Cannabis has been used to treat many different diseases since the early 2700 BC, according to the first documented medicinal treatments with cannabis found in China and India. In fact, until the late 19th century, mankind was still using cannabis tonics for different medicinal purposes and people could buy them in any general store. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century and more specifically in the 1940s that, following the trend imposed by the United States, then the world's number one power, the rest of the countries also banned marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.
Fortunately, now global policies are changing again and the last decade has shown a growing trend towards the legalization of cannabis use, which has brought back the possibility of using it for medicinal purposes. Here are some of the precise uses of medical cannabis:
- Pain relief: Studies have shown that cannabinoids can help reduce pain by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system, binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors we have in our brain and skin and regulating our brain cells' response to stimuli such as pain. This makes cannabis an effective treatment for conditions such as chronic pain, neuropathic pain and pain associated with multiple sclerosis.
- Anxiety and depression: Medical cannabis has also been shown to have anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. Studies have found that some cannabinoids can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by interacting with receptors in the brain. It is a good alternative to traditional antidepressants and anxiolytics for those who have not found relief from these medications or experience unpleasant side effects.
- Nausea and vomiting: The cannabinoid THC has been shown to reduce these symptoms by interacting with receptors in the brain that regulate nausea and vomiting. This is especially important for cancer patients to help them cope with the side effects of chemotherapy.
- Appetite stimulation: People who use marijuana recreationally understand the feeling of "munchies," that appetite we feel after smoking or consuming THC. This appetite stimulation makes THC an effective treatment for conditions such as anorexia and cachexia. This can also be beneficial for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, as these treatments often cause loss of appetite.
- Neurological conditions: Cannabis has shown promising results in the treatment of various neurological conditions. Studies have found that cannabinoids can help reduce the symptoms of diseases such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Some cannabinoids have been shown to have anticonvulsant properties, making them an effective treatment for seizures associated with epilepsy.
- Sleep disorders: Cannabis has been used as a sleep aid for centuries. Studies have found that cannabinoids can help improve sleep quality by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system. Cannabis can be used to treat conditions such as insomnia and sleep apnea.
- Inflammation: Medical cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective treatment for conditions such as arthritis and Crohn's disease. Studies have found that cannabinoids can help reduce inflammation by interacting with the body's immune system.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a condition that causes increased pressure in the eye, which can lead to vision loss. Due to its anti-inflammatory function, cannabis can help reduce intraocular pressure, making it an effective treatment for glaucoma. However, the effects of cannabis on intraocular pressure are short-lived, so it may not be the best long-term solution for glaucoma.
In conclusion, medical cannabis has a wide range of potential therapeutic uses and benefits. It can be an effective treatment for a variety of diseases or medical conditions, but perhaps the fact that it was briefly outlawed has held us back in research matters. That means there is still much to learn about the effects of cannabis on the body, appropriate dosages and all the possible applications.
As a final note, remember that consuming cannabis products for medical treatment should always be done under the supervision of a health professional, as cannabinoids can interact with other medications and may not be suitable for everyone. And that it is always important to use high quality products and not to buy them on the street from an unverified supplier. For this, here in Barcelona we have government approved suppliers, cannabis associations and weed clubs where people can get excellent quality products and find the right advice from specialized staff.