The increasing acceptance of medical marijuana as an adjunct or alternative treatment to some pharmaceuticals is evidenced by the growing number of states that have wholly or partially legalized cannabis. One of the reasons for this change in attitude is that many long-term studies have been and continue to be conducted on the efficacy of cannabis on different physical and mental conditions, and are now showing some of the therapeutic effects cannabis can have.
The chemical components of cannabis are called cannabinoids. They can activate certain receptors in the body to produce positive effects, especially on the central nervous system. Despite the fact that cannabis is not completely legal in the U.S, the benefits of using it for cancer-related side effects has been acknowledged with cannabinoids such as nabilone and dronabinol approved and commercially available.
Nausea and Vomiting
One well known side effect of chemotherapy treatment for cancer is nausea. Setting aside any jokes about the munchies (although it is a fact that some cannabis can make people hungry) , comparative studies have concluded that cannabinoids are more effective in treating nausea than conventional treatments like promethazine (sold as Phenergan) or metoclopramide (available OTC as Reglan). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_cannabis)
A 2011 review concluded that cannabis is safe to use for pain and may be very effective in pain stemming from neuropathy, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. A 2015 review further found that patients received short-term pain from neuropathy in approximately 20% of the participants in the study. Medical marijuana also appears to be a safer alternative to the use of potentially addictive opioids in treating pain.
The result of studies done on patients suffering from neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy have produced varying results but no one definitive answer. A combination of THC and CBD extracts shows signs of the ability to relieve the spasticity produced by such conditions, and the use of cannabis is considered an option if other treatments haven’t worked. Cannabis is approved for MS in ten countries. Over 100 families have relocated to Colorado in order to be legally able to buy a cannabis strain called “Charlotte’s Web,” which has dramatically reduced seizures in some children.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Concussions
Israeli researchers are exploring marijuana for the potential it has for treating brain injury, and Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, acknowledges that the league is watching the developments. The research is focused on the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties of cannabis.
Currently, there are studies being conducted worldwide to assess the effectiveness of cannabis on conditions like Tourette Syndrome, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, glaucoma, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.