Pot Heals

Medical Marijuana

The earth made weed. Man made chemicals. Which do you trust?

Alzheimer's Disease

Marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study led by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute suggests. The 2006 study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques are what kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s.

Anxiety

Medical marijuana users claim the drug helps relieve pain and suppress nausea — the two main reasons it’s often used to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy. In 2010, researchers at Harvard Medical School suggested that that some of the drug’s benefits may actually be from reduced anxiety, which would improve the smoker’s mood and act as a sedative in low doses. Beware, though, higher doses may increase anxiety and make you paranoid.

Arthritis

Marijuana alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, and promotes sleep, which may help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers announced in 2011.

Researchers from rheumatology units at several hospitals gave their patients Sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine. After a two-week period, people on Sativex had a significant reduction in pain and improved sleep quality compared to placebo users.

Cancer

It may help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007. Cannabidiol stops cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1, the study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, found. Cancer cells make more copies of this gene than non-cancerous cells, and it helps them spread through the body. The researchers studied breast cancer cells in the lab that had high expression levels of Id-1 and treated them with cannabidiol. After treatment the cells had decreased Id-1 expression and were less aggressive spreaders. In “WEED,” Gupta also mentioned a few studies in the U.S., Spain, and Israel that suggest the compounds in cannabis could even kill cancer cells.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder that causes pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and more. But a recent study in Israel showed that smoking a joint significantly reduced Crohn’s disease symptoms in 10 out of 11 patients, and caused a complete remission of the disease in five of those patients. That’s a small study, but other research has shown similar effects. The cannabinoids from marijuana seem to help the gut regulate bacteria and intestinal function.

Dravet's Syndrom

Charlotte Figi has Dravet’s Syndrome, and her parents are giving her marijuana to treat her seizures. During the research for his documentary “Weed,” Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treats their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC. Their daughter, Charlotte, has Dravet Syndrome, which causes seizures and severe developmental delays. According to the film, the drug has decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Forty other children in the state are using the same strain of marijuana to treat their seizures — and it seems to be working. The doctors who recommended this treatment say that the cannabidiol in the plant interacts with the brain cells to quiet the excessive activity in the brain that causes these seizures. As Gutpa notes, a Florida hospital that specializes in the disorder, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Drug Enforcement agency don’t endorse marijuana as a treatment for Dravet or other seizure disorders.

Glaucoma

Marijuana use can be used to treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision. Marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, according to the National Eye Institute: “Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.” These effects of the drug may slow the progression of the disease, preventing blindness.

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis could benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest. University of Nottingham researchers found in 2010 that chemicals in marijuana, including THC and cannabidiol, interact with cells in the body that play an important role in gut function and immune responses. The study was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. THC-like compounds made by the body increase the permeability of the intestines, allowing bacteria in. The plant-derived cannabinoids in marijuana block these body-cannabinoids, preventing this permeability and making the intestinal cells bond together tighter.

Lessen's Side Effects

One of the most well-known medical uses of marijuana is for people going through chemotherapy. Cancer patients being treated with chemo suffer from painful nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. This can cause additional health complications.  Marijuana can help reduce these side effects, alleviating pain, decreasing nausea, and stimulating the appetite for chemo treatments and other reactions to medications. There are also multiple FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs that use THC, the main active chemical in marijuana, for the same purposes.

Lung Health

According to a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2012, marijuana does not impair lung function and can even increase lung capacity. Researchers looking for risk factors of heart disease tested the lung function of 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years. Tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot users actually showed an increase in lung capacity. It’s possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking a deep breaths while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug. It may help reverse the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and improve lung health.

Lupus

Medical marijuana is being used to treat the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Ertyhematosus, which is when the body starts attacking itself for some unknown reason. Some chemicals in marijuana seem to have a calming effect on the immune system, which may be how it helps deal with symptoms of Lupus. The rest of the positive impact of the marijuana is probably from the effects on pain and nausea.

Migraines

Migraines are caused by the activation and sensitization of trigeminovascular nociceptive pathways. According to a published in the Journal of Neoroscience, marijuana, or the Endocannabinoids, works to suppress trigeminovascular nociceptive processes, effectively reducing migraines. 

Multiple Sclerosis

Marijuana may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in May suggests. Jody Corey-Bloom studied 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients didn’t respond to other treatments, but after smoking marijuana for a few days they were in less pain. The THC in the pot binds to receptors in the nerves and muscles to relieve pain. Other studies suggest that the chemical also helps control the muscle spasms.

Nausea

A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that cannabinioids, including CBD, are effective in treating nausea and vomiting in therapeutic treatments that produce these effects. This works because the manipulation of the endocannabinoid system regulates nausea and vomiting, which can be regulated with marijuana. This is one effect that makes marijuana a popular treatment for patients undergoing chemotherapy. 

Parkinson's Disease

Recent research from Israel shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson’s disease patients. Particularly impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients. Medical marijuana is legal in Israel for multiple conditions, and a lot of research into the medical uses of cannabis is done there, supported by the Israeli government.

Seizures

The findings were published in the Robert J. DeLorenzo, of Virginia Commonwealth University, gave marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana to epileptic rats. The drugs rid the rats of the seizures for about 10 hours. Cannabinoids like the active ingredients in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), control seizures by binding to the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.  The findings were published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 

Parkinson's Disease

Recent research from Israel shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson’s disease patients. Particularly impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients. Medical marijuana is legal in Israel for multiple conditions, and a lot of research into the medical uses of cannabis is done there, supported by the Israeli government.

Seizures

The findings were published in the Robert J. DeLorenzo, of Virginia Commonwealth University, gave marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana to epileptic rats. The drugs rid the rats of the seizures for about 10 hours. Cannabinoids like the active ingredients in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), control seizures by binding to the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.  The findings were published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 

Stroke

Research from the University of Nottingham shows that marijuana may help protect the brain from damage caused by stroke, by reducing the size of the area affected by the stroke — at least in rats, mice, and monkeys. This isn’t the only research that has shown neuroprotective effects from cannabis. Some research shows that the plant may help protect the brain after other traumatic events, like concussions.

Insomnia

While marijuana has been found to successfully treat insomnia, due to the active ingredient, THC, the results can vary. For example, there is a significant difference between the sedative effects of indica and sativa strains – indica being the most effective for sleep. However, there are downsides to mixing marijuana and sleep, including dependence, ‘hangovers,’ and lack of REM sleep.