Cannabis is one of the most controversial and multidimensional herbs today. Its usefulness and versatility are second to none, which is why cannabis is used extensively across several industries. Cannabis has also found its way into products created with medical backing. It has also been used for treating ailments for nearly 3,000 years.
Yet, the Food and Drug Administration does not consider cannabis a highly effective or safe treatment for medical conditions. This will be one of the significant discussions at the cannabis summit. The event will highlight the controversy surrounding this herb, as well as the way forward. This is even more crucial as a substance present in cannabis called cannabidiol received legal approval in June 2018. Cannabidiol is used for treating specific types of epilepsy, among its other benefits.
Many believe that this cannabis constituent is responsible for the dramatic increase in the use of cannabis in the United States. But a recent study says period effects are responsible. Here’s what you need to know about cannabis and its top 14 science-backed benefits.
What is cannabis?
Cannabis or marijuana is a herb composed of over 120 constituents, referred to as cannabinoids. Two well-known and highly researched components of cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
The former is primarily responsible for the ‘high’ associated with cannabis. At the same time, cannabidiol is a non-euphoric and non-intoxicating component. Cannabidiol is often available in the form of gummies, oils, drinks, as well as other crucial products for medical purposes.
Top 14 benefits of cannabis
Much research has unearthed the many benefits of cannabis over the years. These benefits have been scientifically proven. Here are the top 14 benefits of cannabis you should know, arranged in no particular order:
1. Treating mental illness symptoms
A review published in a medical journal highlighted the investigation of cannabis use for treating symptoms of mental illness.
The review’s authors discovered evidence that supports the use of cannabis to relieve post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms. Nevertheless, caution is still required as it was discovered that cannabis is not ideal for treating some specific mental health conditions, such as psychosis and bipolar disorder.
2. Drug addiction/alcoholism
According to an in-depth review published in a medical journal last year, the considerable use of cannabis may help those with opioid or alcohol dependencies effectively combat their addictions.
However, this particular finding is highly controversial as another review claims that using cannabis increases the risk of abusing drugs.
3. Combating cancer
Scientific evidence has shown that oral cannabinoids are highly effective against the vomiting and nausea that chemotherapy causes. In addition, several small studies indicate that when people with cancer smoke cannabis, it alleviates the symptoms.
Another group of studies on cancer cells indicates that cannabinoids may kill off some types of cancer or at least slow down their growth. But then, early clinical studies have only shown that cannabinoids are safe treatment options.
Unfortunately, they are not so effective at curing or controlling cancer.
4. Chronic pain
The National Academies of Engineering, Medicine, and Sciences extensively reviewed over 10,000 scientific studies on the medical benefits and disadvantages of cannabis.
The considerable use of medical cannabis for treating chronic pain was carefully examined. Chronic pain is one of the most prominent causes of disability, affecting over 25 million individuals in the United States.
According to the review, cannabis and cannabinoid-laden products act on the same receptors in the human brain and are effective at alleviating chronic pain.
As mentioned earlier, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the use of a particular medication that contained cannabidiol in 2018. This CBD-based medication, called Epidiolex, is used for treating 2 incredibly rare but severe and specific types of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These ailments are difficult to control efficiently with other forms or types of medication.
6. Multiple sclerosis
The use of oral cannabinoids on a short-term basis has been shown to significantly improve the symptoms of spasticity among individuals with multiple sclerosis. However, although the positive effects of the cannabis constituent were modest, it proved that it could work.
7. Lowers blood pressure
JCI Insight conducted a study in 2017 and discovered that CBD helped lower the blood pressure of human participants. In addition, this constituent in cannabis reduced the resting blood of the participants, including their blood pressure, after undergoing stress tests. This included isometric exercise, cold pressor, and mental arithmetic tests.
8. Treats anxiety disorders
Anxiety is the most common affliction adults have used cannabis or CBD for. According to a preclinical study, the cannabis constituent, CBD, may be effective in treating the following:
- Panic disorder
- Generalize anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
These are just a few disorders cannabis or CBD may help alleviate.
9. Reduces inflammation
It has been scientifically proven that CBD helps minimize inflammation and the neuropathic pain it causes. This was revealed after a study at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research.
10. Treatment of gastrointestinal disorders
Clinical research has revealed that some of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including CBD, can be used for effectively preventing and treating gastrointestinal disorders such as:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are crucial to minimizing and preventing severe symptoms.
11. Improves lung capacity
A specific amount of evidence shows that cannabis does zero harm to human lungs, except if the user smokes tobacco. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, cannabis significantly improves lung capacity. This study debunks the once-conceived notion that cannabis impairs lung function.
Researchers tested the lung function of more than 5,000 young adults over 20 years. The primary goal of the research was to detect heart disease risk factors.
It was keenly observed that the young adults who were tobacco smokers lost the function of their lungs over time. However, pot users surprisingly showed a considerable increase in lung capacity.
The researchers stipulate that the improved lung capacity of pot users in this research could be attributed to taking deep breaths while inhaling the drug. However, it may not necessarily be from any therapeutic chemical or substance in cannabis.
The smokers in this study were allowed to toke up several times a month. However, a more recent survey of individuals who have smoked pot on a daily basis for at least 20 years showed zero signs that smoking pot harmed their lungs.
This report goes on to prove that users of cannabis are less likely to have cancers associated with smoking.
12. Useful in treating glaucoma
One of the plausible reasons that many states and regions allow the use of cannabis – in this case, medical marijuana – is for treating and preventing glaucoma. This eye disease increases pressure in the eyeball. It severely damages the optic nerve, resulting in total vision loss.
As stated by the National Eye Institute, cannabis helps decrease this unnecessary pressure inside the human eye. Studies performed in the early ’70s revealed that when cannabis is smoked, it helped lower IOP (intraocular pressure) in adults with glaucoma and those with normal pressure.
However, the medical consensus is that cannabis helps lower intraocular pressure only for a few hours. This shows there isn’t enough clinical evidence for this to be a long-term cure or treatment.
Nevertheless, research is still ongoing, and researchers believe a cannabis-based compound will eventually be developed. This compound would help the glaucoma treatment last longer, if not for life.
13. Increases the effectiveness of treating and lessens the side effects of hepatitis C
The treatment for hepatitis C infection is quite unpleasant. The side effects of this treatment include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
These side effects can last for several months, and this has caused many patients to stop their treatment course prematurely. But using cannabis appears to boost the effectiveness of treating hepatitis C. At least 54 percent of hepatitis C patients smoking cannabis got their vital levels incredibly low and maintained them at that level, compared to only 8 percent of non-smokers.
However, a 2006 study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology discovered that 86 percent of patients using cannabis completed their hepatitis C therapy successfully.
Unfortunately, only 29 percent of non-smokers completed their Hep C therapy, probably because cannabis helps minimize the side effects associated with the treatment.
14. Relieves arthritis discomfort
It has already been shown that cannabis minimizes inflammation and relieves pain. But it also promotes sleep by alleviating pain, especially in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Researchers in rheumatology units at several hospitals were permitted to administer a cannabis-based pain-relieving medication to patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, a few of these patients were administered placebos.
After 2 weeks had elapsed, those on the cannabis-based medication experienced a considerable reduction in arthritic pain. In addition, the quality of their sleep improved dramatically over this period compared to those on placebos.
Cannabis is one of the most controversial herbs, though its components play a crucial role in the medical field. Several science-backed benefits of cannabis are highlighted above. However, even though it still constitutes something of a grey area, cannabis requires a lot more research. This will help determine whether or not cannabis is fit for public consumption.