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Medical Uses of Marijuana
Medical marijuana has been a hot topic of discussion in recent years: let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about this alternative treatment
Mother Nature has many effective treatments in her medicine cabinet, but few herbal remedies have generated as much buzz in the media as medical marijuana;
Whilst apothecaries, physicians and medicine men across the ancient world regularly prescribed marijuana to treat their patients’ ailments, the modern medical community is still divided over the medicinal uses of cannabis;
Proponents of cannabis in modern medicine argue that this naturally-occurring substance (or elements derived from it, such as THC) should be openly accepted as a safer alternative to some pharmaceutical drugs.
Indeed, today many professionals practicing in territories where cannabis remains a controlled substance are calling for the legalisation of this herb and its derivatives for medical applications.
Those who oppose the use of medical marijuana often raise the spectre of some potentially harmful side-effects that have been linked to cannabis use.
With both of these viewpoints in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this controversial crop:
What conditions is medical marijuana used to treat?
The herb cannabis has many wide-ranging effects which have been documented in antiquity, as well as extensively studied by the modern medical community: among other things, medical marijuana can be used to treat:
· Chronic Pain: Various studies have shown that cannabis can make for a potent treatment which can help patients suffering from chronic pain to effectively manage their symptoms.
· Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Trials into MS treatment using cannabinoids have focussed upon the relaxing, anti-spasmodic properties locked within marijuana, as well as its analgesic effects.
· Glaucoma: Cannabis has been used in the treatment of patients with glaucoma, with some studies showing that even a small percentage of THC can reduce intra-ocular pressure by a significant amount (in some cases, by as much as ¼).
· Alzheimer’s disease: Modern studies have shown that cannabinoids may be helpful in slowing down, or even preventing the onset of many symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, with some of the properties inherent in THC helping the brain in a number of effective ways – in some cases, outperforming mainstream drug treatments.
· Cancer: Modern research in the fight against cancer has shown that cannabis can be a useful tool in combatting breast and brain cancers, in some cases helping to prevent metastasis or even bringing about the death of cancer cells by making them essentially ‘cannibalise’ each other.
· HIV: The pain-relieving and appetite-stimulating properties of cannabis have been shown to help HIV and AIDS patients to manage their symptoms, especially when the herb is combined with other treatments.
What are the beneficial properties of using marijuana as a treatment?
Aside from the wide range of conditions which cannabis has been shown to be effective in treating, the herb also provides a number of interesting health benefits:
· Cannabis possesses effective analgesic properties, which can make it a potentially safer alternative to some opiate-based painkillers.
· The relaxing effects of the herb can help to improve a person’s sleep.
· It has been shown to slow down some of the effects of aging on the brain.
· As an effective expectorant, cannabis can useful for treating certain respiratory conditions.
· It can stimulate the appetite and reduce nausea.
Are there side effects of using marijuana to treat medical conditions?
When compared with commercially available pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis has been shown to be a relatively safe treatment: there are no published cases of any human fatalities as a result of cannabis poisoning, which, sadly, cannot be said about many legal drugs on the market;
Despite the positive effects of cannabis in treating medical conditions, the herb can lead to some potentially harmful side effects:
· It can lead to increased heart rate, which can pose a risk to older patients, or those with heart conditions.
· Much like alcohol, cannabis can impair a person’s ability to drive, meaning that users of medical marijuana shouldn’t get behind the wheel when under the influence of the herb.
· A person’s mood can be affected: cannabis can produce anything from a pleasant calming sensation, to tense anxiety.
· Respiratory conditions can be exasperated, especially when medical marijuana is consumed by smoking: such a delivery method can also pose similar risks to inhaling tobacco-smoke, including an increased risk of developing certain kinds of cancer.
· Whilst studies show that it not as addictive as tobacco or alcohol, long-term use of marijuana can lead to addiction.
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