Smoking weed can help treat many different medical conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health, marijuana, or cannabis, has been used to treat ailments for at least 3,000 years. Today, people use marijuana to lessen the symptoms of diseases such as depression, anxiety, epilepsy, cancer and more. Read on to learn more about the medicinal effects of smoking weed.
Medicinal Effects of Smoking Weed
Medical marijuana contains active chemicals called cannabinoids, which mimic chemicals naturally made by the body that are involved in appetite, memory, movement, and pain. As a result, marijuana can be used to treat a variety of different symptoms and illnesses. Not only can marijuana be smoked, it can be vaporized, eaten, taken as a pill, or taken as liquid drops.
What Medical Marijuana Can Treat
People smoke weed to help treat many different conditions. One of the most common reasons medical marijuana is used is for pain relief. One study found that cannabinoids work on the same area of the brain as other pain medications, making marijuana effective at relieving acute or chronic pain.
Another common medicinal use of smoking weed is to treat depression and anxiety. There are different strains of weed, and some are more effective at treating depression, while others are better for anxiety. Strains that are high in the chemical “limonene” are said to cause an elevation in mood, making it better for treating depression. On the other hand, marijuana with high amounts of CBD can help calm the nerves, which is better for treating anxiety.
Marijuana can also be beneficial to cancer patients, as it can ease some of the symptoms associated with chemotherapy. Evidence shows that cannabinoids are effective at preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. There have also been studies that suggest cannabinoids can help slow the growth of, or even kill, cancer cells, although research is still being done on this topic.
Many people have found relief of seizures through the medicinal effects of smoking weed. CBD, one of the substances found in weed, has been proven to reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy. One study found that children who received CBD went from having around 12 seizures per month to an average of 6 seizures in a month.
Kratom for Pain
Similar to weed, kratom is an herbal supplement traditionally used in Asia to help relieve pain. Kratom contains two alkaloid compounds called mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine that attach to opioid receptors in the brain, reducing the perception of pain. Recently,kratom for painhas gained popularity as an alternative to opioid pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone. It has been used to manage conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia by reducing chronic pain.
The Bottom Line
Marijuana has been used for thousands of years to help treat many different conditions. Today, weed has become a popular way to manage chronic pain, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, cancer, and more. Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any new treatments.
Cannabis is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of panic disorders, but someone looking for quick answers might have trouble sifting through the contradictions and misconceptions about marijuana left over from the U.S. War on Drugs. To fully understand those contradictions, the benefits of medical marijuana (MMJ), and how to navigate the myriad of treatment options, it may be best to first get on solid footing with the basics.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes: The Building Blocks of Weed
Different strains of marijuana are most commonly divided into three broad categories: sativa-dominant, indica-dominant, and hybrid. The first category originally referred to the speciesCannabis sativa, a variety of the marijuana plant now known simply as hemp. Hemp has no THC content but is high in CBD.
Similarly, “indica” referred to the psychotropic speciesCannabis indica, so called because it was discovered in India.
Today, all forms of the plant other than hemp are derived from the indica species, but the words sativa and indica are still used to differentiate between strains that give a cerebral, energetic “head” high and a relaxing, sedative-like “body” high, respectively.
While these categories are helpful in choosing strains for medicinal use, the truth is that all species of cannabis contain hundreds of cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) as well as terpenes.
Terpenes are a type of hydrocarbon produced by plants that are responsible for their strong aromas and some protective functions, and are the primary component in essential oils. They also have significant influence on the effects of a given strain of marijuana; for instance, linalool is relaxing while pinene is uplifting, and there are dozens more.
The Endocannabinoid System
The most well-known cannabinoids are TCH (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBD (cannabidiol), so most research into how marijuana affects the brain center on those two compounds. It turns out that humans (and other mammals) have an endocannabinoid (eCB) system that produces chemicals (called endocannabinoids) which mirror the functions of plant-produced, or phytocannabinoids.
When you ingest marijuana, those compounds bind to eCB receptors throughout the brain and body, of which there are at least two kinds, called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors exist mostly in the brain and central nervous system (CNS), while CB2 receptors are found more in peripheral immune cells and tissues.
Signaling from these receptors regulate mood, sleep, stress, heart function, CNS function, appetite and digestion, and immune function. It’s also thought that eCB systems play a major role in the “modulation of anxiety and depressive behaviors and emotional learning.” Marijuana could therefore be the ideal treatment for correcting imbalances in those areas, rather than commonly prescribed antidepressants and anxiolytics like benzodiazepines.
Cannabidiol activates the CB1 receptor, along with several outside the endocannabinoid system, including those regulating stress, arrhythmia, and perceived pain levels. Anextensive review of 49 current studiesconcluded that cannabidiol was an effective treatment for a range of disorders, including:
generalized anxiety disorder (GAD),
social anxiety disorder (SAD),
obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
with “no reported psychomotor slowing, negative mood effects, or vital sign abnormalities.”
When THC binds to cannabinoid receptors, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin, and inhibits the release of harmful stress hormones like norepinephrine, which floods the brain to cause fear and alertness during a panic attack. This benefits the neuroendocrine system by protecting against the damage of chronic stress.
Points of Contention
The complexity eCB systems and prevalent cultural misconceptions about marijuana have ledsome researchto conclude that “any benefit derived from THC with regard to mental health could result in symptom exacerbation when users are not under the influence of THC.”
However, it could easily be argued that the same is true for any prescription anxiolytic or antidepressant medication, which have far more dangerous withdrawal symptoms along with the risk of serotonin syndrome, which can cause suicidal ideation, seizures, coma, and death.
The chronic nature of mental health disorders is a simpler explanation for continued symptoms with long-term use. A diagnosis often means a lifetime of managing symptoms; most experts say a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy are needed for the best patient outcomes. In a country where black-market drugs and both legal and illegal marijuana are more readily available than well-rounded healthcare, it’s hardly surprising that users who self-medicate don’t always meet their mark.
Athree-year longitudinal studyfound no correlation between long-term MMJ use and recurring symptoms, or between “anxiety and later cannabis use onset,” once data were controlled for things like demographics, personality, and using other illicit drugs.
It is true that some strains may increase anxiousness, or make the user feel paranoid. Individual genetics, brain chemistry, and other drug use also play a role in effects and reactions, so there are patients for whom MMJ might not be an appropriate treatment. However, it’s important to note that in multiple studies, high doses of either THC or CBD were anxiogenic (anxiety-causing)in isolation.
Because of the complex roles of other cannabinoids and terpenes present in each species, research that reflects the way real patients use MMJ in their everyday lives may be a better predictor of the plant’s many benefits.
A research paper released last year byWashington State Universityfound strains high in both CBD (> 11%) and in THC (> 26.5%) had the greatest benefits for treating anxiety, and that there were no risks of increased symptoms or further diagnosis with long-term use.
An even more detailed study conducted byWhistler Therapeuticsdetermined the chemotypes of the most effective strains based on surveys of patients provided with MMJ from the same organically-grown source each time. Researchers identified 4 strains that patients reported as managing their symptoms best, and discovered that 3 of the 4 had significant similarities in chemotype, terpene profiles included.
For patients looking to treat GAD and similar disorders with something they can use as-neededordaily without experiencing debilitating withdrawal symptoms, marijuana,andCBD oil for anxietyhave been found safe, effective, and reliable even over long-term use. For the best results though, it’s good to know your body and medical history as well as possible. If you live in a legal state, bud tenders at any dispensary are trained and knowledgeable to help you out. If not, the resources above are a great jumping-off point.
CBD (otherwise known as Cannabidiol) is a compound that is found in the resinous flowers of cannabis. Historically, cannabis is more colloquially known as the drug marijuana. Cannabis is known for having many medicinal and therapeutic properties. CBD is known as a “phytocannabinoid,” and is known for its safe, non-addictive properties. CBD is continuously growing in its popularity throughout the United States, and it has patients as well as medical professionals intrigued. It is notoriously known for the fact that consumers can use it without having to worry about the marijuana high or “stoned” feeling that comes from cannabidiol’s phytocannabinoid counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This non-intoxicating compound is becoming known for being a multi-purpose molecule as more people begin to seek more natural medicinal solutions as an alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals. CBD has shown to assist greatly with providing relief for chronic pain symptoms.
Marijuana is becoming legal in more states across the country as researchers study the therapeutic effects that this compound has on a person’s endocannabinoid system. However, many employers will not support the usage of marijuana due to the psychoactive compounds found in THC.
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a compound found in marijuana that is responsible for creating the feeling of being high. Its chemical composition is very similar to cannabidiol, yet they both have produce different reactions within the human body. Although THC offers many tremendous medicinal benefits, its mind-altering abilities are not a desired outcome from a therapeutic standpoint. Both tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are known for causing pain relief in pain sufferers.
What are the differences between these two strains of phytocannabinoids?
Tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are two of eighty-five known strains of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids react with the bodies endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors found all throughout the body. Scientists have discovered that there are two receptors in the body, classified as CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and are responsible for mental and cognitive processes. CB2 receptors are found throughout the immune system and the central nervous system. One of the more potent strains of phytocannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol, is known for providing some pain relief. However, tetrahydrocannabinol works by mimicking the effects of the neurotransmitters anandamide and 2-AG. These neurotransmitters modulate the bodies perception of pain and consuming tetrahydrocannabinol can help provide some pain relief.
How do these two strains of phytocannabinoids help with pain relief?
The endocannabinoid system plays such a critical role in the ways in which the human body processes pain. However, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol do not bond to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same manner and therefore, have a different type of reaction on the body. Tetrahydrocannabinol bonds directly with the CB1 receptors, creating a direct signal to the brain, leading tetrahydrocannabinol to act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the treatment of pain. Although tetrahydrocannabinol is therapeutically beneficial for pain relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties, users often have an issue with the “stoned” feeling that accompanies its usage. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, does not directly bind to the CB1 receptors. Cannabidiol works to block inflammatory mediators and generate glycine receptors, which assists in regulating pain without the side-effects of feeling high.
Kratom, which is better known as mitragyna speciosa, is a plant that is known for relief of pain, mood enhancement capabilities, increasing focus and energy, as well as an uplifting effect. The alkaloids in Kratom produce a mild opioid-like effect without having any of the addictive properties. Kraton acts as pain reliever by releasing enkephalins and endorphins which numb the body’s pain receptors.