Therapeutic Benefits Of Cannabis: A Closer Look

therapeutic-benefits-of-cannabis-a-closer-look therapeutic

Today, roughly 284 million people around the world smoke marijuana, making it one of the most popular recreational drugs on the market. However, there’s another important dimension to cannabis use – the therapeutic one.

Humans have used marijuana medicinally for thousands of years. There are written records of ancient Hindus, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans using marijuana in medicine as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory, sedative, sleep aid, and appetite stimulant.

Despite such a history, it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that people in the West began to embrace the healing powers of this miraculous herb en masse. Since then, research and clinical trials have proven some of its supposed therapeutic properties to be true, with medical cannabis being increasingly legalized across the globe, including in Australia, Canada, Israel, Italy, the UK, and some U.S. states.

Want to know how patients can benefit from the therapeutic effects of cannabis? We at Herbies have taken an in-depth look at what science says about it. Medical cannabis use is a broad field of research that continues to expand, but we can already see some of the most popular applications.

May Help With Spasticity
People with spasticity suffer from painful bouts of muscle stiffness and spasms. It’s a common and poorly controlled symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), typically caused by damage to nerve pathways within the brain or spinal cord. Some recent studies of the benefits of cannabis‐based medicines in patients with MS found that such drugs may help with spasticity.

According to a 2014 systematic review by the American Academy of Neurology, there’s evidence to support the use of cannabis-based treatments for MS-linked muscle problems. In a 2014 survey conducted by an association of MS sufferers, one in five patients with MS reported using cannabis to handle their symptoms.

In a 2012 clinical trial in the UK, 279 patients with MS received either an oral cannabis extract or a placebo for 12 weeks. The main cannabinoid in the extract was THC. The researchers found that those who received cannabis experienced almost twice as much relief from spasticity.

Can Reduce Chronic Pain
Likewise, a few studies have found that cannabinoids can be helpful in treating neuropathic pain – a specific type of chronic pain that can occur if your nervous system is damaged or not working correctly. Standard treatments often provide little relief for this condition.

However, in 2022, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University found evidence that two FDA-approved synthetic products made of 100% THC – dronabinol (marketed as Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet) – provide a short-term benefit in treating neuropathic pain.

Another cannabis-based drug called nabiximols (trade name Sativex) – an extract sprayed under the tongue that has equal amounts of THC and CBD – also showed evidence of some clinical benefit in the management of chronic pain conditions. It has been approved in Canada and in European countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

May Offer Relief From Nausea And Vomiting
A number of small studies of marijuana suggest that it can be used successfully to treat nausea and vomiting – two common side effects of cancer chemotherapy. Animal studies show that CBD holds potential for anti-nausea treatments because it interacts with serotonin. This hormone helps regulate your mood and digestion, but it also can initiate nausea and vomiting in response to illness, foods, or other conditions.

In 2016, researchers found during human trials that a combination of THC and CBD may provide relief from nausea in patients going through chemo. Another study, conducted in 2021, demonstrated that cannabis use improves nausea symptoms moments after consumption, with this benefit increasing over time.

Stimulates Appetite
People have long associated cannabis with an ability to increase the appetite and enhance appreciation of food (the ‘munchies’). That’s because THC decreases the levels of peptide tyrosine tyrosine (PYY), thus increasing the levels of ghrelin, a hormone in charge of stimulating hunger.

However, an increased appetite after smoking weed isn’t just a funny side effect that has us thinking about our favorite stoners from movies. For some, appetite stimulation can be a matter of health. People with cancer, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS, as well as those suffering from anorexia, depression, or fatigue, can all benefit from proper nutrition and weight gain, and cannabis may help where nothing else does.

Can Provide Seizure Control
Early evidence from lab studies and clinical trials suggests that CBD has the potential to help control seizures in some people and animals. Research to date shows that taking CBD can lead to a dramatic reduction in seizures in patients with Lennox-Gastaut and convulsive seizures in Dravet syndrome when combined with usual antiepileptic therapy.

There’s also early evidence from clinical trials that CBD may significantly reduce seizures in people suffering from CDKL5 deficiency disorder, Aicardi syndrome, Doose syndrome, or Dup15q syndrome.

Helps Relax Your Bladder
For millions of people, overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) is a real lifestyle issue. This condition makes it hard to hold in urine and is caused by weak bladder muscles or inflammation, as well as by cancer and nerve damage.

There’s growing evidence that cannabis may help quell a jumpy bladder. In 2013, researchers who looked at the relationship between select cannabinoids and the bladder discovered that administering cannabis-based extracts improved urinary incontinence by as much as 25%. Moreover, CBD can help reduce inflammation, which may bring down bladder overactivity.

How Does Marijuana Work?
When it comes to understanding how marijuana works to treat various conditions, we first need to understand how it works in general. Marijuana interacts with our bodies through the endocannabinoid system, which regulates multiple bodily functions such as sleep, memory, hunger, and immune response. This system consists of endogenous cannabinoids, (endocannabinoids), the cannabinoid receptors to which they bind, and the enzymes responsible for creating and breaking down the endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids are basically natural cannabinoids produced inside our bodies. They conjugate with the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 to activate the system’s balancing effects. The CB1 receptors are located in the central and peripheral nervous system, while the CB2 receptors are primarily found in the periphery.

Endocannabinoids are structurally similar to CBD and THC, the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. While endocannabinoids usually trigger this system, thanks to this similarity, marijuana can do the same. For example, THC binds primarily to CB1 receptors, helping to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, relax the muscles, and stimulate the appetite.

CBD, on the other hand, has a low binding affinity for either CB1 or CB2 receptors, but it can antagonize them in the presence of THC. It also directly interacts with various ion channels to produce a therapeutic effect. For example, it binds to TRPV1 receptors, which play a key role in pain signalling and inflammation.

Scientific evidence around the therapeutic benefits of cannabis continues to grow, and we offer you the opportunity to experience these benefits yourself with some of our favorite medical strains – check them out below.

Herbies Picks: Top Medical Marijuana Strains
CBD Caramel
This plant has equal parts THC and CBD (18% each) and can be chock-full of health benefits. CBD’s anti-convulsive properties can prove to be a lifesaver for those with chronic pain and muscle stiffness.

CBD Lemon Auto
This autoflower grows well both indoors and outdoors, providing a care-free way to medicate. With THC and CBD both clocking in at 17%, this lemony pill has a strong therapeutic effect that can be used to treat many diseases, not to mention muscle spasms and inflammation of all kinds.

Solomatic Auto CBD
With 21% CBD and just 1% THC, Solomatic CBD is a go-to remedy for those who prefer the therapeutic effects of cannabis without getting high. This strain can help provide relief from pain, nausea, anxiety, and stress.

Buddha Medikit Auto CBD
Another high-CBD, low-THC strain of choice, Buddha Medikit Auto CBD can reduce inflammation and alleviate bodily pains while leaving you in a state of zen-like mental clarity and focus.

Note: This content is for informational purposes only and is not a specific recommendation or endorsement. The information provided is based on research gathered from external sources.