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Despite the negative social stigma that is often associated with marijuana and its various products, science and clinical research continues to show that this amazing plant has medicinal properties that shouldn’t be overlooked (not excluding the various uses of hemp). Here are nine amazing health benefits of marijuana – and these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA, about 1.5% of the adult population in the United States deals with significant anxiety each year. A study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that low to moderate marijuana consumption can alleviate anxiety, but heavy consumption can increase the likelihood of anxiety attacks and cause symptoms such as paranoia.
Although numerous cancer patients use marijuana to alleviate the nausea caused by chemotherapy, there is new evidence to suggest that cannabidiol, one of the primary compounds in marijuana, can slow the growth of cancerous tumors. Research published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics back in 2007 showed that cannabidiol effectively shuts down a gene called ID-1, which is the gene cancer cells use to spread to healthy cells.
The health benefits of marijuana also include its ability to treat the pain associated with glaucoma, which causes increased eye pressure and often leads to vision loss. Back in 1979, a study published in International Journal of Pharmacology and Biopharmacology showed that marijuana quickly and effectively reduced eye pressure in 16 patients with narrow-angle glaucoma. Thus, researchers in pharmaceutical companies around the world are currently working on marijuana-based drugs to treat glaucoma pain.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tremors that worsen as time goes by. One of the most amazing health benefits of marijuana is its ability to alleviate those tremors and even improve fine motor function in Parkinson’s patients. A 2013 study conducted by researchers in Israel measured patients’ ratings on the UPDRS (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale) before and after they smoked cannabis. The average rating before using marijuana was 33; half an hour after smoking cannabis, the average dropped to only 24.
Despite the belief that smoking marijuana is harmful to the lungs, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association seems to suggest one of the most surprising health benefits of marijuana. Over a period of 20 years, volunteers who used marijuana were asked to regularly undergo testing to measure lung capacity. Their lung capacity increased steadily rather than decreased.
About 2.5 million people have multiple sclerosis per the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This condition damages the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, which causes various impairments and significant pain. Back in 2012, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that cannabis significantly decreased patients’ pain levels.
Of all of the known health benefits of marijuana, its ability to alleviate nausea is the most studied. THC, the chemical that is associated with the mind-altering effects of marijuana, is also quite adept at relieving the symptoms of nausea – particularly in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments or who take other drugs that cause nausea. One of the largest studies was published in 2011 in the British Journal of Pharmacology; today, there are pharmaceutical drugs containing THC prescribed to cancer patients in several countries worldwide.
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic and progressive neurological condition that affects both short-term and long-term memory. Research conducted by the Scripps Research Institute and published in Molecular Pharmaceutics back in 2006 showed that marijuana can inhibit enzymes thought responsible for the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the joints – namely in the hands, fingers, feet, ankles, and wrists. A 2006 study in Rheumatology focused on 58 patients who were dealing with RA at various stages over a period of five weeks. The half of the group that used Sativex, a marijuana-based pain medication, had improvements in morning pain and sleep quality compared to patients who took a placebo.
The health benefits of marijuana are numerous, and many of them are quite surprising. With marijuana being legalized for medical and recreational use in several US states, research is still ongoing. However, with the hundreds of studies already published and the testimonies from patients around the world, it’s safe to say that marijuana can be an effective treatment option for dozens of health conditions.