In many quarters within the American political system, people are calling for the legalization of marijuana for medical use. Studies on marijuana and its active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, have yielded some contradictory results, but a sufficient number of cases have caused legislators to take a more benign view of this previously designated Schedule 1 illegal drug.
In 2013, the media covered a story of a 2-year-old stricken with Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe seizure disorder that can cause dozens of episodes each day. Attempts to treat the illness with traditional medications were inadequate and potentially dangerous for the child.
Medical marijuana was able to offer relief from the seizures without the toxic side effects of traditional pharmaceutical remedies. It is possible that it may be helpful for a number of seizure disorders that are not controlled by the usual anti-convulsive medications that are now available.
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory condition that affects the central nervous system of the body. The disease destroys the myelin, fatty tissue that surrounds nerve cells that help to transmit messages to the muscles of the body. MS produces a number of symptoms, including fatigue, muscle spasticity, numbers and other effects.
Some data show that marijuana may be helpful for other neurological problems. The cannabinoids in marijuana work much like a natural component made in the body called anandamide that helps muscles to function normally. Anecdotal evidence shows it may be used for patients with multiple sclerosis, helping to improve mobility overall for these patients.
Cancer and Cancer Pain
Marijuana has also been studied for its ability to manage cancer pain from nerve damage, inflammation, invasion of bone and involvement of other pain-sensitive structures of the body. The results appear to indicate it can be helpful for these patients, according to the National Cancer Institute. In addition to managing painful cancer symptoms, can also help with depression, anxiety and sleeplessness that often occurs in these patients.
These results are in addition to aiding in nausea management when other methods fail. Some studies also show that marijuana can also stop the growth of aggressive tumors in the brain, breast and prostate as well as other cancers. The compound responsible for this response is cannabidiol and not the THC that produces the “high” of marijuana.
Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Cannabis and cannabinoid extracts have been studied for their ability to control nausea and vomiting associated with cancer treatment. These substances have been found to be helpful for this use when traditional nausea medications fail to produce adequate relief. Marijuana also helps to stimulate appetite in patients who have lost their appetite because of the effects of treatment. This effect can help patients to better handle the debilitating effects of cancer treatment increasing the survival rate. Marijuana’s ability to stimulate appetite can also help patients with AIDS who suffer from the wasting away that is often common with the disease.
Fibromyalgia is an immune system disorder in which the body begins to attack itself, causing widespread pain, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety and other problems. It is difficult to diagnose and often equally difficult to treat effectively. Marijuana shows some promise in helping with the nerve pain symptoms, difficulty sleeping and anxiety that is common with the disease.