While the debate over legalizing cannabis across the U.S. rages on, strip away all the hyper-emotionalism and fear-inducing talk about the substance and you’ll learn just how medically beneficial cannabis can be for people suffering from potentially debilitating and crippling illnesses that need to find relief from some of the negative symptoms and painful conditions associated with their disease.
Cannabis works. And it often works better than many of the prescribed medications traditional pharmaceutical companies offer. Before cannabis became a misunderstood drug of pleasure, it was used as a medicine for over 3,000 years in cultures in Asia.
Cannabis was brought from India to the west by a surgeon named W.B. O’Shaughnessy during the first half of the 1800’s. After witnessing its effectiveness in treating a substantial number of illnesses, he noted how it had properties that had antispasmodic, sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory applications. Now, when medicinal cannabis undergoes clinical studies to determine its effectiveness, the medical benefits shine through.
Here’s a list of 10 Supporting Facts why Medicinal Cannabis is Good Medicine:
1. Medical Cannabis can help in the treatment and prevention of Glaucoma. Cannabis can help prevent optic nerve damage which can lead to vision loss. According to the National Eye Institute, cannabis lowers intraocular pressure (IOP), which is a benefit of its use in treatment. In addition, cannabis oil is able to be dropped into the eye directly, immediately going to the optic nerve to help prevent damage.
2. Medicinal Cannabis plays a part in the reversal of tobacco-related carcinogenic effects through improved lung health. From a study of tobacco smokers over a 20-year period that showed a loss of lung function over time, in just the reverse, people who used cannabis showed an increase in their lung capacity.
3. Medicinal Cannabis enables greater seizure control and helps diminish the effects of Dravet Syndrome. Cannabinoid compounds were shown to have anticonvulsant effects and with extracts from cannabis, a complete eradication of spontaneous seizures associated with epilepsy in a study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).
An example of a change of heart that took place in a very public way over the value and validity of cannabis as an effective medical treatment came about from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is the Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN. After meeting 5-year old Charlotte Figi, a very young patient suffering from Dravet’s Syndrome, which is a very serious form of epilepsy, and finding out that the number of seizures she experienced dropped from hundreds a week to basically one per month with measured and monitored amounts of medical cannabis, he was moved publicly to speak of the benefits of medical cannabis as an alternative treatment to prescribed medications.
4. Medicinal Cannabis shows promise as a breast cancer fighter by disrupting the spread of the Id-1 gene. A study of breast cancer cells that contained the Id-1 gene at a high level and were treated with cannabidiol showed that the cannabidiol lessened the aggressive spread of cancer cells and that even compounds in cannabis were found to kill cancer cells. The film documentary “WEED” by Dr. Sanjay Gupta vividly illustrates how medical cannabis can and has been used to help eliminate pain and to help manage severe medical conditions that might otherwise be treated with addictive opioid medications.
5. Medicinal Cannabis helps treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and helps in decreasing anxiety. In several states, medical cannabis has been given approval to help treat patients with PTSD. It’s been shown to help manage and control the responsive actions that cause the body and the brain to react with fear and anxiety. This is because of naturally occurring cannabinoids that are comparable to THC. Although cannabis is categorized as a Schedule 1 drug meaning that it has no medical uses, the contradiction is that it obviously does have medical applications, which could lead to greater pressure to legalize the drug.
6. Medicinal Cannabis slows, eases, and soothes symptoms associated with some of the medical world’s most incapacitating diseases
- In cases of Alzheimer’s, THC has been shown to have agents that help block the enzyme responsible for the formation of amyloid plaque, which destroys brain cells and creates the catastrophic disease known as Alzheimer’s. THC helps slow down the formation of the plaque that eats up brain cells.
- Multiple Sclerosis patients coping with muscle contractions as a result of their disease experienced a diminishing of associated pain upon consuming medicinal cannabis. The THC in cannabis attaches to nerve and muscle receptors to ease pain.
- The tremors and pain associated with Parkinson’s disease was able to be reduced with medicinal cannabis treatment. And there have been additional studies showing that medicinal cannabis also contributed to the elimination of painful muscle spasms almost instantaneously.
7. Medicinal Cannabis offers gut relief to inflammatory bowel diseases. THC and cannabidiol were discovered to play critical roles in treating intestinal and digestive system functions, plus the immune system responses of people suffering with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis from a 2010 study conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham. Also, in a study completed in Israel, half of the patients studied who had Crohn’s disease and were administered medical cannabis for treatment reported that they had experienced a “complete remission” of their disease.
8. Medicinal Cannabis offers comfort to arthritis sufferers. There’s hope for people who suffer from the nagging pain of arthritis in the form of a mouth spray made with cannabidiol and THC from the cannabis plant, built on the natural capacity of cannabis that helps reduce inflammation and pain. Sativex is a drug produced by UK based GW Pharmaceuticals, and in tests that were conducted in Canada on patients, showed a reduction in the arthritic pain they were experiencing. Sativex is not yet available in the U.S., but is on the list for FDA approval as a cancer pain treatment medication.
9. Medicinal Cannabis provides pain and nausea relief plus boosts the appetite. Anyone who has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer knows how nasty the side effects can be, with vomiting, nausea, and appetite loss typical experiences. Medicinal Cannabis has been shown through studies to have positive effects on alleviating pain caused by neurological complications and helpful in calming feelings of nausea.
10. Medicinal Cannabis can help people with weight control issues. For those who constantly battle the war on weight, medicinal cannabis can be a helpful assistant to help manage weight and lower fasting insulin levels, according to a study that The American Journal of Medicine published in July, 2013.
As many states in the U.S. have yet to legalize cannabis for any kind of use, we can build on the hope that comes from the 30 states that have legalized medicinal cannabis, and the 9 that have legalized both medicinal and recreational cannabis.
Educating as many people as possible is a big component of changing the course of action and restrictive policies in the U.S. over cannabis and its use for medicinal purposes. With the growing list of things cannabis can help with, and that’s only the beginning, it’s clear that cannabis is really more of a medicine that can help many people who need it to help improve their quality of life.