Pot of gold: Five benefits of medicinal marijuana

From the UK to New Zealand, medical experts all over the world are weighing the pros and cons of weed for pain management and treatment of mental disorders.

Myupchar September 12, 2019 17:17:07 IST
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Pot of gold: Five benefits of medicinal marijuana
  • From U.K. to New Zealand, medical experts all over the world are weighing the pros and cons of weed for pain management and treatment of mental disorders

  • Of the 100-odd active compounds in weed, scientists have taken a particular interest in two: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD)

  • Studies have found that CBD interacts with the bodyÃ�¢ï¿½ï¿½s endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation, and helps to control nausea and vomiting that often accompanies cancer treatment

From the United Kingdom to New Zealand, medical experts all over the world are weighing the pros and cons of weed for pain management and treatment of mental disorders. Where do Indian medical practitioners stand on this issue?

Last month at the third OJA Festival of Ayurveda, AYUSH experts spoke up in favour of legalizing medicinal cannabis in this country.

Pot of gold Five benefits of medicinal marijuana

AYUSH — Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy — comprises the main verticals in traditional Indian medicine. The Indian government instituted a Ministry of AYUSH in November 2014. The ministry has been organizing the OJA festival every year since 2017.

If India legalizes the medicinal use of weed, these are the top 5 benefits we can reap:

Pain management

Of the 100-odd active compounds in weed, scientists have taken a particular interest in two: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). While THC is thought to be addictive, researchers have developed different ways of incorporating CBD in ointments, lotions and oral medication for managing chronic pain.

Writing for Harvard Health Publishing, Dr Peter Grinspoon noted that while CBD isn’t strong enough for managing pain after a surgical procedure, it can provide relief to people living with chronic pain (this could be back pain, chronic headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia, endometriosis).

Grinspoon added that the CBD in marijuana can also help people with nerve disorders, like multiple sclerosis, manage pain.

Reducing inflammation

In the 1990s, scientists reportedly discovered the body’s endocannabinoid system while studying the effects of marijuana. While medical practitioners aren’t entirely sure how it works yet, studies have found that CBD interacts with this complex system to reduce inflammation, and helps to control nausea and vomiting that often accompanies cancer treatment.

PTSD-related sleep disorders

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition in which people who have been through a traumatic experience, like domestic abuse or rape, get flashbacks and anxiety. Often people with PTSD find it difficult to sleep - their worst memories can haunt them in their dreams. Researchers have argued that the TSH in medicinal marijuana can reduce REM sleep - rapid eye movement or REM sleep is important for learning but it is also the kind of sleep in which we dream. No dreams mean no nightmares - hence offering some people with a traumatic past the chance to sleep through the night.

However, medical practitioners caution that TSH is known to give people a high. Another issue with the use of TSH, they add, is that there hasn’t been enough research on it yet - it is difficult to conduct large studies with control groups on substances that are banned in many countries.

Managing Dravet Syndrome

Dravet Syndrome is a severe type of epilepsy that affects infants - the children get fever-induced seizures. According to the National Institutes of Health, U.S., website: “Intellectual development begins to deteriorate around age 2, and affected individuals often have a lack of coordination, poor development of language, hyperactivity, and difficulty relating to others… The main goal of treatment is to reduce seizures frequency and prevent status epilepticus.”

When an epileptic patient has multiple seizures without gaining consciousness in-between, it is called status epilepticus.

According to Dr Grinspoon, who practices primary care medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the U.S., medicinal marijuana can help to reduce seizures in children with Dravet Syndrome.

About eight years ago, a little girl called Charlotte Figi became living proof of the benefits of medical marijuana for children living with Dravet Syndrome. Charlotte’s Web, a strain of medical marijuana that has a higher concentration of CBD and a lower quantity of TSH, is named after her.

Improving appetite

If you’ve ever had bhang at a Holi party, you know that it can make you incredibly hungry. Scientists say that it’s possible that TSH sharpens the senses, making food smell and taste better.

In July 2018, researchers at the Department of Integrative Physiology and Neurosciences at Washington State University used cannabis vapour to induce hunger in lab rats. For their next step, the researchers hoped to use cannabis to increase appetite in patients who have chronic illness-induced anorexia.

Of course, taking marijuana — whether you smoke it or bake it in cookies — is not without risks. It has been known to induce anxiety, hallucinations and even depression in some people. Medical marijuana is not the same thing as smoking grass; different pharmaceutical companies have different recipes to change the volume of CBD to TSH.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more on this topic, please read Bhang: benefits and side effects.

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