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7 Potential Health Benefits of Cannabis

We take a look at 7 potential health benefits of cannabis and how you can use cannabis to feel better in your daily life.
health benefits of cannabis
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Hundreds of beneficial cannabinoids

The modern world is starting to realize what our ancestors have known for a long time – that cannabis can be used to treat various symptoms and diseases. However, in the past it’s received a lot of negative attention due to propaganda and marijuana abuse by a small percentage of the population.

Cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, but the two most famous are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The latter lends marijuana its β€œhigh,” while the former is a non-intoxicating component, but both are widely used for their therapeutic properties.

This article will explain the potential benefits of cannabis and how it could benefit your health.

What you need to know about cannabis and its medical use

Marijuana remains one of the most controversial topics for researchers, doctors, policymakers, and even the public. While it has been legalized in as many as 29 states plus Washington DC, it is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

In 2019, there were 7,490 cannabis dispensary locations nationwide, according to a report by MARY magazine, and more than 120,000 people were employed in the cannabis sector at that time.

Hemp (a type of cannabis that contains 0.3% of less of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC) and all hemp-derived products became federally legal in 2018 when the Hemp farming Act was passed in the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp plants can contain incredibly high levels of another (non-psychoactive) cannabinoid called CBD.

However, to date the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD-derived medicine, which is called Epidiolex. This medicine contains purified cannabidiol and is used to help treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy, such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Most CBD products in the market have yet to be approved by the FDA because much of the research surrounding the benefits of marijuana, cannabis, and hemp is still in its early stages.

How can cannabis be used to benefit health?

After being viewed as an illicit drug for many years, marijuana is now being reconsidered on a cultural and legal basis. The majority of Americans, according to recent data, are in favor of legalizing marijuana for either medical or recreational use.

Below are some of the potential benefits of cannabis to our health:

1. It helps to treat depression and anxiety disorders

Anxiety is the ailment that individuals use CBD the most often. Psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, may all be helped by it, according to research (read more about CBD and anxiety here).

Cannabis also relaxes the body, which lessens unfavorable feelings like rage, fear, anxiety, and melancholy. The usage of CBD oil may also be an effective treatment for some other mental health conditions.

2. Regulate and prevent diabetes

Cannabis’ effect on insulin in the body leads some scientists to believe that it can help control and prevent diabetes. In fact, Forbes Magazine reported this area of cannabis research as one of the most promising.

There have been several studies linking cannabis to blood sugar stabilization, blood pressure reduction, and blood circulation improvement. The cannabinoids CBD and THCv, in particular, may dramatically reduce fasting blood glucose levels.

Some anecdotal evidence also suggests that users’ blood sugar levels begin to fall almost instantly after using or eating cannabis or CBD products.

The Journal of Cannabis Research published an interesting commentary that covers most of the significant research on THCv and diabetes and you can find out more about CBD and diabetes here.

3. Fight cancer

More recently, researchers discovered that some cancer cells growing in test dishes were killed or had their development slowed by THC and other cannabinoids like CBD. According to some animal studies, certain cannabinoids may delay the growth of tumors and stop the spread of various cancers.

Early clinical trials using cannabis to treat human cancer have been conducted, and more research is forthcoming. Cannabinoids can be used safely to treat some symptoms of cancer, according to studies so far, but they have not yet demonstrated that they can be used to prevent or treat the illness.

4. Improves lung capacity

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association put a hole in the arguments against marijuana smoking, as it suggested that occasional marijuana users may have healthier lungs than non-smokers. 

There is strong evidence, according to researchers, that the occasional use of marijuana can enhance lung capacity and airflow rates. When someone takes their deepest breath possible, their volume is defined as the total air they can exhale.

The researchers noted that people who have been smoking at least one joint per day for seven years don’t appear to have degraded lung function or capacity.

5. Helps in body weight management

Researchers wanted to know if people who use cannabis eat more (because they have the munchies) and if they have a higher body mass index (BMI). Their findings, however, showed that cannabis users actually weigh less, on average, than non-cannabis users, despite consuming more calories.

Cannabis users tend to weigh less and are less likely to be obese than non-users. More recent research suggests that this paradox may be explained by a reduction in energy storage and increased metabolic rates due to downregulation of cannabinoid type 1 receptors.

6. Prevents and regulates seizures

For several years, Epidiolex (a CBD-based medication) has been the subject of studies in the United States. These studies’ data have contributed to the evidence that allowed the FDA to approve this as a medicine on June 25, 2018.

To provide known and consistent amounts in each dose, it is made by Greenwich Biosciences, a division of GW Pharmaceuticals with headquarters in the United States.

According to preliminary data from laboratory experiments, anecdotal accounts, and clinical studies conducted over the years, CBD may help manage seizures. When CBD was added to conventional seizure treatment, children and adults with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome substantially reduced the incidence of drop seizures.

7. Helps to relieve chronic pain

Scientific research and anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis can also be used to relieve pain and the analgesic effects of cannabis may be attributed to several cannabinoids, including CBD and THC.

The number one reason why people take CBD is to help relieve and manage inflammatory and neuropathic pain and scientific research supporting the use of CBD for pain is compelling.

New research found that medical cannabis may relieve pain as effectively as opioids. This research is further supported by the fact that increased access to medical marijuana has also been directly linked to a decrease in opioid use due to many people choosing cannabis for chronic pain relief instead of opiates.

One 2018 study, for example, found that the state average number of prescriptions written for opioids dropped by over 3.7 million daily doses per year after medical cannabis dispensaries opened.

Conclusion

The cannabis plant is showing significant promise in reducing the symptoms of many common and rare medical conditions. However, many more years of research are needed to uncover the full therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabis-based medicines, partly because there are so many different chemical compounds at work within any given strain.

In the meantime, more and more people are turning to cannabis to improve their quality of life based on the perceived medical benefits. Many people prefer the idea of a natural solution, wanting to avoid pharmaceutical alternatives that often come with far more adverse effects, including the potential for addiction and overdose.

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