Medical marijuana is the medical use of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant to relieve symptoms of or treat diseases and conditions. The Cannabis plant was used medically for centuries around the world until the early 1900s. Medical marijuana facts can be difficult to find because strong opinions exist, both pros and cons. Medical uses and emerging research on off-label uses are summarized in this article.
What are THC and CBD?
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. It is responsible for the "high" people feel. There are two man-made drugs called dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet) that are synthetic forms of THC. They are FDA-approved to prevent nausea and vomiting in people receiving chemotherapy.
CBD or cannabidiol is another compound in marijuana that is not psychoactive. CBD is thought to be responsible for the majority of the medical benefits.
Epidiolex is a CBD oil extract that is undergoing clinical trials for epilepsy.
THC:CBD: Nabiximols (Sativex) is a specific plant extract with an equal ratio of THC: CBD. It is approved as a drug in the UK and elsewhere in Europe for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, spasticity, neuropathic pain, overactive bladder, and other indications.
Medical marijuana products are available with a huge range of THC and CBD concentrations. The expert opinion states that 10mg of THC should be considered "one serving" and a person new to medical marijuana should inhale or consume no more until they know their response.
What are the uses for medical marijuana?
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Medical uses of marijuana include both studied and approved uses and off-label uses. In a recent research survey, the most common reasons people use medical marijuana are for
- muscle spasticity, and such as Crohn’s disease.
More research has been conducted on the compound CBD. Medical CBD is anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, neuroprotective, and anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and anti-emetic. The CBD compound in medical marijuana appears to be neuroprotective in Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease, fetal hypoxia, and other neurodegenerative conditions and movement disorders.
What are the health benefits of medical marijuana?
There are over 60 peer-reviewed research studies examining the benefits of medical marijuana. Sixty-eight percent of these studies found benefit while 8% found no benefit. Twenty-three percent of the studies were inconclusive or neutral. Most research has been conducted on the compound CBD. The benefits of medical marijuana can be attributed to binding to the endocannabinoid system. This has many effects including
- modulating the immune system,
- promoting neuroplasticity,
- emotional and cognitive modulation including learning and motivation, appetite, vascular function, and digestive function.
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Are there any side effects of medical marijuana?
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Medical marijuana side effects are minimal when used at low doses and include
At higher doses, side effects include
, , and
- psychoactive effects including mood changes and hallucinations.
There are concerns about the adverse effects of cannabis among adolescents because the risks are greater to the immature brain and neurological system. Concerns include increased risk of schizophrenia and loss of IQ.
There are public health concerns about the safety of driving under the influence of medical marijuana. A JAMA study found lower rates of opioid overdose deaths in states with legal medical marijuana.
Is medical marijuana legal?
At the time this article was written, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana with varying restrictions. However, it is classified as a Schedule I substance by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and thus is illegal at the Federal level. In most states with legal medicinal marijuana, a prescription, authorization, or medical recommendation is required, and a card or license is issued. This allows a person to buy medical marijuana.
How do you get medical marijuana?
In states where medical marijuana is legal, shops, often called dispensaries, sell marijuana products in a variety of forms. Medical marijuana is available in
- edible forms (candies or cookies),
- oils, and extracts, and
- as the plant which can be smoked or otherwise inhaled.
Dispensaries require a medical marijuana card before they will sell products. How people can get a medical marijuana card varies by state. It requires a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional.
Is medical marijuana “addictive?”
Most research suggests a very low risk of addiction and very low toxicity of medical marijuana when taken as recommended in low therapeutic doses. There is concern about psychological dependence in heavy users and whether this constitutes marijuana abuse. Some research has suggested CBD oil might be useful in the treatment of marijuana addiction or marijuana abuse.
What research is being done for medical marijuana?
There are numerous studies underway on medical marijuana, but research is challenged by limited access given the FDA classification. A search of the National Institutes of Health-funded projects list in 2016 revealed 165 studies related to cannabis and 327 studies related to the search term marijuana. The majority of these studies are surveyed into use patterns. Many are also basic science studies investigating how the endocannabinoid system in the brain and immune system works. Survey studies that anonymously assess users' habits and reported benefits may provide insight into the effects of real-world use patterns. There are over 60 peer-reviewed research studies that have been published about medicinal cannabis. Sixty-eight percent of these studies found benefit while 8% found no benefit. Twenty-three percent of the studies were inconclusive or neutral. The most promising areas of research appear to be in the use of CBD for neuroprotection.
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Teesson, M. et al. “The relationships between substance use and mental health problems: evidence from longitudinal studies.” In: Stockwell, T. et al. “Preventing harmful substance use: the evidence base for policy and practice.” Chichester, UK: John Wiley; 2005. p. 43-51.
Fernández-Ruiz, J. et al. “Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid.” Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Feb;75(2):323-33.
Sexton, M., et al. “A Cross-Sectional Survey of Medical Cannabis Users: Patterns of Use and Perceived Efficacy.” (Under Review 2016: Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research).
Murnion, B. “Medical Cannabis.” Aust Prescr. 2015 Dec; 38(6): 212–215.
Bachhuber, MA., et al. “Medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in the United States.” 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Oct;174(10):1668-73. Erratum in: JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Nov;174(11):1875.
Allsop, DJ., et al. “Nabiximols as an agonist replacement therapy during cannabis withdrawal: a randomized clinical trial.” JAMA Psychiatry 2014;71:281-91.
Brunt, TM., et al. “Therapeutic satisfaction and subjective effects of different strains of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis.” J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2014 Jun;34(3):344-9.
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- inflammation of the gallbladder(cholecystitis),
- intestinal and stomach ulcers, and
- inflammation of the pancreas(pancreatitis).
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions. There are numerous cases of nausea and vomiting. Some causes may not require medical treatment, for example, motion sickness, and other causes may require medical treatment by a doctor, for example, heart attack, lung infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life-threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers.
Medical Cannabis – What is it good for?
To identify high quality CBD oil, consider the source
As any New Yorker will tell you, bagels are better in Manhattan. Why? Because of the water! A very precise combo of minerals in New York metro water makes it perfect for producing delicious bagels. The same goes for industrial hemp.
The hemp MUST be shipped locally — in Europe or the U.S. — from organic farmers who are committed to quality hemp. It’s more expensive than hemp from China, but it’s worth it. The brand I reccomend comes from Russia with specially bred industrial organic hemp plants that are primarily grown as an agricultural crop, by farmers we have relationships with and who care about the plants they tend. This is important. If there’s ever an issue with a harvest, I know about it and make decisions that maximize the quality of the products we sell.
That care doesn’t stop at the farm. How CBD hemp oil is extracted from the plant is crucial. While our specially bred industrial hemp plants have a naturally higher level of CBD, the direct plant extracts are still low. To obtain a higher concentration of CBD, C02 extractions methods are preferred. This chemical-free “cold” CO2 extraction method is more expensive, uses safer solvents and ensures a highly potent and pure extract. It’s also eco-friendly, non-toxic and has negligible environmental effects.
Contrary to the safer CO2 method,the Rick Simspon extraction method, uses petroleum solvents to extract the active compounds from the cannabis plant. These solvents leave petroleum-based residues, which end up in the CBD oil and have been shown to impact all sorts of hormona and biological functions negatively. Additionally, while this method is efficient (and cheaper), it generally produces products with a lower concentration of CBD.
Check Independent 3rd-Party Lab Results
Make sure your company you buy from has and makes puplically available independent laboratory testing results and follows pharmaceutical grade testing criteria. They should have quality testina results for over 200 chemicals, including pesticides, residual solvents and heavy metals as well as for microbiological contaminants.
Less than .03% THC
High quality CBD hemp oil contains less than .03% of THC. Speaking of bagels, that low amount of THC can be equated to the same amount of opiates found on a poppy seed bagel. While both poppy seeds and heroin comes from the poppy plant, eating fifteen bagels will not get you high. (It’ll probably make you sick to your stomach, however!) Similarly for CBD, while hemp and marijuana are related, industrial hemp is, “… low in resin, does not produce a natural abundance of THC and can be sold and imported in all 50 states according to the ‘FARM BILL’.
Make sure your hemp oil extract is a Whole-plant extract
Additionally, USE THE WHOLE PLANT, CBD oil. Whole plant CBD oil is extracted from the stem, seeds and stalks of the hemp plant. This oil includes not only CBD, but the full range of other natural constituents (terpenes, sugars, flavonoids, and secondary cannabinoids) that are found in all parts of hemp and are believed to work better together.
Overall I’m a big fan of the “healthy, not high,” benefits of CBD hemp oil. While the oil may not taste as delicious, I think it’s still pretty good and I encourage you to find out for yourself.
15 Essential Health Benefits of THC
This is the same compound that produces the “high” in cannabis.
It has generated more than its fair share of critics, and many believe that the compound has no medicinal value at all.
Yet, science has demonstrated this is far from the case.
In conjunction with other cannabinoids, the molecule has been found to help people deal with mental and physical ailments.
Not to mention many people find THC-rich products – when taken at just the right dosage – to be an effective supplement towards their everyday health.
Just check out these 15 health benefits of THC.
#1.) THC Provides Pain Relief
Pain relief is one of the top medical benefits of THC, and I’ll tell you why…
More than 1.5 billion people worldwide live with chronic pain. Many of these individuals suffer from neuropathic pain or nerve-related pain.
Studies show that the cannabis compound activates pathways in the central nervous system that block pain signals from being sent to the brain.
Even an FDA-approved trial in 2013 confirmed THC’s effectiveness for pain relief.
Individuals experiencing neuropathic pain were given low doses of THC (1.29%) in the form of vaporized cannabis. The results?
“A low dose of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol provided statistically significant 30% reductions in pain intensity when compared to placebo.”
While clinical research continues to be restricted due to cannabis’s regretful status as a schedule I controlled substance – it is clear that a positive correlation exists between THC and pain relief.
#2.) Eases Nausea & Vomiting
Did you know that an FDA-approved THC pill
(Marinol) for treating nausea and vomiting in cancer patients has been around since the 1980s?
In fact, Marinol has been marketed as a pharmaceutical alternative to cannabis.
However, while Marinol does contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound is both synthetic and isolated.
Which means that it pales in comparison to the entourage chemical compounds found in natural, whole-plant cannabis.
Marinol does not include beneficial components such as other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, all of which work better together rather than separately.
Interestingly, a study in 1995 revealed that oral doses of THC-8, a cannabinoid-like the regular THC but with lower psychotropic effects, were an effective treatment for children suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea.
The only side effect found was slight irritability.
Considering that other nausea medications such as Zofran can lead to side effects like: diarrhea, headache, drowsiness, blurred vision, muscle spasms, rash, fever, and constipation just to name a few – THC-based therapies are a much safer option.
#3.) Protects Brain Cells
Reefer madness led a lot of people to believe that cannabis consumption kills brain cells. However, the reality is this could not be further from the truth.
While most drugs are neurotoxic, THC is considered to be neuroprotectant. Which means that it actually protects brain cells from damage.
Here’s a mind-blowing example: a study in 2014 found that people with THC in their systems were 80 percent less likely to die from traumatic head injuries than those without.
#4.) Effective Sleep Aid
Have trouble sleeping? Research shows that THC health benefits play a role here as well.
Trials in the 1970s found that oral doses of the cannabinoid helped insomniacs fall asleep faster.
And that’s not all.
Recent research suggests it may also improve breathing while reducing sleep interruptions.
Great news for those suffering from conditions such as sleep apnea!
#5.) Helps Treat PTSD
It’s estimated that 8 percent of Americans (24.4 million people) currently suffer from PTSD.
To put that into perspective, this number is equal to the population of Texas.
PTSD can include symptoms such as agitation, severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares, and social isolation – it can be a crippling condition.
Yet, THC has shown to be a highly effective treatment option for PTSD.
Some psychiatrists say that THC-rich cannabis is the only treatment for PTSD.
In fact, studies have confirmed that THC eases a variety of PTSD-related symptoms including agitation, depression, insomnia, flashbacks, and nightmares.
This means that for those suffering from PTSD, they can finally get the peaceful sleep they need to heal and regain balance in their lives.
All they need is safe access to cannabis and guidance on how to best implement it into their lives.
#6.) Promotes Brain Growth
Believe it or not, the medical benefits of THC for the brain may be even bigger than we thought. Not only does the psychoactive protect brain cells, it also stimulates brain growth.
How does it work?
THC activates the “CB1 receptor” in our brains. This stimulation promotes a process known as long-term potentiation which improves the brain’s ability to learn.
Scientists also discovered that like CBD, THC causes brain cells in the hippocampus to grow.
Some research even suggests that THC can protect spatial memories.
This is why small doses of cannabis can treat or even slow down diseases such as Alzheimer’s. THC can also help protect against Alzheimer’s in other ways, too.
If that weren’t enough, we also have a study showing people with THC in their systems are 80% more likely to survive head trauma!
#7.) THC Increases Appetite
Conditions such as HIV, eating disorders, hepatitis, and dementia can lead to a loss of appetite.
Over time, this can result in severe malnourishment or even death.
Researchers have found that THC interacts with the same type of receptors in the hypothalamus that release the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. In fact, THC can even make food taste better.
While some have written off these effects as a case of the “munchies” there is something much more profound going on here.
With the right approach, THC hunger-inducing effects can dramatically improve quality of life. And in some cases, even save lives.
Interestingly, certain cannabis cultivars can also suppress appetite, which can be another advantage for a lot of people.
#8.) Enhances Senses
You may not consider this among the other THC health benefits, but hear me out…
Many people have steered away from THC due to its psychoactive effects.
In fact, a lot of prohibitionists claim this is what makes cannabis so “dangerous” in the first place.
However, people have been enjoying the psychoactive components of the cannabis plant for thousands of years.
Cultures across the globe incorporated the plant in spiritual ceremonies and rituals for this very purpose.
While the psychoactive effects of THC may not agree with everyone, that doesn’t mean we all should steer clear.
Especially given that it is impossible to fatally overdose on THC.
Cannabis used with intention and the right dosage levels provides countless benefits.
From life-changing revelations to enhanced creativity to deeper personal insights.
For many people, the enhancing effects of THC provide very real psychological benefit and relief.
#9.) THC is Antibacterial
Did you know that one reason cannabis plants produce THC is to protect itself from pathogens?
As it turns out, the cannabinoid may do the same for humans and animals.
In a rodent study published in Plos One discovered that treating mice with dietary THC effectively changed their gut microbes over time.
In this particular case, the cannabinoid changed the gut microbes of obese mice into a microbial community more similar to lean mice.
But, that’s not all.
In 2008, researchers at MIT discovered that treating a concerning antibiotic-resistant pathogen with the psychoactive successfully killed the bacteria when other drugs could not.
The bacteria in question was Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which causes serious gaping wounds when left untreated.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, antibiotic-resistant infections contribute to “two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths” each year.
Will this herb’s main component help? It’s certainly worth some investigation.
There’s a reason why cannabis has been touted as an anti-aging and anti-stress tool.
THC and other cannabinoids are potent antioxidants.
This isn’t surprising, considering that in addition to protecting cannabis plants from pathogens, the herb increases its THC production in response to UVB light.
UVB light is the type of light that causes oxidative stress in humans, contributing to visible aging and other skin diseases.
Oxidative stress can cause damage at both cellular and DNA levels.
This damage makes consumers more prone to serious ailments like cancer and neurodegenerative illness.
As a potent antioxidant, one of the many health benefits of THC is protecting the body from stress-related damage.
Inflammation is a hot topic in the healthcare world these days.
Chronic inflammation is considered a major risk factor for all different kinds of diseases.
Depression? There’s an inflammatory component.
Arthritis? Inflammation contributes to pain, stiffness, and poor health over time.
Many canna-curious individuals opt for CBD to control inflammation. However, THC has a part to play as well.
Research suggests that, in some instances, the cannabis compound can decrease the production of cytokine and chemokine compounds in the body.
Cytokine and chemokines are immune compounds that trigger inflammation.
Additional pre-clinical research suggests that it may be able to decrease inflammation by suppressing genes related to an inflammatory response.
These findings may explain why so many consumers find relief via the many health benefits of THC.
Lung health is not often the first thing you think of when considering the health benefits of THC.
Yet, believe it or not, the compound may help open airways in your lungs.
A known bronchodilator, studies conducted back in 1975 provided the first evidence of the cannabinoid’s ability to ease asthma attacks.
Interestingly, the study found that even smoked cannabis eased patent’s asthma symptoms. Though, a study of this kind certainly wouldn’t be highly thought of today.
However, some budding biopharmaceutical companies are experimenting with cannabis-based drugs for serious conditions like asthma and COPD.
Others are inhaler technologies that would allow consumers to inhale measured doses of cannabis compounds without smoke.
However, the psychoactive may not be the only cannabis compound that may assist the lungs.
A particular terpene, pinene, may enhance the bronchodilatory effect of THC.
As the name suggests, pinene is an aroma molecule that provides a strong pine scent to some cannabis cultivars.
Cannabis strains that feature high levels of pinene may provide enhanced bronchodilatory effects.
#13.) Potential anti-tumor agent
Cannabis is making waves in the realm of cancer research.
Early research in the lab and in animal models has found that the herb kills cancer cells in several distinct ways.
While multiple cannabinoids show anti-cancer potential, THC is one of the main contenders.
Dr. Gregory Smith, a Harvard-trained physician, discussed this with Green Flower, touching on emerging evidence that suggests that the psychoactive and other cannabis compounds have strong anti-cancer potential.
Specifically, Dr. Smith mentioned that there three distinct ways that cannabis affects cancer.
The first is through a process called apoptosis, which is an immune function that triggers cells to self-destruct when they are damaged or diseased.
“[Cannabis] does that apoptosis, that horrible word, that tells the cancer cell to go kill itself. It’s literally a key that turns a lock and tells the cell to kill itself,” said Dr. Smith.
But, that’s not all.
In laboratory models, the cannabinoid can block a tumor from forming blood vessels.
This essentially starves the cancer cells by cutting off their food and oxygen supply.
In addition, cannabis compounds seem to stop cancer cells from metastasizing.
As Dr. Smith explained, “It stops the cancer cell from leaving the colony of other cancer cells and going and forming its own new metastatic area in the body.”
“All three of these things are well known,” continued Smith, “and it’s mostly THC that has the anticancer effects.”
#14.) Muscle relaxant
Have you ever tried cannabis that made you feel sleepy or heavy-bodied?
THC and some complementary terpenes in certain cannabis strains may be the culprit.
It is well-known that the cannabinoid can have muscle relaxant properties.
This quality is perhaps partly why the compound is so beneficial to patients with conditions like multiple sclerosis, who often experience muscle spasticity, pain, and cramping.
In fact, a cannabis-based medicine for these exact symptoms is already on the market in over 30 countries.
The medicine, called Sativex, contains both THC and CBD.
While THC is thought to have muscle relaxant properties on its own, the molecule’s ability to ease cramps and tension may be enhanced by certain aroma compounds in the plant.
Some experts suggest that myrcene, a terpene aroma molecule with a musky fragrance, may also contribute to the heavy-bodied sensation that sometimes follows a night of cannabis consumption.
#15.) THC is an Anticonvulsant
In the world of epilepsy, CBD often gets all the credit.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating relative to THC, and the cannabinoid has successfully reduced seizure activity in clinical trials.
Many fail to realize, however, that THC also has anticonvulsant properties.
Research on the anticonvulsant properties of THC has been more or less halted due to all of the interest in CBD.
However, early research on the cannabinoid tells a different story.
Studies conducted in the 70s found that the psychoactive compound successfully reduced seizures in animal models, including baboons.
conducted in the 1940s found that THC treatment successfully reduced seizures in two of five epileptic children that were unresponsive to conventional treatment.
In this early research, was THC effective 100% of the time?
However, this early research suggests that the cannabinoid is certainly worth learning more about.