possibilities of harnessing a substance like cannabis can bring about big changes in healthcare. But, What makes medical marijuana so special?
The story of medical marijuana
Medical marijuana refers to the usage of Marijuana plant or cannabis or the chemicals extracted from them for treating conditions and diseases. While the substance remains the same as the ones used for recreational purposes, the objective here is to use the same as a medicine for treating various ailments. Marijuana constitutes over 100 different types of chemical compounds that are primarily responsible for the various benefits and effects associated with the plant. CBD or Cannabinoids and THC are the two main components derived from the plants which have been under focus for usage as a medicine. Cannabinoids present in the plant have properties similar to that of chemicals in the human body which is why they are effective in treating various conditions. By binding at active sites in our body, these endocannabinoids help promote neuroplasticity, modulate the functioning of our immune system, and also improve cognitive and emotional modulation.
Currently, various conditions such as pain, PTSD, Multiple sclerosis, Glaucoma, Crohn's disease, Arthritis, Alzheimer's, muscle spasms etc, are using medical marijuana as a treatment option. Different strains of marijuana have different kinds of effects associated with it which might be appropriate for treating particular health conditions. Medical marijuana is available in the form of edibles, oils, extracts, topical creams , chocolate seeds etc, in legalized states where it can be acquired through dispensaries.
How it has changed the world of medicine
The use of Marijuana in medical science helped change the age-old perspective about Marijuana as a drug. Today people from across the world share more interest in understanding the true values of this amazing plant and its boundless benefits in the field of healthcare. Legalization has also been an encouraging step towards creating awareness about the pote
ntial use of Marijuana as a drug for treating ailments. Today the process of buying weed is simple and easy. There are dispensaries where you can purchase them in legalized states or now you can even order weed online. Such is the progress we have witnessed when we discuss marijuana and health science.
About 1.2 million people have currently shifted to this traditional medicine form which has a significant impact on the pharmaceuticals industry. And increasing studies that only bind to support the claims of efficiency and safety of use of Cannabis for treatment the trend might continue to rise faster than before. With legalization spreading its wings to more states, let us try and understand what impact Marijuana has had on the field of health care so far.
- It is making its way into mental health medications: It has taken a significant amount of years to bring to notice the importance and seriousness of mental health to the world. Today the treatments available for mental health problems begin with counselling and psychotherapy and could go on to short or long-term medications. But the problem with these medications is that most of the prescribed come with a possibility of addiction and even other adverse sides effects that could range up to suicidal ideation. On the financial front also these medications put a large pressure on the patient’s pockets.
The rise of medical marijuana in the legalized states has affected the number of prescriptions in these areas considerably. Many doctors in these areas prefer smaller doses of medications in comparison to other areas. Although Marijuana cannot serve as a solution for all types of mental health problems, a few such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder have shown positive results after usage. PTSD or Post-traumatic stress disorder is yet another area where Marijuana shows the possibility of being an effective treatment method. This syndrome, often associated with various symptoms such as insomnia, rage, isolation along with depression, anxiety and flashback of events requires a variety of medications. Many veterans and incest victims who suffered through the trauma share their experience of using marijuana as a treatment. They share that using cannabis as a part of the healing process helps to forget the aversive memories that help them cope with their ailment.
Yet the reason behind the slow progress of the use of marijuana for mental health is because of the unpredictability of the outcome. THC is a psychoactive substance which is present in Cannabis that gives the feeling of high. The amount of high and the way a patient can process the same varies from person to person and hence professionals shy away from suggesting Cannabis as a treatment. However, CBD or Cannabinoids which have non-psychoactive effects is seeing a rise which could be a possible solution to the same. More research in the area along with user feedback can help analyze and spread the use of Cannabis as a treatment for mental health better.
- It has reduced the count of Opioid Overdose deaths: Today medication for chronic pain such as in the case of arthritis and multiple sclerosis involves the use of opioid-based medications. These painkillers, unfortunately, come with a possibility of abuse and addiction. Over 70,000 deaths have been reported due to opioid overdose so far. In fact, the Opioid epidemic is among the biggest health problems in countries such as the USA. Medical Marijuana can become a safe and efficient substitute for Opioid based drugs. Various studies that are under progress show encouraging results towards the use of medical marijuana for acting as a painkiller even in severe cases. It is efficient towards both chronic as well as neuropathic pain and is currently being prescribed in few states for treating the same.
Increasing access and availability due to legalization have helped promote the use of cannabis for such cases. A report suggests that legalized states have seen about 25 percent reduction in opioid-related deaths. Also, the use of cannabis can help with withdrawal symptoms that occur while reducing usage of opioid-based drugs.
Although the psychoactive characteristic of marijuana has been among the major reason behind terming it as a drug, the addictive potential when compared to substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, tobacco or various other drugs is far less. This is the reason behind why the use of marijuana can help in recovery from various drug addictions. Studies to support the use of Marijuana in addiction therapy are happening across the world.
- It can help with treatment of various ailments and chronic pain: Even with such huge breakthroughs in the field of medical science, most patients with chronic conditions still struggle with the problem of having one or very few treatment options. And with time the effectiveness of such treatments may go low which means most patients suffer from almost no options left but to continue these less effective treatment methods.
The use of medical marijuana opens possibilities for such conditions. Chronic conditions such as ulcerative colitis, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, open opportunity for use of medical marijuana. And unlike the current methods of treatment, the possible side effects from usage would be fewer. Also, problems such as nausea and loss of appetite after chemotherapy could use cannabis as a treatment. This could help in the better recovery period for patients who can also go through the treatments without having to worry much about the possible side effects.
Another chronic condition where cannabis comes handy is for treatment of Alzheimer's.
A study by Oxford aimed to understand the influence of marijuana consumption on Alzheimer's disease. The observation suggests that the substance helped encourage the production of new brain cells which helped stop loss of brain activity. Use of cannabis can help eliminate the possibility of the early onset of the disease. Also, Epileptic seizures caused due to activity in the brain reduced both in frequency and intensity in subjects who used medical marijuana in yet another study.
Chronic pain disorders that require addictive medicine today are yet another sphere for use of medical marijuana. Apart from causing pain relief it can also relax the body and induce sleep which is also important for faster and efficient healing process.
The characteristic of marijuana which can cure multiple conditions enables it to be a drug suitable for a wider range of audience compared to the current prescription and over the counter drugs. Individuals with multiple diagnostics such as GERD may find it difficult to go for heavy medications for any other problems as this might create complications in the stomach. But a drug such as marijuana could be a possible way of treating these conditions without worsening any current health conditions. This eliminates the need for a cocktail of drugs and places one, yet extremely effective natural treatment for these conditions.
- It could help improve quality of life: Modern medicine, although provides great treatments for various conditions has one major drawback called side effects. These side effects that tag along is the reason behind the fear among people across the world who are rapidly shifting towards traditional medications. These side effects could potentially give rise to problems of their own that might last life long. Treatments for conditions such as cancer which involves chemotherapy and radiation also comes with such side effects.
The harsh radiation treatments come with various problems such as loss of appetite, compromised immune system functioning, hair loss etc. Claiming medical marijuana as a cure or a way of preventing cancer may not be right. Yet, Medical marijuana could be an effective way to help improve the quality of life of patients who have undergone these necessary treatments. Patients diagnosed with various health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, AIDs etc, have shared their experience of using medicinal marijuana.
Certain strains of marijuana have the ability to enhance the appetite which was particularly useful for patients suffering from loss of appetite after treatments. Similarly, sleep-inducing strains, strains that help relax the mind and body etc, have been particularly useful for these patients whose quality of life has improved.
Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease are constantly dependent on others for performing everyday activities such as eating or dressing. Muscles spasms associated with these conditions make it difficult for them to perform these activities. But the use of medical marijuana can help control these spasms.
Seizures associated with Dravet syndrome miraculously responded to the only treatment which was the usage of medical marijuana. While other drugs were effective only for small durations, a low THC and high CBD strain whose oil when used helped with the treatment and stopped these seizures.
- It has a huge effect on health care costs: Normalization of medical marijuana in various states has already begun to show evident results. There has been a drop in prescriptions for pain medication, seizures, anxiety, depression, nausea etc in significant numbers across these states. Medical marijuana making headlines so often has triggered the curiosity of people across the world the explore the possible health benefits of the plant and get par the barrier of considering it as a drug. This has also encouraged doctors who once shied-away from prescribing a plant classified as a Schedule 1 drug.
These steps have initiated a form of affordable treatment for various conditions. It also increases the accessibility and availability of a specialized treatment for even prolonged health conditions. The rise of Medical marijuana could help bring down health care costs by huge numbers in the years to come. And with more acceptance medical marijuana can replace multiple shelves of medications with multiple strains of natural and efficient medication.
Is it war?
Of course, replacing existing drugs would mean a significant loss from huge pharma companies. These corporations for many years have indirectly promoted the idea of considering marijuana as a drug so as to keep their production numbers balanced. From promoting groups that stand against marijuana legalization to discouraging new states from legalizing, pharmaceutical companies across the globe play a significant role in formally making medical marijuana available. Many corporations have also actively pursued research for creating a competitive substitute or synthetic version of cannabis. Marinol is one such product that has entered the market but failed to impress users.
Medical marijuana is yet to face and get through these wars successfully before it can become more approachable for people. But with steps such as legalization, recreational marijuana shops etc, the timeline could be closer than we think. People who have exhausted possible treatment options for various ailments are now turning to medical marijuana. And there are various stories spread across the web that does prove that this option hasn’t failed them.
The story of Charlotte with Dravet Syndrome is one such example. Such instances only prove that medical marijuana is in the process of revolutionizing the healthcare and pharma industry in ways we could never imagine before. Medical marijuana if utilized much as an exit drug rather than a gateway drug can help realize its true potential against existing addictive drugs. And in this process, we will all catch up to an ancient treatment that will be in favor of everyone’s interests and health.
Nancy is a blogger who loves to write especially in the Cannabis vertical. She has written many informative blogs in other verticals too.
This article was submitted exclusively to CrystalWind.ca by Nancy R. Fernandez.
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