Preventative care may be one solution to the escalating costs of healthcare. The strategy is to get ahead of illness, preventing sickness and injury in advance. The tactics pursued in preventative care include immunizations, diet, and routine screening tests. For some, using cannabis – no matter what way you choose to consume it – helps to de-stress at the end of a day. But that’s not the only health benefit, with the prevention and treatment of cancer, to anti-aging properties.
By now, it’s well-known that marijuana is useful in fighting symptoms of a large number of diseases and conditions. But, can cannabis actually help prevent some of these conditions in the first place? A growing mass of evidence suggests that low doses of marijuana may be key to preventing some major health problems.
What Role Can Cannabis Play In Preventative Care?
Studies by the Partnership for Preventative Care find, “preventative services are grossly underused, with racial and ethnic minorities receiving the least number of preventative care in the United States. After studying the top 12 preventative care services, the authors concluded that if Americans began to utilize any five of them, up to 100,000 lives could be saved in just one year.”
The endocannabinoid system regulates almost every biological process in our bodies and has evolved to not only restore our body’s homeostatic balance when it is ravaged by disease, but to prevent the development of diseased states in the first place. By keeping our bodies in balance and preventing imbalances, the cannabinoids in cannabis working with our endocannabinoid system can prevent the development of debilitating ailments, especially those that are age-related.
Cannabis Prevents Heart Disease
Compounds in marijuana act as vasodilators, opening up arteries and increasing blood flow to the heart. According to a recent study from the University of Nottingham, cannabinoids actually helped lower blood pressure and improve circulation in human tissue samples. Though other studies were completed in animal models, this was the first one to actually confirm these benefits in humans. More research is needed to prove these positive effects.
Cannabis Reduces Risk Of Stroke
In 2014, researchers from the University of Maryland found that marijuana consumers were less likely to have a stroke. The study took place over the course of 16 years and found that 28.8% of stroke victims had used marijuana compared with 32.7% that hadn’t suffered from a stroke. The researchers were quick to say that this doesn’t mean that marijuana prevents stroke per se. But, these findings do go hand-in-hand with University of Nottingham research published in 2013 which suggested that cannabis can help people recover after they’ve had a stroke.
Cannabis Has Analgesic Effect
Inflammation throughout the body and in the brain is linked to a wide variety of illnesses. Unnecessary inflammation is thought to play a major role in the development of conditions like Parkinson’s, autism, migraine, IBS, and many more. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating the body’s inflammatory response. Cannabis has proven anti-inflammatory qualities. Given that inflammation is the source or symptom of countless medical problems, cannabis offers a real alternative to potentially damaging prescription and over-the-counter remedies. Different strains perform differently on various conditions in varies patients. But, you can find a balance of THC and CBD that works best for you. They mitigate or eliminate cellular inflammation by interacting with the complex and widespread Endocannabinoid System.
Cannabis Aids Digestion
Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the digestive tract. In fact, anandamide, the human body’s natural THC, is the trigger that stimulates the process of digestion. It makes sense then why THC triggers appetite and kicks your metabolism into overdrive. But, that’s not all. THC has also been found to protect the gut from the harms of inflammation and injury in animal models. This makes the cannabinoid a natural medicine for flare-up prevention in those with gastrointestinal issues like IBS and Crohn’s Disease.
Cannabis Has Anti-emetic Effect
Cannabis affects the smooth muscle tissue of the digestive system. Its natural influence on the muscular movement throughout the system reduces nausea and vomiting. Cannabis stimulates the flow of anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter known as “the bliss molecule.” Among its other functions, anandamide modulates digestion and the metabolic system. And, it has been used successfully to reduce nausea and vomiting in patients in therapy for HIV/AIDS or going through chemotherapy.
Cannabis Keeps Bones Strong
Throughout your life, your bones are in a constant process of repairing and rebuilding themselves. Studies have shown that both THC and CBD facilitate the process of bone metabolism that is crucial to maintaining strong, healthy bones over time. This reduces the risk of age-related bone diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. In both of those diseases, new bone and cartilage cells are no longer being created by the body. Compounds in marijuana help spur the process of new bone cell formation.
Cannabinoids Help Prevent The Growth Of Cancerous Tumors
The American Cancer Society says, “More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.” Cannabis is anti-proliferate halting the growth of malignant cells. It also prevents cells from metastasizing (i.e., moving from one part of the body to another. And, it cuts off the food supply to cancerous cells and triggers apoptosis
Cannabis Fights Age-Related Degenerative Diseases
Alzheimer’s Disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder associated with aging. But, cannabis-derived compounds slow the advance of the disease and improve the associate symptoms. Alzheimer’s remains a mystery, but a buildup of plaque in and among the brain cells appears to be the cause. Specifically, something in the cannabis relieves the accumulation of amyloid protein. Cannabis works with the human endocannabinoid system to prevent buildup and inflammation within the brain cells. As we age, the creation of new neurons in the brain slows down significantly. In order to maintain brain health and prevent degenerative diseases, new cells need to be continuously created. Back in 2008, researchers at Ohio State University found that low doses of THC-like cannabinoids encouraged the creation of new nerve cells in animal models, even in aging brains.
Cannabis Protects Your Brain
Cannabinoids are neuroprotective, meaning that they help maintain and regulate brain health. In a landmark study published in 2000, researchers from Maryland’s National Institute of Mental Health found that CBD and THC were extremely powerful antioxidants. In the brain, the cannabinoids acting as antioxidants drastically reduced a phenomenon known as glutamate toxicity. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that signals nerve cells to fire. Too much glutamate in your brain can cause nerve cells to become overstimulated, ultimately leading to cell damage or death. Thus, cannabinoids help protect your brain cells from damage, keeping the organ healthy and functioning properly.
Cannabis Protects Your Skin
Creams, lotions, topicals, and makeup derived from cannabis will fight wrinkles and dry skin. It was mentioned earlier that cannabis has powerful antioxidant properties that protect the brain. When applied topically via a lotion or a balm, these same antioxidants work wonders on the skin. Nature’s own anti-aging serum, cannabis skin care products can repair wrinkle-causing damage from free radicals like UV rays and environmental pollutants.
Cannabis Prevents Stress-related Damage
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body. It can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, causing to insomnia. This then leads to cell damage as your body is given less time to mend itself while you sleep. Stress can cause painful and debilitating migraine headaches, as well as trigger your body’s inflammatory response. Taking a moment out of your busy day to enjoy a little cannabis reduces stress and gives you a little breather, helping your body mitigate some of the damage that chronic stress can cause over time.
THC induces psychoactive events which can be disturbing and paranoiac. But, CBD has much the opposite effect. It soothes, calms, and tranquilizes. Researchers believe CBD has an “entourage effect.” Unlike THC, it does not directly affect neural receptors. But, it works indirectly by modulating dopamine, serotonin, and cortisol. Recent studies find cannabis can relieve even the stress associated with PTSD.
Preventive care has long been used to identify the precautions advised to stay ahead of disease and injury. Cannabis in all its complexity offers preventative and mitigating options in several modes, from smoking to eating to application. Whether it is brain, heart or overall health of the body, the need for supplemental cannabinoids provided by the ingestion of cannabis is critical for maintaining health and vigor. Health care professionals should be counseling their patients to obtain additional cannabinoids through the ingestion of cannabis in the same way that they encourage the ingestion of supplemental nutrients like omega-3s, iron and vitamin D.