The list of diseases and conditions that are effectively treated–and sometimes cured–by cannabis is ever growing. The stigma resulting from uninformed propaganda is beginning to clear and science and the medical profession are discovering the incredible power of this medicinal plant.
The effective ingredient in cannabis (of which there are many different varieties) is a compound called a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids work by affecting certain receptors in cells in the body called endocannabinoids. Not all cannabinoids are psychoactive and of those that are, there are varying degrees. Of all the studies performed on cannabis, none have shown any detrimental effects other than perhaps a dry mouth.
Drug Enforcement Administration Judge Francis L. Young made this statement after a two-year hearing on cannabis in 1998:
“Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality…In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”
Below are five conditions that are more effectively treated with cannabis than pharmaceuticals.
1. ADHD/ADD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Attention Deficit Disorder)
Standard treatment for this condition is a prescription of Ritalin, a stimulant. The side effects of this drug include diarrhea, headaches, psychosis, difficulty sleeping, and stomach aches. Statistics are emerging that show that an increasing number of children are dying from long-term Ritalin use. This and other drugs like it change in every way the children who take them. Not the least of these effects are mood swings and violence.
Dr. David Bearman, a cannabis researcher, said this about using cannabis for treating ADHD:
“Cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine. This then has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action than stimulants like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and dexedrine amphetamine, which act by binding to the dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine.”
It’ll sure help with the hyperactivity part–chill, kid.
2. The Big C
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a chemical in the body responsible for blood vessel growth in tumors. When the ceramide in cannabis comes into contact with VEGF, the cancerous cells die, leaving healthy cells alone.
People suffering from epilepsy are prescribed anti-epileptic drugs. That’s it. Done as a matter of course. These drugs can have serious side effects including depression, psychosis, coma, and death. Cannabinoids are anticonvulsant with no adverse effects. From one study:
“…the cannabimimetic…completely abolished spontaneous epileptic seizures…These data indicate not only anticonvulsant activity of exogenously applied cannabinoids but also suggest that endogenous cannabinoid tone modulates seizure termination and duration through activation of the CB1 [cannabinoid] receptor…By demonstrating a role for the endogenous cannabinoid system in regulating seizure activity, these studies define a role for the endogenous cannabinoid system in modulating neuroexcitation and suggest that plasticity of the CB1 receptor occurs with epilepsy.”
One of the newest and least understood conditions becoming more prevalent in North America, fibromyalgia is a rheumatoid condition but is not classified as an autoimmune disease.
The National Pain Foundation reports that ninety-five percent of those who use marijuana for pain of fibromyalgia found it effective–sixty-two percent of those found it VERY effective. Compare this with drugs Duloxetine, Pregabalin, and Milnacipran that the vast majority found ineffective–on average, sixty-five percent of the 1300 people who were surveyed said these do “not help at all”.
Cannabis has been used to treat pain for millennia. In modern society, it has been shown effective for glaucoma, cancer, HIV, neuropathy, and many other types of chronic pain.
5. Multiple Sclerosis
In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Safety Announcement regarding the popular drug used for multiple sclerosis (MS), Gilenya:
“(FDA) is alerting the public that a patient in Europe diagnosed with possible multiple sclerosis (MS) has developed a rare and serious brain infection after taking the drug Gilenya (fingolimod). This is the first case of this disease, called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy or PML, reported following the administration of Gilenya to a patient who had not previously received Tysabri (natalizumab), an MS drug associated with a higher risk of PML…PML is a rare and serious brain infection caused by the John Cunningham (JC) virus that damages the fatty covering of the brain called myelin. Myelin is essential for the proper functioning of nerves in the white matter of the brain. PML usually causes death or severe disability. The JC virus is a common virus that is harmless in most people but can cause PML in people who have weakened immune systems. Some medications, including Gilenya, can weaken the immune system.”
The way this and similar MS drugs work is by blocking certain white blood cells that manifest as MS when they attack nerves. Because white blood cells are responsible for immune response at the cellular level, they become compromised when these drugs are ingested, opening the way for infection.
Studies of the effects of cannabis on people with MS have had mixed results. Cannabis does not seem to cure the condition but it sure does relieve the pain–without brain infection. In another study, cannabinoids were found to be protective of the spinal cord and to evoke anti-inflammatory response.
The more cannabis is studied, the more apparent its versatility becomes.