Cannabis has been used to alleviate symptoms caused by many different medical conditions, in many different cultures throughout the world, for centuries. It is listed as a treatment option for more than 100 different ailments in an ancient Chinese text, which dates back to 2700 B.C., that is considered to be the world’s oldest pharmacopoeia.
Until the early 1900’s, cannabis tinctures were also commonly prescribed by physicians and available for over-the-counter purchase in pharmacies throughout the United States. Then the war on marijuana was waged in the 1930’s by the leader of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Henry Anslinger, signalling the beginning the era of prohibition.
In 2015, prohibition is fading as more than half of the United States have realized the healing benefits that cannabis can provide by legally approving it’s use for medicinal purposes.
Knowledge of how marijuana can be used to treat symptoms like seizures, pain, nausea and vomiting caused by conditions like epilepsy, glaucoma and cancer has spread like wildfire through media outlets over the last decade. By now, many people have also heard how cannabis can shrink the size of brain tumors and halt the spread of cancer while also providing relief from symptoms caused by cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
Listed below are five conditions, from which marijuana can provide symptom relief, that are not as widely known.
Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that most commonly strikes people aged 65 and older, is a bit of a medical mystery. Although there is no reason known to cause the onset, nor to cure it, a study from a team in South Florida, recently found that low levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, may “slow or even halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study also found that the introduction of THC increased the function of specialized subunits within cells known as mitochondria. Mitochondria play important roles in the life-cycle, growth, and death of cells. This demonstrates the potential that THC may have to reduce or possibly prevent the degeneration and death of the brain cells in the first place.
2. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome is a group of symptoms associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. The wide range of symptoms include severe pain from uterine cramps, anxiety, depression, and uncontrollable irritability that can get in the way of daily activities. Cannabis can provide a different, natural alternative-treatment option for the common symptoms of PMS. Some women report using cannabis in place of pain killers to treat PMS. It would come down to personal preference for the user because both options come with certain side-effects, but cannabis can be placed in the same realm of viable treatment options for women suffering from PMS.
In 2002, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Washington, Dr. Ethan Russo, published a research compilation called Cannabis Treatments in Obstetrics and Gynecology: A Historical Review. This research examined many works, dating back centuries, with documented success in using cannabis to treat symptoms of PMS. His findings dated back to ancient traditions of people in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China and more.
Arthritis Today looked into the efficacy of cannabis in the treatment of arthritis, and found that cannabis is a viable treatment option for arthritis sufferers. Though some doctors remain skeptical, the bottom line for those suffering from arthritis is finding the medicine that works.
Dr. Fitzcharles, associate professor of medicine in the department of rheumatology and pain management unit at McGill University in Montreal acknowledged, “There’s no question that cannabinoids have the potential to have an impact on the disease.” The risk vs. reward may be still in limbo for some, but those who benefit from the plant would likely tell you there is no argument to be had.
4. Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is the result of nerve damage to the peripheral nervous system, which includes all nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. It is usually described by patients as chronic. The damaged nerves send incorrect signals to the body that there is pain. The damage to nerve fibers is most often the result of a tissue injury caused by trauma or infection. Patients describe this kind of pain as “shooting and burning” or “tingling and numbness.”
A recent study revealed that vaporizing small amounts of cannabis can provide significant pain relief for patients who do not respond to pharmaceutical treatments. The study conclusion also stated that “one might not anticipate a significant impact on daily functioning.”
Acne develops when excess oil builds-up, causing blockages which result in inflammation on the surface of the skin. A study published in 2014 examined how cannabidiol (CBD), the same cannabinoid known to significantly reduce seizures in epilepsy patients, affects the glands under the skin that produce the oil. The study found that CBD activated receptors to inhibit the secretion of the oil, thereby reducing the acne production. This study also found that the CBD caused “complex anti-inflammatory actions,” which would reduce the red, irritated appearance of acne.
The study concludes that cannabidiol (CBD) can help to reduce the appearance of acne, and looks promising as a viable treatment option. The summary stated, “due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and antiinflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris.”
More modern day research needs to be completed in all avenues of medical marijuana to be completely certain of how, when and why cannabis can be used to provide relief from different symptoms. Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, which deems it as having “no accepted medical uses in the United States.” Marijuana being classified as a Schedule I, the worst of the five categories, has prevented scientists from being granted legal access to the plant, even for medical research.
In the future, if cannabis is re-classified as a Schedule II substance or most appropriately unscheduled all-together, scientists will be able to study the plant and conduct clinical trials to learn more about the potential healing powers harnessed within it.