The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years, but research into its potential health benefits has been stymied by decades of prohibition. This has limited our understanding of the plant’s full potential. Despite these challenges, we are now beginning to uncover the many potential health benefits of cannabis. Here are ten ways in which it could improve our health and well-being.
- Pain Relief
- Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids that can reduce pain and inflammation by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
- A study found that using cannabis resulted in a 27% reduction in pain intensity for people with chronic pain (Boehnke et al., 2019).
- Anxiety Reduction
- CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects in both animals and humans (Blessing et al., 2015).
- However, it’s important to note that THC, another compound found in cannabis, can increase anxiety in some people.
- Sleep Aid
- Cannabis may help with sleep by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and improving the overall quality of sleep.
- A review of the literature found that cannabis use was associated with improved sleep in people with chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions (Babson et al., 2017).
- Seizure Management
- CBD has been shown to be effective in managing seizures in people with certain types of epilepsy.
- In one study, CBD reduced the frequency of seizures by 50% or more in 43% of patients with the Dravet syndrome (Devinsky et al., 2016).
- Nausea and Vomiting Reduction
- THC can reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy (Parker et al., 2011; Rock et al., 2013).
- Cannabis may offer neuroprotective effects, meaning it could help protect the brain from damage or injury.
- Animal studies have shown that cannabinoids can reduce brain damage and improve neurological function after a traumatic brain injury (Mechoulam & Parker, 2013).
- Cancer Management
- Cannabis may have potential benefits for cancer patients, including reducing pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy and radiation, as well as potentially having anti-cancer properties.
- Early studies suggest that cannabinoids may inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer cells (Guzmán, 2003).
- Anti-inflammatory Effects
- Cannabis may have anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial for conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Studies have shown that cannabinoids can reduce inflammation and improve symptoms in animal models of these conditions (Russo, 2008).
- Glaucoma Treatment
- Early studies suggest that cannabis may help reduce intraocular pressure, which could be beneficial for people with glaucoma (Tomida et al., 2004).
- Addiction Management
- CBD may help reduce cue-induced cravings and anxiety in people with heroin use disorder (Hurd et al., 2019).
- While some people may associate cannabis with addiction, research suggests that it may actually help manage addiction to other substances.
In addition to these potential benefits, cannabis may also offer other advantages, such as anti-inflammatory effects and improved digestion. However, it’s important to note that cannabis can have side effects, such as impaired memory and increased heart rate, and may interact with other medications. It’s essential to talk to a healthcare provider before using cannabis for any medical purpose.
In conclusion, cannabis has the potential to offer a range of health benefits, from pain relief to neuroprotection. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects, the existing evidence suggests that cannabis may be a useful tool in managing certain conditions and promoting overall wellbeing.
- Boehnke, K. F., Scott, J. R., Litinas, E., & Sisley, S. (2019). The Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: An Update From the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Report. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 49, 7-11.
- Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836.
- Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., & Morabito, D. (2017). Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature. Current Psychiatry Reports, 19(4), 23.
- Devinsky, O., Cross, J. H., Laux, L., Marsh, E., Miller, I., Nabbout, R., … & Wright, S. (2016). Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(21), 2011-2020.
- Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of Nausea and Vomiting by Cannabinoids. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1411-1422.
- Rock, E. M., Parker, L. A., & Limebeer, C. L. (2013). Cannabinoids and Nausea: Preclinical and Human Evidence for Medicinal Cannabis. International Review of Psychiatry, 25(3), 262-270.
- Mechoulam, R., & Parker, L. A. (2013). The Endocannabinoid System and the Brain. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 21-47.
- Guzmán, M. (2003). Cannabinoids: Potential Anticancer Agents. Nature Reviews Cancer, 3(10), 745-755.
- Russo, E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the Management of Difficult to Treat Pain. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 4(1), 245-259.
- Tomida, I., Azuara-Blanco, A., House, H., Flint, M., Pertwee, R. G., & Robson, P. J. (2006). Effect of Sublingual Application of Cannabinoids on Intraocular Pressure: a Pilot Study. Journal of Glaucoma, 15(5), 349-353.
- Hurd, Y. L., Yoon, M., Manini, A. F., Hernandez, S., Olmedo, R., Ostman, M., & Jutras-Aswad, D. (2019). Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage. Neurotherapeutics, 16(3), 807-812.