The benefits of marijuana were known to mankind long before the Common Era. Since 2737 BC, people have been using weed to treat rheumatism, malaria, gout, absent-mindedness, and inflammation.
Better yet, the importance of medicinal value was attributed to the herb’s psychoactive properties — the same feature that later fueled the war against the plant.
Gradually, the use of marijuana spread from China to India, and then to Arabia to North Africa, reaching Europe as early as AD 500. The medical benefits of marijuana were listed in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1850 until 1942. Doctors were prescribing weed for different medical conditions, such as nausea, rheumatism, and labor pain.
Then, of course, came the prohibition, which erased marijuana from the list of acknowledged medicines and rescheduled it to a drug of a similar abuse potential to heroin, and no medical benefits whatsoever.
Given the above, it’s no wonder some people may raise their eyebrows when you tell them about the therapeutic properties of pot, even though marijuana is slowly but surely being redeemed in the mass media.
In this article, we go over 9 benefits of marijuana you probably didn’t know about.
Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the two major cannabinoids in marijuana, has the ability to stop the cancer spread by turning off a gene called LD-1.
In 2007, the researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco experimented on breast cancer cells in the subjects with high levels of LD-1 — and treated them with CBD.
As it turned out, CBD lowered the concentrations of LD-1 genes in cancer cells, causing them to spread less aggressively.
In fact, the American Association for Cancer Research claims that both THC and CBD in marijuana can significantly slow down tumor growth in the brain, breast, and lungs.
THC, the psychoactive constituent of marijuana, slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and can even prevent the condition as shown by a 2006 study conducted by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute.
THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain responsible for their production. These plaques destroy cells in the brain and are the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to recent studies from Israel, smoking marijuana remarkably eases pain and reduces tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. But most importantly, patients who were smoking marijuana also noted the improvement of motor skills. Medical marijuana is legal in Israel and the Israeli Government openly supports the research into the medical applications of weed.
A 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found out that 86% of patients using marijuana succeeded in their hepatitis C treatment, compared to only 29% of the non-smokers who completed their treatments.
What’s more, Cannabis also improved the treatment’s effectiveness. 54% of the patients using marijuana kept their viral levels consistently low, while only 8% of the non-smokers succeeded to reduce and maintain them.
While CBD is hands down a potent anxiolytic agent, it appears that THC might contribute to the reduction of anxiety when administered at low-to-moderate doses.
In 2010, scientists at Harvard University concluded that one of the health benefits of marijuana is the ability to reduce anxiety and improve the user’s mood at low dosages. However, high doses of THC can elevate the feelings of anxiety and trigger paranoid thinking, so it’s best to keep your intake of weed in moderation.
Here’s an interesting study, published in January 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study showed that marijuana can actually increase lung capacity and lung functions.
Researchers investigating risk factors behind heart disease observed 5,115 young adults over a period of 20 years. What they found out was that only weed users showed an improvement in lung capacity, compared to tobacco smokers who lost function over time and abstain from marijuana.
While this benefit is not always about sunshine and rainbows, some people may find it particularly useful, especially those suffering from PTSD. By interrupting the REM stage of sleep, marijuana prevents dreams (including nightmares) from occurring. Research has shown that THC can significantly decrease the number of nightmares experienced by PTSD patients.
On top of that, marijuana may be a more effective sleep aid than conventional medications because the latter may potentially worsen your sleep routine — and weed typically makes you get up well-rested without serious side effects.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel condition that causes debilitating pain, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, troubles with appetite, and weight loss.
A recent study from Israel pointed to marijuana as a potent reliever for Crohn’s disease symptoms. 10 out of 11 patients reported a dramatic decrease in the frequency of their symptoms, while five of those patients noted a complete cancellation of the disease.
In 2011, researchers reported that marijuana reduces inflammation and pain, and promotes sleep, which may help alleviate the discomfort in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Scientists at the rheumatology units at a number of hospitals provided their patients with Sativex, a cannabinoid-based analgesic medicine. After two weeks of the treatment, patients using Sativex experienced a significant drop in pain levels and gained better sleep quality compared to the placebo group.
There’s more to the medical potential marijuana than the above benefits. In fact, numerous studies have suggested that marijuana can relieve the following conditions:
Many governments started to support the research on medical marijuana after witnessing the emerging evidence of its benefits in countries which legalized the herb for both medical and recreational use. As more countries change their policies toward weed, we may soon expect a true revolution in the world of contemporary medicine.
What do you use medical marijuana for?