Over the past decade there has been a radical shift in public opinion regarding marijuana and U.S. drug law. In fact, at least 84% of the population now believes that marijuana should be legal for medical use. Even recreational marijuana usage is less controversial than ever before, with at least 61% of U.S. citizens in support of some degree of legalization.
As the debate over recreational marijuana reaches new states, marijuana’s potential medical benefits should not be overlooked. According to Business Insider, there are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers believe hold legitimate medicinal applications: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD can impact the brain without producing the altered state that THC induces. In addition to causing the “high” marijuana users crave, THC also has pain relieving properties. Even the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse recognizes medicinal uses for THC and cannabis.
So what exactly are these reported medical benefits?
Anxiety disorders are extremely common in Americans of all ages, and this disorder co-occurs in 50% of adults diagnosed with ADHD. Everyone feels anxious in stressful situations, but other people suffer from extreme anxiety that impacts their quality of life. Marijuana, if administered properly and professionally, can help quell feelings of anxiety in a matter of moments.
According to Leafly, CBD has generated a tremendous amount of interest among researchers, scientists, clinicians, investors, and consumers. CBD not only counteracts many of THC’s high-inducing effects, but according to numerous animal studies and accumulating evidence from human epidemiological, clinical, and experimental studies, cannabidiol has powerful anti-anxiety properties, too. As long as CBD is administered acutely and as needed, it could one day be a safe, alternative treatment for a number of anxiety-related disorders, including:
Mild to moderate depression
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Dizziness, nausea, and headache relief
Cannabis can active specific endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, mainly in the central nervous system. As a way to combat nausea, THC has been extensively studied with placebo-controlled trials. A similar FDA-approved drug called Nabilone is already available on the market.
When it comes to headaches, research has also shown that cannabis can help relieve the chronic pain associated with migraines and mitigate related symptoms. More research is needed, however. Dizziness is actually the second most common complaint heard inside doctor’s offices, and will occur in 70% of the nation’s population at some point in their lives. In fact, it’s been estimated that 65% of individuals older than 60 years old experience dizziness or a loss of balance on a daily basis. Though dizziness appears to be more of a side effect than a therapeutic target, cannabinoid receptors in the central vestibular system could address balancing issues.
While more research is needed, the Internet is full of self-proclaimed experts who believe that marijuana and CBD can cure a variety of physical and mental health problems. As with all medical advice that comes from the Internet, these proclamations should be taken with a grain of salt.
Finally, some studies have shown that CBD can help patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy. A number of people who suffer from epilepsy and frequent seizures have reported that marijuana is the only thing that actually helps control or lessen the severity of their seizures. While this anecdotal evidence is promising, it’s hardly conclusive.
As medical marijuana becomes more accepted across the United States and the rest of the world, more and more research and experiments will take place, as well. Hopefully, we are only at the beginning of discovering all of the medical advantages of marijuana.