New Research on Health Benefits of Marijuana Use
For decades, marijuana use has been a very controversial issue. Ever since former President Ronald Reagan launched his War on Drugs campaign, people have viewed marijuana use as a dangerous drug, which can cause a myriad of health problems and lead to more dangerous addictions.
The narrative has evolved as more states begin legalizing cannabis use. They are beginning to look at the issue from a more nuanced and balanced perspective.
Promising Benefits of Marijuana Usage
A lot of research shows that there are actually a number of health benefits of smoking marijuana in moderation. Here are some benefits to be aware of.
Treatment for Insomnia
Insomnia is a major problem that the Center for Disease Control estimates affects an estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans. Many people have stated for years that marijuana helps them sleep better. New research has recently corroborated their anecdotes. At least to a degree.
According to a recent article from Mic, it helps many patients with sleep onset insomnia. These people often have anxiety problems, which interfere with their ability to fall asleep. Marijuana inhibits feelings of anxiety, which can promote sleep.
“Experts agreed on a few things: Marijuana probably helps you fall asleep, as long as it’s a type of marijuana plant categorized as indica, rather than sativa. Indica is known the relaxing type of marijuana; sativa is thought to be energizing.
Cannabinoid receptors, which are mechanisms you already have in your brain that receive cannabis, play an important role in regulating your anxiety and keeping those lizard-brain “fight-or-flight” responses to a minimum. That’s why weed makes you calm down enough to fall asleep.”
However, marijuana can also suppress the brain’s ability to enter the REM stage of sleep, which is the restorative stage. This can make it more difficult for people to feel fully rested.
The verdict is that smoking marijuana is better than nothing for people that can’t fall or stay asleep, but isn’t the best recourse.
Treatment for Pain
Marijuana is also widely used for pain treatment. According to a report from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, preclinical and follow-up trials show that by activating the cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system, marijuana can dull feelings of pain. It can be an effective treatment for patients suffering from chronic pain disorders.
“The discovery of cannabinoid receptors, their endogenous ligands, and the machinery for the synthesis, transport, and degradation of these retrograde messengers, has equipped us with neurochemical tools for novel drug design. Agonist-activated cannabinoid receptors, modulate nociceptive thresholds, inhibit release of pro-inflammatory molecules, and display synergistic effects with other systems that influence analgesia, especially the endogenous opioid system. Cannabinoid receptor agonists have shown therapeutic value against inflammatory and neuropathic pains, conditions that are often refractory to therapy.”
The research is still in its infancy, but clinicians are investing more in it.
“Although the psychoactive effects of these substances have limited clinical progress to study cannabinoid actions in pain mechanisms, preclinical research is progressing rapidly.”
Moderate Autoimmune Disorders
Research is also showing that marijuana can be useful for moderating autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. It even shows promising findings that it could help treat Alzheimer’s Disease or even autism.
Of course, marijuana use doesn’t cure any of these chronic problems, but neither do other medications. It is another treatment option patients can consider in states that have passed medicinal marijuana laws.
“Investigators are also studying the anti-cancer activities of cannabis, as a growing body of preclinical and clinical data concludes that cannabinoids can reduce the spread of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (programmed cell death) and by the inhibition of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels).”
Treatment for Opiate Addictions
According to a 2015 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, states that have legalized marijuana have noticed a statistically significant decline in the number of patients with opiate addictions. These findings suggest that patients may turning to marijuana instead of more dangerous and addictive pain killers.
Using Marijuana in Moderation Can Be Beneficial
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but it is being legalized across the country. Research is still limited, but is progressing now that more states give medical professionals the opportunity to administer it. Studies are showing promising findings for patients. They can actually benefit from marijuana usage, although it’s still important to use in moderation.