Medical cannabis patients are embracing this plant and all that it has to offer for a wide variety of ailments. This includes everything from nausea, migraines, insomnia, and skin conditions to multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson’s, PTSD, Cancer, epilepsy, and more. In states that offer medical cannabis programs in which medical marijuana patients can access cannabis-based products legally, there is often a list of qualifying conditions for which doctors can recommend cannabis for. Some states, such as Oklahoma and New York, have opted to allow licensed physicians to recommend cannabinoid therapies for any condition or disease from which they feel may be benefited from medical cannabis.
In most states, however, the list of qualifying conditions is quite short. On almost all qualifying conditions lists, though, you can find conditions such as cancer, wasting syndrome, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, ALS, PTSD, and more. Let’s take a closer look at the research surrounding how some of the most common qualifying conditions that may be benefited by medical cannabis.
Can Medical Cannabis Help Cancer Patients?
Cancer comes in many forms and one of the most common treatments is chemotherapy which comes with its own unique set of symptoms and side effects. Substantial research has shown that compounds from cannabis offer great potential in helping with a variety of these cancer and cancer treatment-related issues. From nausea and lack of appetite to anxiety and depression, which are all suffered by the majority of cancer patients’ medical cannabis offers many potential benefits. Additionally, research suggests that cannabis offers anti-neoplastic properties, which means they have the ability to help reduce or completely eliminate the growth of cancerous tumors. Supporting research also suggests that when cannabis is used in combination with traditional cancer treatments, it may be beneficial in helping them both to work better for the patient.
When cancer is present, it has the ability to override programmed cell death, which is also known as apoptosis. Medical cannabis’s ability to override this aspect of cancer means that it may be able to slow cancer cell growth or even prevent them from spreading. Research has shown that the activation of the endocannabinoid system through phytocannabinoids can cause cancer cell death in pancreatic cancer, cancer originating in liver cells, glioma brain or spinal tumors, as well as melanoma. So not only could cannabis be used as a complementary medicine to traditional cancer treatments as well as an effective option for the side effects that come with them, but it also may, in some cases, be able to stop cancer in its tracks. As you can see, there are many ways in which patients with cancer could highly benefit from the use of medical cannabis.
Can Cannabis Help Multiple Sclerosis Patients?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the communication between the body and brain is disrupted due to nerve damage leading to a malfunction in many vital aspects of our anatomy. It is estimated that nearly 1 million individuals within the United States alone live with multiple sclerosis. Those with multiple sclerosis experience numbness and tingling in their face and extremities, muscle stiffness, weakness, imbalance, vertigo, pain, and spasticity, among other symptoms.
Research surrounding cannabis for multiple sclerosis patients offers great hope. A 2011 placebo-controlled study found that those consuming a cannabis extract compared to a placebo saw improved spasticity. In 2012 neurologist Dr. John Peter Zajicek and his colleagues were able to replicate the same conclusions and noted that patients utilizing cannabis extract in comparison to placebo experienced more significant relief when it came to overall body pain and muscle stiffness as well as an increase in sleep quality. Cannabis has been proven time and time again to offer anti-inflammatory properties, and many of the problematic symptoms experienced by MS patients are caused by underlying inflammation-related issues. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the research helping to validate medical cannabis as a viable treatment option for multiple sclerosis.
Is Medical Marijuana Good for Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition characterized by nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts about traumatic events, flashbacks, severe anxiety, depression, and more. Those with PTSD often experience detachment from reality, may suffer from invasive memories of traumatic events they have experienced, and commonly lose interest in daily activities amongst their intense feelings of distress. It is estimated that nearly 4% of the US adult population has PTSD. Statistics, however, surrounding veterans and PTSD are much higher. The US Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that roughly 11 to 20% of veterans who served in operations Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom receive a PTSD diagnosis each year. In a 2019 study published in the Journal Of Psychopharmacology, researchers looked at the relationship between cannabis consumption and how it modifies the association between severe depressive episodes and suicidal ideation in those with PTSD. That study concluded that there was substantial “preliminary epidemiological evidence that cannabis use may contribute to reducing the association between PTSD and severe depressive and suicidal states.”
According to the VFW website, in a placebo control double-blind study published in March of 2021, it was found that when cannabinoid therapies were introduced into treatment regimens of veterans with PTSD that “over the course of a year, the study found that cannabis users reported a greater decrease in the severity of their PTSD symptoms.” Not only did these individuals experience a significant decrease in the severity they were also two and a half times more likely to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for a PTSD diagnosis in comparison to those that had not utilized cannabis the year prior.
Not only does the research point to medical cannabis offering significant benefits for PTSD patients, but many veterans have opened up about their stories and the success that they have seen as well through first-hand use of medical cannabis.
It goes almost without mentioning that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what medical cannabis is proving it has the efficacy to do. There is substantial research supporting its use as a therapeutic treatment for many other common qualifying conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, intractable pain, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, neuropathy, and much more. If you live in a state that has an operational medical cannabis program, schedule your appointment today to get your doctor’s recommendation and be on your way to obtaining your medical marijuana card.
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