Are you wondering if cannabis is the right option for you? You aren’t alone. In this article we’ll go over some of the more common reasons why people decide to start using this versatile medicine. If they apply to you, cannabis might be a good option in treating a particular condition or simply helping improve your overall wellness.
Cannabis’s ability to help with a wide variety of conditions and symptoms is due to the way its main chemical components (cannabinoids) interact with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system. This crucial system has receptors throughout the body and is responsible for maintaining our body’s homeostasis, which keeps things in balance.
Treating a Condition with Cannabis
When an injury takes place, for example, it’s the endocannabinoid system that jumps into action, sending endocannabinoids to the injured area. These naturally produced cannabinoids stabilize nerve cell damage (reducing pain) and calm immune cells (preventing the release of pro-inflammatory substances). This natural response reduces the amount of pain, damage and inflammation that would otherwise occur. Cannabinoids have also been found to aid in relaxation, protect the nervous system and reduce seizures, among other beneficial effects.
While these endocannabinoids are produced naturally, it turns out that plant-based cannabinoids (like those found in marijuana) are also able to stimulate endocannabinoid receptors, producing the same type of benefits. By using cannabis, patients are able to stimulate their body’s natural defenses:
- significantly reducing pain and inflammation.
- combating seizures and muscle spasms.
- stimulating the immune system.
- aiding in relaxation.
Since so many conditions involve one or more of these symptoms, it’s not all that surprising that cannabis can help with such a long list of ailments.
Wellness with the Use of Marijuana
For others, using cannabis is less about treating an illness and more about finding increased wellness. Cannabis has a lot of positive side effects, and for some, using it is about finding more joy, relaxation or creativity. For example:
- 76% of respondents reported using cannabis for relaxation.
- 85% said that it enhances their creativity.
- 47% reported using cannabis for mood elevation.
- 14% also reported using cannabis as a sexual enhancer.
Recreational Substances or Cannabis?
Cannabis is also a commonly used recreational substance, which (especially in states where it’s recreationally legal) can be an excellent replacement for alcohol, cigarettes or other recreational drugs. Whether you’re having a glass of wine, cocktail or other harder substance to relax at the end of a hard day, socialize with friends or distract your mind from the daily grind, cannabis can be a safer alternative than most recreational substances. For instance, alcohol is fine in small doses, but can lead to serious addiction and even death when taken in large amounts or with too much frequency. In states with legal cannabis, alcohol sales are going down, demonstrating the growing trend of replacing alcohol with cannabis. Research supports these claims, with studies showing that cannabis can help reduce addiction to alcohol and other substances such as tobacco, heroin and cocaine.
Cannabis Instead of Pharmaceuticals?
There are so many reasons why people choose to use cannabis to improve their health and wellness. The myth that prescription drugs are safer than marijuana is completely false. Both marijuana and prescription painkillers have potential psychoactive side effects, but the long-term effects of marijuana use appear to be far safer and not at all life-threatening. If you have a condition that others report cannabis as benefiting, you may find cannabis to be a good potential option for you. You might recognize that cannabis helps with many conditions but wonder why patients don’t just stick with the traditional pharmaceutical medications offered by most doctors. After all, cannabis is controversial, still illegal (to varying degrees) in many areas and continues to be misunderstood and stigmatized. So why take the risk when other options exist? The simplest answer is that for many people, other options just aren’t working for them. They’ve tried the pharmaceutical options and haven’t found anything that helps. Or for some, the negative side effects and risks of their pharmaceutical options may outweigh the positives.
Others have found traditional treatments to be helpful, but say that cannabis does a better job and comes with far less risk to their health. Take opiate pain killers for example. Safety may be a strong motivating factor here. Opiates are extremely addictive and dangerous. Over 33,000 people die each year from opioid overdoses, and the death toll has continued to rise. That said, in areas where cannabis is legal, opiate-related deaths have gone down by 25%.
As we move toward decriminalizing or, in some cases, fully legalizing the use of marijuana, users can further tailor medical cannabis to suit their needs by selecting strains that are appropriate for treating their condition at medical marijuana dispensaries or even to grow at home. The list of conditions that medical cannabis can be helpful in treating includes:
- Can stop or slow progression in growth of cancerous tumors
- Relieves chronic pain
- Can encourage appetite in cancer and HIV patients, as well as sufferers of eating disorders
- Can relieve pressure in the eyes caused by glaucoma
- Can reduce cell damage caused by chemotherapy
- Can help relieve nausea
- Helps control muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
- Reduces the severity and frequency of seizures in epileptics and patient suffering from other seizure disorders
- Provides relief from the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and IBS
- Provides relief from the debilitating tremors associated with Parkinson’s
- Relieves the symptoms of PTSD
- Provides relief from general anxiety disorders
- Provides relief from sleep disorders
- Can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s
This is just a sampling of the conditions that can be treated with the medical cannabis.