Cannabis has been used to treat many different ailments since as early as 2700 BC, according to the first documented medicinal treatments with cannabis found in China and India. In fact, up to the end of the 19th century humanity was still using cannabis tonics for different medicinal purposes and people could purchase those at any general store. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century and more specifically the 1940s that, following the trend imposed by the United States —back then potency number one in the world —, the rest of the countries also prohibited marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.
Thankfully, now the world policies are changing again and the recent decade has found an increased tendency towards the legalization of cannabis consumption, which brought back the possibility to use it for medicinal purposes. Here are some of the precise uses of medicinal 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 that we have in our brain and skin and regulating the response of our brain cells 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: Medicinal cannabis has also been shown to have anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. Studies have found that some cannabinoids can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms by interacting with the brain’s receptors. It is a good alternative to traditional antidepressants and anxiolytics for those who have not found relief with these medications or experience unpleasant side effects.
- Nausea and vomiting: The cannabinoid THC has been proved to reduce these symptoms by interacting with the brain’s receptors that regulate nausea and vomiting. This is important especially for cancer patients to help them deal with the side effects of chemotherapy.
- Appetite stimulation: The people who consume marijuana for recreation understand the feeling of the “munchies”, that appetite we get a while after smoking or consuming THC. This stimulation of appetite 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 a 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 symptoms of conditions 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: Medicinal 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. Because it has 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, medicinal cannabis has a wide range of uses and potential therapeutic benefits. It can be an effective treatment for a number of diseases or medical conditions, but perhaps the fact that it was declared illegal for a short while has set us back when it comes to research. That means there is still much to be learned about the effects of cannabis on the body, the right doses and all the possible applications.
On a final note, remember that the consumption of cannabis products for medicinal treatments should always be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider, because the 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 buy them on the street from an unverified provider. For that, here in Barcelona we have government approved providers, dispensaries and weed clubs where people can get excellent quality products and find the right advice from knowledgeable staff.