To date, more than half of all states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical uses. As research-based evidence shows, medical marijuana is beneficial for helping with a wide range of medical conditions. From improving quality of life for patients with cancer and neurological conditions to helping individuals overcome eating disorders, we know that medical marijuana has far-reaching benefits.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana refers to the use of the marijuana plant or its extracts to alleviate symptoms associated with certain illnesses and injuries. The marijuana plant is comprised of over 100 chemicals called cannabinoids. Although they are grouped under the same name, cannabinoids have different effects. Of the chemicals extracted from the marijuana plant, two of the most common are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, which is short for cannabidiol. While THC produces a euphoric feeling, CBD is adept at relieving pain. Sometimes these chemicals are used independently, but they can also be used together to control symptoms and maximize pain relief.

Benefits of Medical Marijuana

So far medical marijuana has been used as a treatment method for the following health conditions:

Medical Marijuana

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries can be debilitating. Trauma to the spine can cause partial or full loss of mobility in certain parts of the body. It can also affect a person's motor skills and movements. Using medical marijuana as part of a treatment plan, research shows, can relax affected muscles. This reduces the number of muscle spasms that an individual has. Medical marijuana also relieves pain.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex disease that targets the spinal cord and/or the brain. Associated symptoms include balance problems, tingling sensations, vision problems, muscle spasms, and pain. Cannabis-based treatment, however, has been shown to reduce pain and muscles spams associated with the disease.

Cancer

Cancer patients have reported relief from pain and symptoms after adding medical marijuana to their treatment plans. Although medical marijuana cannot cure cancer, it can provide relief from pain, anxiety, and weight loss. It can also control nausea associated with chemotherapy and other treatments.

Chron's Disease

Chron's disease is a chronic intestinal disease that can cause chronic diarrhea, pain, and weight loss. In preliminary studies, patients prescribed medical marijuana as part of their treatment plans reported less pain than those who did not receive cannabis. The positive benefits were reported for ulcerative colitis, too.

Mental health problems

Treatment for certain mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression, is another area that has benefited from cannabis. Results from patient studies have shown that incorporating medical marijuana into a treatment plan can reduce anxiety levels and make patients feel happier. Since medical marijuana has few reported side effects, it is considered promising for mental health treatments.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy, which is a neurological condition characterized by seizures, affects over 100,000 North Americans. The symptoms of epilepsy range from mild to severe. So far, medicines with cannabis have reportedly reduced the number and severity of seizures in epilepsy patients. Currently, however, medical marijuana is primarily reserved for the most complex cases.

Eating disorders

Patients with eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia have also reported relief from using medical marijuana. Patients who have used cannabis as part of a treatment plan report less anxiety and a stronger desire to eat, as marijuana is commonly associated with stimulating the appetite. In some states, medical marijuana is reserved for severe weight loss caused by other conditions, such as cancer.

Arthritis

Arthritis, which is an umbrella term for one of several diseases, is characterized by joint inflammation. Today, there are more than 100 known types of arthritis. While the diseases are all different, they share some symptoms in common. This includes joint stiffness, loss of mobility, and swelling around the affected joint. Studies have shown that patients who use medical marijuana to manage their symptoms reported lower pain levels than those who did not.

HIV/AIDS

Over the past few decades, we know that treatment for HIV/AIDS has dramatically improved. However, as with many things, it can still get better. While patients with HIV/AIDS can generally look forward to a better quality of life now, many are still adversely affected by the side effects of their medications, as well as symptoms associated with the disease itself. When treated with supplemental cannabis, almost all patients (97 percent) reported an increase in appetite. Over 90 reported reduced muscle pain, nausea, and anxiety.

Insomnia

Sometimes, we all have trouble getting a good night's sleep. But for people with chronic sleep problems, such as insomnia, the constant inability to get quality rest takes a toll on daily life. Reduced work performance, difficulty concentrating in school, and general fatigue during the day are all problems associated with insomnia. While we know that more research is needed into treatments and therapies, medical marijuana has shown promise in alleviating symptoms. This is because marijuana is believed to cause chemical changes in the brain that induce drowsiness, and therefore enable a good night's sleep.

Chronic Pain

Regardless of its source, chronic pain is an issue for millions of Americans. Medical marijuana, however, has proven to be effective in minimizing pain levels. Since the 1800s, people have used cannabis for pain relief. It was not until recently, however, that the positive effects of marijuana as a pain reliever were researched and documented. Some pain-relieving medications are now legal in certain places, such as Canada and Europe. Regardless of the source of their pain, about 30 percent of individuals with chronic pain have reported relief after using medical marijuana.

From eating disorders to cancer and HIV/AIDS, we know medical marijuana is proving more and more effective in alleviating pain and symptoms associated with serious illnesses and injuries. Scientific research is in the preliminary stage, but there is no doubt that future research and patient feedback will continue shedding positive light on the benefits of cannabis across the medical field.