More and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical use, and Canada is fully open to both medical and recreational, but what can it really treat and how does it help?
First and foremost, it’s important to note, that many, many, people are opening their minds up to exploring the use of cannabis to add into their wellness protocols. Not only are people finding it beneficial in the aging population, but it is even being used with children to help with seizures, for example. There are so many wonderful benefits.
Marijuana may be a controversial health treatment, but like any drug it does have many positive benefits for those who really need it.
Marijuana contains a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that is the active ingredient. This is one of the major components that provides medical relief. It’s been used for many medical applications.
To be clear there are two distinctions when it comes to Cannabis:
- Cannabidiol (CBD).CBD has a number of health benefits, and is nonpsychoactive, meaning it doesn’t cause you to feel “high.” CBD is one of the 104 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid, is primarily responsible for the feeling that produces what people call a “high”
And if you are wondering the difference between the term marijuana and cannabis is, this might help. According to Health Canada spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau,
Cannabis is the preferred term because “the term cannabis includes more products than marijuana,” which Health Canada defines as “the dried flowers, leaves, stems and seeds of the cannabis plant.”
Marijuana or cannabis can be inhaled by smoking, but it can also be administered in many other ways such as through vapor, capsules, sprays, oils, and can be eaten or ingested.
One of the most popular currently is in the form of oil.
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach.
Now that you know some of the basics, let’s look at some of the applications for medical marijuana when it comes to your health.
One of the most common uses for marijuana is for the treatment of pain, specifically chronic pain. For example, people who have chronic pain from illnesses such as fibromyalgia or arthritis may find some relief using marijuana. This drug is thought to be a little safer than some stronger narcotics on the market. Some of the roll-on products (similar to a deodorant stick) work well to roll over painful areas.
Glaucoma is an eye problem that causes too much pressure to build up inside the eye and leads to nerve damage. Many people have been prescribed medical marijuana to treat glaucoma.
It does this by reducing the pressure inside the eye to relieve the optic nerve. However, the benefit is very short – only about 4-6 hours. That means you have to smoke marijuana several times a day to really get the health benefit for your eyes. Because marijuana can affect your ability to drive and work this is often not the best solution. Another option would be edibles and oils. They do take a little longer to work, usually around 60 minutes but the effects last longer. Many people find that it’s about trying and testing to see what is best for them in a case by case basis.
New research suggests that marijuana may be a helpful treatment for type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that smoking marijuana regularly may actually cause a decrease in insulin levels and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
More research needs to be done to confirm the link between marijuana and type 2 diabetes, but the evidence suggests that this could be a promising solution for some people who suffer from obesity and high insulin levels along with insulin resistance.
Better sleep is probably one of the best perks of using cannabis. As people age, many struggle with getting a good night’s sleep or a restful, healing and rejuvenating sleep. Many in the medical marijuana community refer to cannabis as an effective treatment, with little to no side effects, for a range of sleeping disorders, which is very good news as so many people suffer from insomnia or sleep issues, as is very common in aging populations.
“Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” says Dr. Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician.
These are common health conditions that may be improved by marijuana use and there are many others that are being researched and tried each day. Medical marijuana may be a healthy alternative to some other medications that have greater side effects and less efficacy.
If you are in an area where medical marijuana is available, you may wish to start the conversation with your health care provider. Something to keep in mind, is that because this is very new for some, even medical professionals, the knowledge base and receptivity is varied. Ultimately, I would suggest you do some of your own research to make an informed decision that you can be confident in when pursuing the use of medical cannabis for your wellness protocol and to help with your healthy aging plan!
Maggie Holbik is a Board Certified Nutritionist and Certified Life Coach who works at keeping up with the latest trends in health and wellness, so that she can better support and assist her clients on their journeys to wellness.