Medical cannabis is any number of things, to be frank. It essentially is cannabis or its components that is used to treat or prevent a medical condition. It can contain one or more of the cannabinoids, like THC (which is the molecule responsible for the euphoric effect of marijuana) and cannabidiol (or CBD) which has been demonstrated to have a large number of beneficial health effects. It can come as a dried plant, a wax, an oil. It may be smoked, inhaled, included in an edible product, or included in a cream, lotion or other suspension. It is legal in Canada and in 29 of the 50 states in the United States and several other countries.
How is Medical Cannabis Different from Regular Cannabis?
There often is no difference at all except that medical cannabis has been prescribed or recommended to treat a medical condition and, in most cases, has been legalized for that specific purpose or for research. Cannabis may or may not be legalized for other purposes.
Is Medical Cannabis Safer than Cannabis?
Not necessarily. Incorrect labelling has been a problem in the industry and contaminants may be present in medical cannabis just as they can with any other form. Cannabis used in research is usually cultivated under strict conditions but even that is not always foolproof. You should be careful to do your research before deciding on a supplier if you have received a prescription for medical cannabis. Other than mislabeling and contaminants though, medical cannabis has been found to be safe in CBD form. A large number of studies that looked directly at the safety and efficacy of CBD have found that it is very safe to use, has little to side effects, and can be used in lower and higher doses in a variety of ways for a variety of conditions without negative effect.
Medical Cannabis and Prevention
Medical cannabis can be used to treat a number of serious medical conditions including epilepsy, MS, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, insomnia, substance abuse, mental health disorders and hypertension. Its uses in these conditions vary and may include THC, CBD or both.
Medical cannabis resources may also be useful in preventing disease or treating and controlling some conditions before they can give rise to further complications. Cannabis as a preventative agent has been used for hundreds of years but has recently received the attention and study of medical researchers, particularly after it was anecdotally connected to improvement in children who suffered otherwise resistant to treatment epileptic conditions.
What can medical cannabis resources be used for in terms of prevention?
Medical cannabis resources have commonly been directed at the treatment of chronic pain. It can prevent the pain of a significant number of pain conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, the pain associated with MS, muscle cramps, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, and endometriosis. It is clearly safer than opiate use for chronic pain and it is does not have the sedation effect of options like Neurontin and Lyrica.
Nausea and Appetite Stimulation
Nausea can be disorienting and dangerous when it’s related to some conditions, medications or treatments like chemotherapy. The control of nausea can prevent ensure that an individual is obtaining nutrition, increases their sense of well-being and may allow increased activity, all of which have significant health benefits on their own. It can also stimulate appetite in those who suffer from a reduced appetite for any number of reasons. Preventing malnutrition and dehydration prevent a whole host of dangerous and even life-threatening complications.
Anxiety and Depression Prevention
CBD in particular has shown to be very effective in treating those with PTSD, other anxiety disorders and depression. Effective treatment of depression and PTSD comes with a reduced risk of self-harm and suicide and allows patients to return to a more normal, mentally healthier life. Anxiety disorders and depression are also linked with other disorders like heart disease and hypertension. So treating these conditions can have a preventative effect on serious cardiac illnesses.
Preventing seizure is sometimes seen as the holy grail of epilepsy research. Preventing seizure means increasing the life span and quality of life of those patients who suffer seizure. Medical cannabis resources have been directed at this effort since reports that two children with treatment resistant forms of seizure disorders improved significantly after their parents treated them with cannabis. Since that time, it has been reported in anecdotal reports and case studies that CBD in particular has been effective for epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals is currently involved in testing the safety and efficacy of medical grade CBD for treating children with this condition. The future is certainly promising in this regard.
Other than the above, CBD also has neuroprotective effects (to protect the brain) and is being studied in the fight against cancer as an anti-tumor agent.