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The Potential Benefits of Marijuana

by Julia McCartney on June 14, 2012

The use of medicinal marijuana is often parodied in popular culture, news cycles and political circuits. South Park forgot to mention, however, that medicinal marijuana is a potent deterrent against serious, progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. While the movement to establish its legality is largely lead by a category of well-intentioned but uninformed “recreational” users, researchers at the Center for Medical Cannabis Research and other prestigious institutions are starting to add more substantial fuel to the fire.

According to the growing number of medicinal marijuana studies, cannabis mimics a potent anti-oxidant to reduce stress on the brain, preserve neurotransmitters, and facilitate healthy aging. Critical thinkers and the opposition can’t help but ask, however: Is the campaign for cannabis a well-orchestrated hoax or a truly philanthropic effort in medical science? The following findings will expose it as the latter.

Research Findings

The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research has published a wealth of findings on the efficacy of marijuana as a disease-preventing agent. In “Cannabis for Treatment of HIV-Related Peripheral Neuropathy,” the CMCR illustrated one of the most widespread applications of medicinal marijuana: pain management. Subjects who received medicinal marijuana, as opposed to those who received placebos, reported less “experimentally-induced pain.” For those already undergoing harsh radiation and chemotherapy treatments, marijuana has a dual benefit. In addition to pain management, seasoned users will attest to the “munchies,” or increased appetite, that sets in after just one use. This provides a safe, invaluable advantage to these radiation patients, who often find it difficult to eat due to nausea.

Additionally, researchers for NORML.org, an organization that uses empirical evidence to support the legalization of marijuana, have cited the use of cannabis to address autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. The Chinese have used cannabis for this purpose since before their millenia-old history was written. Unable to deny the dynamism of marijuana in treating serious diseases any longer, the American Medical Association called for more clinical research, implying that the herb may soon develop a much stronger presence in modern pharmacology.

THC and CBD

So what are the specific ingredients in marijuana, and how do they reap such positive effects for all kinds of patients? Possibly the most helpful among these ingredients is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. As most people are aware, THC decreases nausea, acting as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients and others suffering from nausea. But THC has also been exposed as an effective mood-improving ingredient. Alzheimer patients in a study featured on The Cannabis Medical Organization‘s website demonstrated less troubled behavior after receiving THC extracts.

Medical researchers now know that tetrahydrocannabinol decreases pressure in the eyes due to fluid buildup, which may be the cause of the improved behavior that mentally suffering patients experience. In the long term, THC helps to delay or even halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by preserving acetylcholine, one of the body’s most important neurotransmitters. With the degradation of acetylcholine, a major player in the reception and execution of muscular and sensory impulses from the brain, comes disease and dysfunction.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, the next active ingredient in marijuana, has similarly vast applications in brain and neuron preservation. CBD acts as an anti-psychotic, which renders it an effective supplement option for schizophrenia sufferers. It also slows the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.

CBD interferes with THC absorption in the liver, which helps to counteract THC’s sedative effects and bring out the anti-oxidant benefits of both ingredients. When paired, the two ingredients protect nerves from the oxidative stress experienced by aging people. This is the combination that so accurately targets two of the most elusive boons of medical science: Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.

More Medical Applications

In addition to treating Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, medical marijuana helps cure anorexia, Tourette’s, dystonia, MS, glaucoma, epilepsy, and a large number of yet undefined psychiatric abnormalities. The Cannabis Medical Organization has also unveiled marijuana’s potential as an anti-inflammatory medication. This was determined in light of the subjective accounts of cannabis test subjects suffering from inflammatory diseases, who reported a decreased need for NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

While the neuro-chemical origins of this effect remain unclear, marijuana has been reported to relieve spasms. People who suffer from hiccups, restless leg syndrome, epilepsy, and other neuro-muscular conditions have experienced a severe reduction or even a complete elimination of their symptoms. Other less-known applications of marijuana that are drawing more attention in medical science include pruritus, attention deficit disorder, and high blood pressure treatments.

Illegality

With virtually no exceptions, marijuana is still only legal for medical use. While hopeful conspiracy theorists claim that big tobacco is ready to mobilize marijuana with already completed packaging, slogans, and product, they will have to stow their pipes until further notice or meet consequence. As the topic becomes more popular and more sensitive, states are beginning to modify legislation to lessen penalties for marijuana possession and use, which pacifies eager medical scientists and keeps prisons from filling up too quickly. As it stands currently, up to 24 ounces of marijuana from up to fifteen different plants can be used for medical purposes in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. Each state differs in how many ounces can be used and what citizenship status, medical conditions, and residency are required.

To support safe and effective herbology over the pharmacological Frankensteins that are beginning to emerge, conscientious Americans can research the potential benefits of marijuana and publicly support their position. Having never claimed a life directly from an overdose, marijuana could be the safest, most effective medicine available for the world’s future generations.

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