While recreational marijuana is still faced with controversy, the majority of Americans now believe that the drug should be legalized for medical purposes. In fact, more than 20 states that already passed legislation that allows medical marijuana. As a result of the nation’s shifting attitudes on legalizing marijuana for medicinal uses, researchers have led some breakthrough studies to better understand the following health benefits that cannabis has on the body.
1. Stopping the Spread of Cancer Cells
At the California Pacific Medical Center, researchers have discovered that the active ingredients in marijuana can stop cancer from spreading by turning off the Id-1 gene. After researchers had treated breast cancer cells with cannabidiol in their laboratory, they found that the cells had less Id-1 expression and were less aggressively making copies of the gene to spread. Since marijuana is linked with anti-inflammatory activities that block cell growth and prevent the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors, the drug has also be found effective with cancer in the brain, lungs, prostate, cervix, and even pancreas.
2. Controlling Seizures
For patients diagnosed with epilepsy and other severe seizure disorders, marijuana has been linked to preventing seizures by regulating relaxation in the body. In the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that THC is able to bind with brain cells that control excitability and decrease the occurrence of seizures.
3. Relieving Arthritis Pain
While it is common knowledge that marijuana is a useful tool for pain management, researchers are now certain that cannabis can be used to reduce inflammation and discomfort for patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis too. After taking a cannabinoid-based drug called Sativex, patients at rheumatology units had significantly less pain and enhanced sleep quality.
4. Protecting the Brain from Trauma
According to research at the University of Nottingham, marijuana is able to effectively protect our brain from the trauma caused by stroke by lessening the area affected by the stroke. In addition to reducing the effects of strokes, marijuana can also decrease the bruising of the brain associated with concussions and activate the brain’s natural healing mechanisms.
5. Reducing the Side Effects of Chemo
For cancer patients going through the awful pain and nausea associated with radiation from chemotherapy, medical marijuana is often prescribed to help reduce the side effects and avoid other additional health complications. With a few FDA-approved drugs based on cannabinoids with THC as an active ingredient, it is clear that marijuana is effective at alleviating pain, lessening nausea or vomiting, and increasing appetite throughout chemo.
6. Slowing the Progression of Alzheimer’s
In a recent study lead by the Scripps Research Institute, researchers discovered that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, is able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As the formation of amyloid plaques begin to kill brain cells and cause the development of Alzheimer’s disease, marijuana can slow the formation of these plaques by blocking the enzyme that creates them within the brain.
7. Reducing Anxiety for Improved Mood
Based on research conducted at Harvard Medical School, medical professionals believe that marijuana is able to decrease anxiety and act as a sedative to improve the user’s mood. Therefore, medical marijuana is becoming an increasingly popular treatment option for military veterans returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to regulate the system that causes fear. That being said, smokers should stick with low doses to receive these results because higher doses can increase anxiety and cause paranoia.
8. Increasing Treatment Effectiveness for Hepatitis C
When patients are diagnosed with hepatitis C, the harsh treatment that follows often leads to extreme fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, depression, and severe muscle aches that last for months. In comparison to only 8% of non-smokers, a study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 54% of hepatitis C patients smoking marijuana were able to achieve low viral levels. In fact, 86% of marijuana users were able to successfully complete their therapy treatments with fewer side effects.
9. Eliminating Inflammatory Bowel Disorders
Patients who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel disorders can reap health benefits from using marijuana too. Within the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, a study found that marijuana can block the cannabinoids in our bodies that amplify the permeability of the intestines and help regulate bacteria in the gut for improved intestinal functioning. In fact, five of the 11 patients with Crohn’s disease experienced a complete remission with marijuana.
10. Boosting Metabolism
Despite the fact that pot smokers often eat more calories from the munchies, researchers in the American Journal of Medicine discovered that people who use marijuana have healthier metabolisms and weigh less than the average person. Furthermore, the researchers studied their levels of the hormone insulin and their blood sugar levels after consuming sugar. Not only does marijuana help annihilate a muffin top, but it also leads to a healthier response to sugar.
11. Improving Lung Health for Tobacco Smokers
Over time, tobacco smokers lose lung functioning and may develop lung cancer. While it was previously believed that marijuana had the same results, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that cannabis does not impair lung functioning and actually increases lung capacity over the 20-year timeframe tested. Researchers suggested that the enhanced lung health is most likely due to the deep breaths taken while using medical marijuana, rather than the active chemical ingredients.