Treatment for many specific ailments are linked to certain cannabis strains, but what about those suffering and in need of relief, but lacking a specific diagnosis? Cannabis aids diagnosed conditions by targeting symptoms; therefore, the same treatment can be applied to undiagnosed patients suffering the same symptoms.
Cannabis offers relief from a wide variety of symptoms that may or may not be linked to a larger ailment. Ingesting Medical Marijuana, specifically strains with high levels of the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol), has been found to reduce anxiety and stress, calm the stomach, and help acute and chronic pain suffers handle their regular or constant discomfort. The better known cannabinoid, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, is also useful in treatment, and the medical value of other cannabinoids (of which 85 are known) is currently under study.
There are naturally-existing chemicals in the body already doing their best to block pain. When these compounds can’t do enough unaided, cannabis can help by offering a boost. In many cases, cannabis does this without the deleterious – and sometimes dangerous – side effects of other drugs.
Browse our list of symptoms to learn which cannabis strains are best for treating your individual health concerns. See our selection of medical seeds to discover the relief each strain can offer.
Chronic and Acute Pain
Cannabis’ Claim to Fame
Medical marijuana can help treat chronic pain. Relief of pain is one of the most common benefits cited by users of medical marijuana. A Canadian study referenced in the Journal of Pain spent over a year following more than 100 chronic pain sufferers, who were smoking and inhaling marijuana daily in attempts to combat their pain from a variety of conditions (not including cancer). The majority of the subjects had reduced discomfort as a result of this medication.
The study suggested there is no “apparent increased risk” of serious side effects, and found no notable change in the cognitive skills or blood work of the test patients when compared to the control group. The patients did experience mild to moderate drawbacks such as dizziness or coughing – side effects generally associated with cannabis use.
Cannabis as a Supplementary Medicine
The addition of cannabinoids to the opiate medications usually prescribed to patients with extreme pain could have the same pain-control results, with fewer dangerous side effects. Opiate use can result in dependence, breathing problems, and of course, overdose. The medical marijuana that was used in the study above had a relatively low level of THC, 12.5%, suggesting a high level of THC – and therefore a stronger psychoactive effect – is not required for positive results.
Trouble Sleeping? Try Marijuana
Sleepiness is an oft-reported side effect of cannabis use, but for sufferers of insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders, tiredness could actually be a benefit.
Of the two main types of cannabis – indica and sativa – indica is known to have a sedative-like effect. Using indica-dominant marijuana strains before bed could be an alternative to stronger prescription sleep medications, many of which are known to be habit-forming.
Eat Cannabis to Prevent Midnight Wakefulness
In addition to the strains used, how you ingest marijuana can affect the results. Though smoking or vaporizing should have an immediate effect, it often lasts for a shorter period of time than eating marijuana in food. The latter method takes about an hour to begin working, but could offer some patients a full eight hours of good sleep. Low doses are best, as higher doses can result in a hangover-like feeling.
Cannabis increases the slow-wave (deep) sleep period of the sleep cycle – the period when the muscles fully relax. This provides the body more time to repair existing pain. However, cannabis also shortens REM sleep, and many users find they have few if any dreams. Though there is no evidence confirming whether or not REM sleep is essential, this does indicate that cannabis disturbs the sleep cycle.
As yet, there is no evidence suggesting cannabis use will fix sleep disorders, but it has proven to be a suitable sleep aid for some people.
The ability of cannabis to calm inflammation in humans has yet to be scientifically proven, though many patients have found it to ease inflammatory issues, and there is evidence if its anti-inflammatory properties.
Cannabis can help reduce and prevent inflammation.
The primary cannabinoid credited with lessening inflammation is beta-carophyllene. This non-psychoactive compound is found in the plant’s essential oils and binds with the body’s CB2 receptors. In animal trials, beta-carophyllene was found to reduce inflammation by 70 per cent.
Though high levels of beta-carophyllene – up to 35% – and additional pain relief benefits of other cannabinoids make cannabis a potential multi-symptom treatment, beta-carophyllene is actually present in many of the plant foods we ingest on a regular basis.
Cannabis may also reduce the amount of CRP (C-reactive proteins) in the body. This marker of inflammation and potential cardiovascular issues was found in smaller quantities in some smokers of marijuana.
Lack of Appetite
The Up Side of “The Munchies”
The “munchies” are a well-known side effect of marijuana use, but much like tiredness, this side effect can act as a benefit for some people. This marijuana property has been confirmed in studies, as well as first-hand reports.
Cannabis can increase appetite in people whose treatments have left them apathetic about food.
Cannabis causes an increase in appetite when the cannabinoid compounds in the plant interact with the CB1 receptors in the body. CB1 receptors are located in various parts of the anatomy: the hind brain, where food intake is regulated, the stomach and intestine, where hunger is identified and transmitted, and even in the limbic forebrain, where food is confirmed as palatable. Marijuana may also cause increases in appetite by enhancing the user’s sense of smell.
For patients finding it difficult to gain weight or keep food down, marijuana can both encourage the desire for food, and calm the nausea that may be interfering. This has been particularly useful for patients undergoing treatment for cancer, HIV, and AIDS.
Spasticity (Muscle Spasms)
Spasticity from Various Conditions
Muscle spasms, caused by multiple sclerosis, spinal injuries, cerebral palsy, strokes, and other disorders, can be both debilitating and extremely painful. Studies have been conducted to determine whether medical marijuana is a viable option for treating this symptom.
In an early study, nearly every one of 100 subjects suffering from multiple sclerosis found reduced pain and spasticity after smoking or inhaling marijuana. Other studies, however, have shown no change in patients, or even evidence of increased spasticity.
Marijuana for Spasms
Though more research is required, and cannabis may not be the right choice for every patient, marijuana may work as well or better than the usual pharmaceutical drugs, especially since it is often found to produce fewer or less severe side effects. Furthermore, marijuana can do double duty by both calming spasms and reducing pain.
Stop Nausea with Cannabis
Some of the earliest tests involving marijuana were done to determine its effect on nausea caused by cancer and AIDS treatments, gastrointestinal issues, and other conditions. Some of these tests, performed using subjects undergoing chemotherapy, found cannabis to be at least as helpful as the pharmaceutical drugs usually prescribed.
Curb nausea and vomiting with the right strain and dose of medical marijuana.
A slightly different form of the common THC – officially delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol – is Delta-8 THC. Less psychoactive than its better-known cousin, Delta-8 THC has been used with some success in the treatment of children with chemo- or radiation-induced nausea. This dangerous symptom has been found more difficult to treat in children than in adults, and marijuana is accepted to have fewer and milder side effects than other prescription drugs.
The antiemetic properties of cannabis also serve as the impetus behind most drugs created with synthetic marijuana compounds.
Seizures Don’t Stand a Chance with CBD
The use of Medical Marijuana to decrease the prevalence of seizures – primarily in epilepsy patients – 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 symptom.
THC – the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol –seems to have a positive effect on seizures, including sufferers for which anticonvulsants did not work. Many of these studies, however, are decades old.
Cannabidiol for Dravet’s Syndrome
In Colorado, a strain of cannabis high in cannabidiol – a non-psychoactive cannabinoid also known as CBD – has been bred to treat a specific type of pediatric epilepsy – Dravet’s Syndrome – which can cause more than a thousand seizures a month in small children. Young people afflicted with the condition are administered a small amount of CBD oil daily, and as a result their seizures have decreased dramatically, from as many as 40 per day, to only one or two per month.
Chill Out with Cannabis
Stress can be caused by reduced production of a neurotransmitter called anandamide, the lack of which can lead to depression. THC, one of the compounds present in cannabis, is very similar to anandamide, and by ingesting marijuana, patients can help increase their production of this vital compound, which helps to naturally regulate stress and anxiety.
Though potentially helpful for people suffering from stress, THC also has psychoactive properties, which can have negative side effects. Research is currently underway to determine the viability of CBD in treating stress, as well. CBD – or cannabidiol – is a non-psychoactive compound also found in cannabis.
Like any medication, the dosage is important to consider when treating stress with marijuana. Lower doses are generally found to be more helpful, while high doses can sometimes worsen symptoms.
Treat General Anxiety with Marijuana
Though anxiety can be a side effect of marijuana use, there are as many studies showing its usefulness in combatting this symptom as causing it. The most likely reason for this discrepancy is the dosage administered. Low doses of cannabis (specifically THC) have been found to calm anxiety, while high doses can exacerbate it.
Soothe anxious thoughts and racing heart rate with indica cannabis.
When ingested, compounds in the cannabis act on the endocannabinoid system that exists naturally in the body. THC happens to be very similar to an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter called anandamide. Cannabis can help increase production of anandamide, which helps to regulate stress and anxiety, as well as other processes.
Though potentially helpful for people suffering from anxiety, THC also has psychoactive properties, which can have negative side effects. Research is currently underway to determine the viability of CBD in treating anxiety. CBD – or cannabidiol – is a non-psychoactive compound also found in cannabis.
Can Cannabis Treat Depression?
Depression is sometimes listed as a side effect of using marijuana. However, there are also studies showing its usefulness in combatting the condition. This discrepancy may be caused by dosage (low doses may help, while higher ones can hinder), or the type of cannabis used (sativa has an uplifting effect, while indica has a relaxing effect that could exacerbate symptoms in some patients).
It has been determined that in some test subjects, cannabis increases the production of endocannabinoids, naturally occurring compounds in the body that help to regulate mood and anxiety. Those suffering from depression could have low levels of these compounds, and increasing the number may help the body better manage and fend off depression, and stabilize mood.
The most common compound in cannabis, THC, has psychoactive properties, which can have negative side effects even if it offers relief. Research is currently underway to determine the viability of CBD in treating depression,. CBD – or cannabidiol – is a non-psychoactive compound also found in cannabis.