More than 20 states in the United States have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Additionally, both dominant cultures and scientists have come to appreciate the many medical benefits of using this plant. Even Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent who was once against its legalization has come to believe in the health benefits of marijuana. While recreational cannabis is controversial, many scientists are working hard to legalize the drug and incorporate it into mainstream diets.
But is cannabis really that bad for you? Well, it depends on how you use it. There are negative effects that come with overusing and abusing the drug. Smoking too much cannabis or using it for non-medicinal purposes can cause overdependence and affect your emotions and memory.
When used for medicinal purposes, cannabis can provide various health benefits. Recent studies have analyzed some surprising medical properties of the drug. Below are just but a few of the benefits of using cannabis.
1) Cannabis can kill cancerous cells
This may sound untrue, but studies have shown that the drug can shrink cancer cells. A research conducted in 2007 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found that CBD (Cannabidiol), a marijuana compound can prevent cancer cells from spreading.
A different study carried out in 2012 showed that the CBD could stop metastasis in some types of aggressive cancer. Another study found that the element caused dramatic reductions in cell viability and a simultaneous arrest at every phase of the cell cycle in leukemia cells.
However, you shouldn’t ingest or inhale cannabis as a remedy for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy because these are just laboratory findings.
2) Cannabis can control epileptic seizures
A 2003 study confirmed that cannabis could prevent epileptic seizures. CBD (Cannabinoids) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in marijuana control seizures by connecting with the brain cells responsible for regulating relaxation and controlling excitement.
For those who have watched CNN’s documentary, “WEED” can attest to this fact. During the research for the film, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treat their 5-year-old child with a medical marijuana strain low in THC and high in cannabidiol. The girl, Charlotte suffers from Dravet Syndrome which causes acute developmental delays and seizures.
The film shows that the drug reduced her seizures from hundreds in a week to only one in a month. The doctors who prescribed this treatment say that the cannabidiol in the plant interacts with the brain cells to inhibit the excessive activity in the brain that causes seizures.
Forty other children in Colorado are using a similar strain of cannabis to treat their seizures, and it seems to be effective.
3) Marijuana improves lung health
Smoking pot isn’t that bad for your lungs. It can improve lung function and lung capacity when compared to cigarette smokers or even people who have never smoked before.
A 2012 study published in Journal of the American Medical Association showed that marijuana does not impair lung function. “The research tested the lung function of teenagers and found that tobacco smokers lost lung capacity over time while marijuana users showed an increase in lung function,” said Native Roots Dispensary.
4) It can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
The active chemical in marijuana, THC slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. A study done at the Scripps Research Institute produced results confirming the effect of THC on Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain contains amyloid plaques that are responsible for killing brain cells, causing Alzheimer’s disease. THC slows the formation of the plaques by blocking the enzyme that makes them. The compound also prevents protein clumps that slow down memory and cognition.
5) Cannabis treats inflammatory bowel diseases
Studies show that people with inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can benefit from the use of marijuana. A research done at the University of Nottingham in 2010 found that the cannabidiol and THC in marijuana interact with body cells that are crucial in gut function and the immune system.
The body’s THC compounds increase the permeability of the intestines, allowing bacteria in. The plant-extracted cannabinoids in cannabis obstruct these body-cannabinoids, averting this permeability and strengthening the intestinal bond.
Of course, this is a small study but, other scientists have found similar results. The cannabinoids from marijuana seem to facilitate the control of gut bacteria and intestinal function.
6) Cannabis eases the pain of multiple sclerosis
According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, cannabis can relieve the painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The study tested 30 multiple sclerosis patients who suffered painful contractions in their muscles. Other treatments proved to be ineffective, but after smoking marijuana for some days, the patients reported experiencing less pain.
The THC in cannabis bonds to the receptors in the nerves and muscles to reduce pain. Other studies also show that the compound can control muscle spasms.
The six benefits listed here only scratch the surface of the healing powers of this amazing plant. Hopefully, scientists and researchers will continue to prove its benefits and make the plant a legendary cure for many types of ailments.