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Marijuana

A Detailed Guide on Medical Marijuana and the Diseases It Treats

Marijuana could very well be the next holy grail in medical science. Several states in the United States are currently passing laws to legitimize its use. 

Contrary to what you have been led to believe – by the media and by the pop culture – most marijuana users are not jobless weirdos with dreadlock. They are normal people like you and me, with chronic or undiagnosed health conditions. 

If this comes as a shocker, here’s a quick rundown of the

Market for medical marijuana

A growing interest in medical marijuana has breathe new life into the cannabis market. In 2016, its sales captured more than 70% of the cannabis market. 

Take a look at the infographic below:

medical-cannabis-marijuana

Source

Even though its share in the overall cannabis market is projected to decrease by 2025, it will still be a billion dollar industry. 

Why people use it

According to Barth Wilsey, MD and a pain medicine specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center, the number one reason people are showing interest in medical marijuana is its effectiveness in treating pain. 

It could be a normal headache treatable by OTC medicine, a severe pain arising from a disease like cancer, a chronic and long-term pain associated with glaucoma or even nerve pain due to injuries or mismanaged surgery, medical marijuana can lessen it. Trials have found it to be effective against all kinds of pain.

Doctors are hesitant 

Doctors in the US are hesitant to prescribe medical marijuana, partly due to it still being under trial and its usefulness being backed more by anecdotal evidence and less by clinical studies, and partly because people often abuse it for recreational purposes. Normally, they prescribe it only when the patient is suffering from excruciating pain. It blocks the neurological pathways and pain receptors, which causes the patient to feel relaxed, and the sensation of pain slowly fades away. 

Painkillers are often prescribed after big surgeries or accidents where the patient is unable to handle the pain. Painkillers are infamous for the side-effects they cause, which is why many people are turning to medical marijuana as it is a safe alternative to painkillers. 

Marijuana card

If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and your doctor thinks that it would help you, you can get a marijuana card. Acquiring the card means being put on a list of legitimate buyers. It allows you to buy marijuana from an authorized seller, known as the dispensary. 

Treatments where it’s effective

Studies show that medical cannabis is effective in the treatment of the following conditions:

  •   Muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
  •   Nausea from chemotherapy
  •   Poor appetite and weight loss caused by chronic illness, such as HIV, or nerve pain
  •   Seizure disorders
  •   Crohn’s disease

If you are curious to know what makes medical cannabis so effective against a broad spectrum of diseases and health conditions, the answer is

THC and CBD

THC and CBD are both cannabidiols. THC is responsible for causing the high that stoners are so fond of. CBD, on the other hand, makes the consumer calm and composed. Both cannabidiols are effective against ailments and pain. The FDA has allowed the sale of marijuana strains with high THC percentage, chiefly to treat nausea and improve appetite. 

The human body has the ability to produce neurochemicals to soothe pain and inflammation. Marijuana triggers the body’s innate healing abilities. The cannabidiols mentioned before bind to specific areas in the brain and release neurotransmitting signals that numb the feeling of pain.

How it is consumed

There are several ways medical marijuana is consumed. Consumption methods include

  •   Smoking/Vaping (heated until the ingredients are released but no smoke is formed)
  •   Using as salves/topical
  •   Eating (mainly in the form of cookies or candy)
  •   Taken as a liquid extract (liquid form)

All consumption techniques are effective but not equally effective. For example, smoking is more effective than using it as topical.

The side effects

At this point you must be curious to know whether medical marijuana has any side effect. It does. However, the side-effects are rarely fatal, especially if taken in low amounts. Common side effects include

  •   Dry mouth, and
  •   Fatigue 
  •   Dizziness
  •   Drowsiness
  •   Short-term memory loss
  •   Paranoia

Fortunately, marijuana’s side-effects don’t last long. Some people reported serious side effects like severe anxiety and psychosis. But such incidents are rare, and those people were found to be using other strong psychedelics. Some researchers tried to associate long-term cannabis usage to schizophrenia and the loss of IQ, especially in adolescents. But they failed to produce enough evidence to corroborate what they claimed.

It can be said in their defense that medical marijuana is not regularly monitored by the FDA, which means shoddy manufacturers and distributors can flood the market with potentially harmful, non-FDA approved, addictive substances, keeping consumers completely in the dark about the purity and potency of the stuff they are consuming.