Countless people across the world suffer from some type of diagnosed ailment. Many patients either cannot find a suitable treatment, or are unhappy with the treatment they are currently receiving. That’s where Medical Marijuana comes in. There is a long list of conditions for which cannabis can offer relief and a chance at a normal life.
All cannabis strains have different ratios of chemical compounds like THC and CBD, called cannabinoids, which make certain strains best suited to certain ailments. For instance, varieties higher in THC tend to serve as mood and energy elevators which can improve mood disorders and chronic fatigue. Types of cannabis higher in CBD have been useful in treating cancer (combatting infected cells) and epilepsy.
Cannabinoids help treat illnesses by attaching to existing cannabinoid-receptors present in the body. Unlike other pharmaceuticals, cannabis generally has fewer negative side effects, and is considered less habit-forming than drugs like valium and oxycodone.
Browse our list of conditions, below. If you do not see your condition, please view our list of symptoms.
Cannabis’ Claim to Fame: Cancer
One of the major talking points for Medical Marijuana supporters is the use of cannabis to aid cancer patients. While further studies are required to confirm all the possible benefits, enough research does exist to suggest both the primary cannabinoid compounds – tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, and cannibidiol or CBD – can have a positive effect on symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments.
CBD can relieve pain caused by treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, and has been linked to lowering inflammation. More significantly, though, studies involving CBD suggest it may prevent the growth of blood vessels, which can slow or even block metastasis: the spread of tumors.
THC and Cancer
THC seems to ease some of the side effects of cancer treatment as well. The cannabinoid can lessen nausea and
vomiting from chemo, and help relieve pain where stronger, pharmaceutical medications have failed. What is more, a 2009 study suggested THC may have the ability to induce the death of cancer cells, a process called autophagy.
Currently, one of most promising possibilities for cannabis in cancer treatment is its ability to combat multiple cancer processes and symptoms, while numerous pharmaceuticals would be needed to achieve the same result.
Today, two THC-related medications have been approved by the FDA. Both contain synthetic cannabinoid compounds. As with any medication, it is important to determine the correct dosage when using cannabis for treatment, as side effects of marijuana can include increases in heart rate and decreases in blood pressure.
For more information, please see Cannabis for Cancer Symptoms.
Cannabis for Autoimmune Disease
Spasms, tremors, pain and inflammation can all be controlled with cannabis.
Recent studies have found a link between marijuana and the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Sufferers of MS struggles with debilitating symptoms including pain, tremors, and spasticity. A pharmaceutical drug containing a synthetic THC compound has been used, with some success, to improve appetite and prevent weight loss in patients, while another similar drug improved spasticity.
A study conducted in 2013 involved treating MS patients with cannabis extract. Some of the participants had notable improvement in muscle stiffness, pain, and even sleep quality following the treatment. There is some tenuous evidence that cannabinoids may also protect the body’s nervous system. Other anecdotal and scientific evidence points to the plant’s ability to ease muscle spasms that cause frequent urges to urinate and other spasms and tremors that are common in patients with MS. Cannabis is also noted as a powerful anti-inflammatory, and may be able to reduce inflammation in the neural tissue.
As with any treatment, it is important to discuss dosage and best use with a professional. A physician who supports medical marijuana treatment can recommend strains that will help you treat your symptoms with minimal unwanted side effects and maximum benefit!
For more information, please read Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis.
CBD as a Neuroprotective Agent
Recent research has shown Medical Marijuana – specifically the cannabinoid CBD – may help treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, which is caused by the loss of neurons in the brain.
A 2014 study found CBD, or cannibidiol, can improve well-being and quality of life in some patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Other studies have found marijuana helps to improve motor systems and lessen patients’ disturbances while asleep. The sedative, antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anxiolytic (anxiety-dampening) properties of CBD could all be of use to patients suffering from this degenerative disease.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Though it may seem counter-intuitive that a drug commonly known to cause a “spacy” feeling and aberrant behaviour should be used to treat attention disorders, recent research suggests cannabis can actually do more to enhance focus and concentration than many prescribed pharmaceutical stimulants.
Cannabis Can Increase Dopamine
Cannabis could increase the amount of dopamine produced in the brain.
A lack of dopamine in the brain appears to be a causal factor of ADHD. As such, the medications generally prescribed stimulate the production of this vital compound. Though the research is modest – primarily pre-clinical trials – it is thought that certain strains of cannabis can do much the same thing, with fewer or milder side effects. In addition, the anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects of some strains of Medical Marijuana can also be helpful to sufferers of ADHD.
For more information, please read Cannabis for ADD/ADHD.
Cannabis for Inflammatory Conditions
Sufferers of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s Disease, and Colitis may find relief with Medicinal Marijuana, which can serve as an anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, and analgesic.
The human body is known to have cannabinoid receptors, and recent research suggests patients with IBS have more of these receptors in the tissue of the colon and digestive tract than people without the disorder. As a result, the anti-inflammatory effects of ingested cannabis may have more effect on these patients, serving to calm spasms and pain, and ease cramps. Additionally, use of Medical Marijuana may decrease pain caused by the condition over-all, and even lessen symptoms like diarrhea.
Compared to other pharmaceuticals prescribed for treating GI disorders, cannabis has side effects described as “mild to moderate.” Other, prescribed medications can result in high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and heart palpitations, to name just a few.
Cannabis Can Stop Seizures
The use of Medical Marijuana to treat epilepsy by decreasing the prevalence of seizures has been the source of much recent study. Though the results of this research are both positive and negative, there is little doubt the use of cannabis is helping some people suffering from this debilitating condition.
Cannabis has been seen to nearly eradicate seizures in people with specific forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy.
THC – the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol –seems to have a positive effect on some sufferers of epilepsy for which anticonvulsants did not work, though a number of these studies are decades old.
In Colorado, a strain of cannabis high in cannabidiol or CBD – a non-psychoactive cannabinoid – has been bred to treat a specific type of pediatric epilepsy: Dravet’s Syndrome. Children suffering from this condition are administered a small amount of CBD oil daily, and as a result their seizures have decreased dramatically, from as many as 1,200 seizures a month to only one or two. Some epileptics who use high-CBD cannabis also experience mood elevation, more alertness, and better sleep.
Vaporizing Marijuana for Headaches
Quick-onset methods of cannabis consumption can ease or even stop headaches and migraine.
Though headaches can be a side effect of marijuana use, there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests cannabis might also help block or alleviate migraines. In fact, some doctors in the UK have been using Medical Marijuana to treat migraines since the middle of the 19th century.
A lot of the medications used to treat migraine symptoms have unpleasant side effects. A cannabis-derived pharmaceutical pill is sometimes prescribed for migraines. Unfortunately, like many medications, the pill takes a while (as long as a few hours) to start working. Some patients find it exacerbates the nausea that often accompanies migraine headaches, and it is also quite costly.
For this reason, some sufferers of migraines have turned to smoking or inhaling medical strains of marijuana as soon as they feel the warning symptoms. The correct strain and dosage can not only offer some users immediate relief from pain and nausea, it has even been found to counteract the migraine if ingested early enough.
Despite these positive reports, some users find marijuana only makes their migraines worse, so it is important to take care if you plan to treat your migraine with cannabis.
For more information, please read Cannabis for Migraine Headaches.
Marijuana as a Bronchodilator
There has been much debate in recent years about whether medical marijuana helps or hinders asthma, particularly in those who use smoking as their ingestion method of choice. Studies exist both proclaiming the healing benefits of the drug, and warning against its use by asthmatics.
One of the primary arguments for the use of cannabis to treat asthma is the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties. As opposed to tobacco smoke, which is known to constrict breathing pathways, marijuana actually widens bronchial tubes. A recent study suggests that after smoking marijuana, the respiratory passages of asthmatic test subjects resemble the passages of those not afflicted with asthma.
For people with asthma, cannabis can prevent the restriction of airways that causes violent coughing.
Marijuana can also alleviate the chest pain brought on by an attack. Additionally, antibacterial properties may prevent attacks by fighting off the bacteria that could cause them, and anti-spasmodic properties can help control spasm, which may lessen bronchial tube constriction during attacks.
There is also disagreement over whether lung function is helped or hindered over time by smoking marijuana. However, there are other ways to ingest the potentially healing benefits of the plant. Using a vaporizer offers the same properties without the harmful smoke.
Future studies will explore whether marijuana is viable as a treatment for asthma symptoms or if, over time, users may actually see permanent improvement.
For more information, please read Cannabis for Asthma.
Chronic Fatigue and Pain
CFS, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) are conditions for which cause is widely unknown, and a regular subject of study. Currently, these conditions are thought to be a combination of genetic, environmental, infectious, and psychological factors.
Though there are no clinical trials supporting the suggestion that cannabis can help alleviate symptoms of CFS and ME, patients have reported better sleep, less joint and muscle pain, relief from depression, and a levelling of emotional imbalances after using cannabis as a treatment.
It is generally accepted that cannabis can regulate poor sleep patterns. Ingestion reduces REM sleep, and increases deep sleep, which some patients report leads to feeling more refreshed upon awakening. Low doses of certain cannabis strains are also considered by some professionals as a suitable treatment for depression.
Myalgic Encephalopathy is also linked to fibromyalgia, a condition causing chronic joint and muscle pain. Some patients have reported relief of fibromyalgia symptoms through the use of marijuana.
For more information about using marijuana to treat chronic pain, please read Cannabis for Pain.
Arthritis causes swelling and pain in the joints, and limited movement. For centuries, cannabis was an accepted treatment for pain, and in states where medical marijuana is legal, arthritis is included on the list of conditions for which the substance can be prescribed. The analgesic properties of cannabis make it an option for various rheumatoid disorders, both on its own and in conjunction with other painkillers, the effects of which it can enhance. Among other benefits, some users find marijuana lacks the gastrointestinal side effects caused by commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs.
Cannabis can ease pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis
The Endocannabinoid System and Arthritis
Research has found an excess of CB2-receptors (the ones that bind to cannabinoids) in the joint tissue of arthritic patients. This could explain why ingesting cannabis can have such a positive effect on symptoms of the disease. The metabolism of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can create chemicals that reduce inflammation and offer pain relief. CBD and CBC – other cannabinoids – are also believed to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Recently, a Canadian study was undertaken to explore whether cannabis is just blocking pain, or is actually reducing both pain and inflammation for what could prove to be permanent improvement. The study has the support of the Arthritis Society.
For more information about using marijuana to treat chronic pain, please read Cannabis for Pain.