For decades, both the government and society have considered cannabis to be a dangerous and illegal substance. Today, that’s all changing as new research emerges.
Cannabis products are taking the medical drug market by storm. Medical cannabis is offering more advantages than many traditional prescription medications. A few popular advantages cannabis offers include fewer side-effects and improved quality of life.
While recreational and medical cannabis are legal in Canada, many people still have questions and hesitations about using it. Some people feel unsure about the side-effects and if medical cannabis works well. Many who’ve tried it, however, have found it to be a wonderful alternative to some harsh prescription drugs.
Are you on the fence about trying medical cannabis to ease your ailments or illnesses? Check out these 5 great benefits of medical cannabis and how it can help you!
The cannabis plant consists of several different compounds. The two most notable and potent compounds are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabinol). As more researchers study and test the cannabis plant, they are finding over 80 different cannabinoids.
THC is the potent psychoactive component found in cannabis. When smoked or consumed, THC gives a patient a “high” feeling that’s most commonly associated with cannabis. Despite this side-effect, THC offers several benefits such as improving appetite, mood, and reducing pain.
CBD offers similar benefits as THC but without the sensation of feeling “high.” Those who have demanding jobs or don’t like the psychoactive effects may prefer CBD products as an alternative to medical cannabis.
Each of our bodies has an endocannabinoid system or ECS which helps our body’s homeostasis. This is the system that manages our intrinsic pain, appetite, stress, metabolism, energy, motivation, sleep, and more.
The ECS is also where cannabis interacts with our body. The cannabinoids found in cannabis interact with the ECS and work as messengers throughout the body.
The ECS consists of CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are common in our central nervous system including the brain and peripheral tissue. The CB2 receptors are common in the immune and hematopoietic systems of our bodies.
THC will primarily interact with CB1 receptors which is why it offers a psychoactive effect. CBD, however, only interacts with CB2 receptors. CBD won't directly affect your brain and therefore won't cause any psychoactive feelings.
Many people often wonder if there are differences between medical and recreational cannabis. The answer is yes.
The purpose of medical cannabis is to help relieve or treat the symptoms of illnesses and other conditions. Medical cannabis typically uses the whole plant and has a higher amount of the CBD compound compared to recreational cannabis. The CBD part helps mitigate the psychoactive effects of medical cannabis.
Nearly anyone can buy and enjoy recreational cannabis. To use medical cannabis you need to have a qualifying condition and a recommendation from your doctor. Once you receive the recommendation, usually in the form of a card, you will have to renew it every year.
Anyone aged 18 or older can purchase medical cannabis if recommended by their doctor. Only people aged 21 and older can enjoy recreational cannabis.
Medical cannabis isn’t a new concept. Archaeologists discovered ancient people from China used it over 4,000 years ago to treat ailments and manage pain. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians also used cannabis for medicinal reasons on both themselves and their animals.
THC and CBD, along with other cannabinoids work together to control pain, reduce inflammation, and manage other issues. This is because they interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our body to help restore homeostasis.
Since the CB1 receptors connect to our central nervous system, they’re responsible for the body’s pain management. When THC interacts with CB1 receptors, it boosts dopamine transmission causing a euphoric “high” sensation. This helps reduce the feeling of pain.
By directly interacting with the CB1 receptor, THC is more effective at managing and reducing pain than CBD. THC will bind to these CB receptors and, to a degree, will mimic the function and role of endocannabinoids naturally found in the body.
That’s not to say CBD doesn’t have any benefits. Unlike THC, CBD works better at managing and reducing inflammation in the body. CBD doesn’t bind with the CB1 or CB2 but instead blocks them to limit their activity.
You should note that CBD might counteract some of the effects of THC when used together.
Does medical cannabis help reduce all forms of pain? The effects of medical cannabis will vary from person to person. For most, it will alter the pain pathways in the brain to help treat chronic pain.
Medical cannabis can help manage chronic pain originating from:
More research is suggesting that medical cannabis can replace harsh NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of dementia in people ages 65 and over, although it can affect younger people, as well. The disease causes connections between cells and neurons to degrade and die. This leads to loss of memory and the inability to perform other important mental functions.
Most Alzheimer’s patients experience confusion, memory loss, inability to carry on a conversation or react to their environment. As a progressive disease, it worsens over time and eventually leads to death.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s but there are some promising treatments to minimize the symptoms. One of the most noteworthy computes of cannabis, THC, may help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The main contributor to Alzheimer’s disease is the production of amyloid proteins. These proteins are insoluble, meaning the body can’t use them causing them to deposit in the organs and tissues between cells in your body. They’re often caused by DNA gene mutations found in the cells.
While medical cannabis can’t cure Alzheimer’s, research suggests that it may slow the onset of this disease. Low dosages of THC can slow the development of amyloid proteins preventing them from blocking and damaging cells in the brain.
This gives individuals struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s a better quality of life. Again, THC and cannabis can’t treat Alzheimer’s but it can give people a few more years.
Cancer research is finding that the compounds found in medical cannabis are slowing the growth and development of cancer cells in the body. Both THC and CBD can slow the growth of tumours and in some cases, can cause cancer cells to die.
In combination with irradiation cancer treatment practices, THC and CBD can work to improve radiation treatment in cancer patients. Together, they can also inhibit the progression of aggressive cancers.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, are unpleasant. Many cancer patients going through these treatments experience intense pain, discomfort, and weight loss. While it’s ultimately up to your doctor’s discretion, adding cannabis can help ease the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment.
Medical cannabis can help ease the pain and inflammation that comes with cancer treatment. The THC and CBD cannabinoids work together as mentioned above to reduce inflammation and interact with the cannabinoid receptors in your body.
Chemotherapy, along with many other cancer treatments can cause neuropathy. Neuropathy is usually a form of nerve damage that causes people to experience pain, weakness, and numbness in different areas of their body. Medical cannabis is proving to help ease this specific type of nerve-related pain.
A major side effect of chemotherapy is nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Many cancer treatment patients who’ve tried medical cannabis found it reduces the feeling of nausea and reduces vomiting.
As medical cannabis reduces nausea, it simultaneously promotes an appetite. This is allowing cancer patients to eat and maintain their strength throughout treatment.
Researchers are finding that most of medical cannabis’s various forms improve the quality of life for cancer patients. Some patients found smoking medical cannabis works well while others prefer consuming it as an edible.
If you are undergoing cancer treatment, you must speak with your doctor before trying medical (or recreational) cannabis.
Epilepsy is a complex disorder where disruption of the communication between neurons causes a seizure. Seizures can vary in intensity from small pauses to a violent seizure that leaves a person feeling headachy, tired, and confused. The causes of epilepsy include genetic disorders, brain injury, stroke, and in some cases, unknown.
Research is finding that medical cannabis, particularly the CBD compound, can help manage the severity of seizures. Those diagnosed with Dravet and Lennox-Gastout syndrome have shown the most positive responses to medical cannabis treatment.
The ECS is a major part of the nervous system along with the hippocampus, an area associated with epilepsy. Since medical cannabis interacts with the ECS system, it can affect the hippocampus and reduce the number and severity of seizures.
Researchers still don’t fully understand how exactly medical cannabis fights the effects of seizures. While current research shows positive news, more research is underway.
Today’s world is full of major stressors. More and more people are experiencing struggles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). All of which can negatively impact our overall health, mental well-being, and quality of life.
Many of these mental health disorders can affect:
If left untreated, these illnesses can lead to more serious problems such as self-destructive behaviours or suicide. Due to this, health professionals are starting to shed light on the importance of maintaining good mental health.
Medical cannabis is becoming more accepted as a way to treat such mental disorders and improve their overall mood. People who use cannabis for recreation often use it as a way to relax and boost their mood.
While research continues, many researchers are finding medical cannabis is effective for treating depression. Low doses of medical cannabis promote the production of serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone, in our bodies.
Those experiencing anxiety may find medical cannabis to be calming and relaxing. In low doses, THC and CBD regulate your body’s “fight or flight” response during stressful or anxiety-inducing situations.
If you decide you want to use medical cannabis for anxiety, depression, or PTSD you will need to get a recommendation from your doctor. For best results, only use small amounts of cannabis. Consuming or smoking too much can have adverse effects that can amplify feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
Compared to some strong prescription medications, medical cannabis has fewer intense side-effects and isn’t addictive. Your doctor will share these risks and side-effects with you before giving you a medical cannabis recommendation. Here’s a closer look at the potential risks of medical cannabis.
Larger doses of medical cannabis can cause mild hallucinations, altered perception of reality, and slowed motor skills. This makes certain actives like driving or operating heavy machinery very dangerous. Make sure you’re at home or in a safe and comfortable environment before you consume or smoke your medical cannabis.
While cannabis offers many calming and relaxing effects, it can also have adverse effects on certain people. The wrong dose or strain of medical cannabis can cause hyperactivity along with a rapid heartbeat and increased breathing.
A more common risk than overstimulation is a depressing effect, similar to the depressing effects of alcohol. Mentally, you may feel calm and relaxed but find you have difficulty with concentration and coordination. Others have experienced feelings of depression and sadness.
Other side effects include an increased appetite, dry mouth, and red eyes. Some users have reported feeling tired or fatigued the next day. Cannabis side-effects vary from person to person.
Medical cannabis is a great and relatively safe way to manage pain, improve your mood, and boost your quality of life. Those who’ve added medical cannabis to their routine have found they feel happier, healthier, and pain-free.
Want to learn more? Book a free consultation to see if medical cannabis is right for you!