The use of medical marijuana has increased over time, thanks to its beneficial relieving effects. With more states and countries legalizing its use, it is important to know how medical cannabis works and various conditions alleviated by this initially illegal plant. Most people use marijuana for different conditions, despite the FDA’s approval for use in two severe and rare forms of epilepsy, the Lennox Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.
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How Medical Marijuana Works?
Medical marijuana comes from the marijuana plant. Therefore, it has the same effects as recreational marijuana, such as relaxation, calming, and high feeling, only that the effects are applied towards relieving the signs and symptoms of diseases. Medical marijuana achieves its medicinal effects by taking advantage of the brains’ normal functioning. The brain uses neurotransmitters, which are chemical communication systems between the brain and other parts of the body. Neurotransmitters carry chemical messages to structures known as receptors for interpretation.
That said, medical marijuana contains up to 400 natural compounds, with 80 only being from the cannabis plant. The eighty compounds are referred to as cannabinoids, which function by attaching to particular receptors in the brain to relieve various illnesses.
Several research studies have shown that the body has two main cannabinoid receptors, which receive and interpret signals. The receptors include CB1 receptors present in the nervous system, connective tissues, organs, gonads, and glands, and the CB2 cannabinoid receptors found in the immune system. Both receptors read and interpret chemical messages, often altering physical functions.
Medical marijuana has five main cannabinoids that effectively relieve various symptoms, each producing varying psychological and physical effects. The cannabinoids include:
- THC – tetrahydrocannabinol is the most popular cannabinoid in medical marijuana. Its physical effects include muscle relaxing and anti-inflammatory. Psychologically, it is a stimulant, which is often responsible for the high feeling. Medical marijuana strains with high THC levels are good choices for patients looking for relief or want to remain alert.
- CBD – Cannabidiol moderates the psychological effects of medicinal cannabis. Medical marijuana strains with high THC and CBD contents often have few mental and more physical effects. CBD effectively reduces pain, alleviates anxiety, reduces nausea, has sedative effects, anticonvulsive, and arrests the spread of cancer.
- CBN – Cannabinol has similar properties as THC but fewer psychological effects. This compound is produced as THC breaks down. Therefore, strains with high THC will have more substantial CBN effects. The cannabinoid helps lower eye pressure for patients with glaucoma, anti-seizure, and has analgesic properties.
- CBC – Cannabichromene works to enhance the effects of THC, making the compound more potent. It has excellent sedative, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties.
- CBG – Cannabigerol often has minimal psychological effects and found in low concentrations in most medical marijuana strains. The compound has antimicrobial properties, anti-inflammatory, lowers eye pressure, and a sedative.
Note that these cannabinoids work effectively when combined. The minor compounds present in marijuana also support their effects. Professional marijuana breeders continuously analyze the strains to grow hybrid blends that balance various compounds in each type. Such adjustments help them grow medical marijuana strands targeting specific symptoms.
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Conditions Treated by Medical Marijuana
Research on the effects of medical marijuana on specific diseases is currently impossible due to the ban on the federal government‘s supported data collection. Therefore, current facts are based on user experience and observational studies, which may not be accurate. Despite such bottlenecks, below are some conditions that medical marijuana treat effectively.
- Chronic pain
Most people turn to medical cannabis when in chronic pain. Clinical trials showed that cannabis reduced up to 40 percent of pain in patients with severe health conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, spinal cord injury, cancer, chemotherapy, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle, and joint pains, among others.
CBD and THC can act on brain receptors inducing sleep for those experiencing insomnia due to chronic pain, apnea, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. However, choosing the right medical cannabis for sleep requires utmost caution, as excessive THC can keep you awake.
- Anxiety and Depression
Medical marijuana is also effective in alleviating anxiety and depression. Supporting this is a Washington State University online survey that concludes that low THC, high CBD medical cannabis reduced the symptoms of depression by 50 percent. However, note that medical cannabis’s potency varies by strain, and it is challenging to gauge individual patient’s tolerance.
Other conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana include:
How to Get Medical Marijuana?
FDA has not approved the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of these conditions. Similarly, cannabis remains an illegal drug in various states. Therefore, you should consult your doctor before using these compounds to treat your prevailing conditions.
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