Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused drugs prepared from the plant Cannabis sativa (common name, cannabis). Though marijuana is often considered as an illicit drug, in which, the users tend to get addicted, it is also known for offering several health benefits. Medical researches have been done extensively on the dosage and effects of this drug. Marijuana used for the treatment of different medical conditions under the prescription of a qualified physician, is referred to as medical marijuana. Traditionally, the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes is evident from the cultures of various countries. In China, it has been in use since 4000 years ago.
Medical Uses and Benefits
The medicinally important compounds present in medical marijuana are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and β-caryophyllene. CBD, a neuroprotective antioxidant, accounts to about 40 percent of the plant extract. It can be effectively used for the treatment of inflammation, anxiety, nausea, convulsion, schizophrenia, and cancer. On the other hand, β-caryophyllene limits the inflammatory responses of the body. Popular methods of administering this drug are smoking dried herbal form, inhalation therapy, herbal therapy, drinking plant extracts, and administering dietary supplements as pills.
One of the unavoidable side effects of chemotherapy drugs, used to treat cancer, is killing of healthy cells. Hence, following the chemotherapy treatments, the patient may experience various adverse effects, like, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and loss of control over the body. Medical cannabis is an effective natural antiemetic, which helps in overcoming nausea, thereby allowing the patient to enjoy meals. The drug is administered by smoking rather than taking orally.
For Lung Cancer
THC, an active ingredient of the drug, reduces the growth of cancerous cells in the lungs. As per studies conducted on medical marijuana smokers, it is opined that smoking the drug does not increase the chances of developing lung cancer. Thus, many researchers suggest it to be a potential herbal therapy for the treatment of lung cancer.
For Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system and spinal cord. Its symptoms include, numbness, tingling, fatigue, loss of coordination, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking, eye problems, and depression. Till now, there have been no effective treatment options for multiple sclerosis. Conventional treatment options are temporary, causing severe adverse effects. According to studies, cannabis is effective to manage the symptoms, like, muscle spasms and tremors. It helps in restoring eyesight, balance, speech, and bladder movement.
Glaucoma is a vision problem caused due to the damage to optic nerves. It can lead to permanent loss of vision (blindness). Conventional medications for glaucoma can lead to various side effects. A recent study on medical cannabis reveals the potential benefits in lowering the intraocular pressures without any adverse effects. More clinical trials are required to prove the effectiveness of this drug in treating glaucoma.
Long-term abuse of this drug can lead to addiction. The dried herbal marijuana is greenish-brown in color. It contains a mixture of leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds of the cannabis plant. The concentrated forms of this drug are hashish and hash oil; the former is obtained from the resins of the cannabis plant, whereas the latter is derived by using various solvents. The drug is consumed by igniting the herbal form and inhaling its smoke.
There are several ways of smoking marijuana. One of the common methods is emptying a cigarette (blunt), and refilling it with marijuana. The resulting smoke is a combination of nicotine and THC. Some people prefer consuming this drug orally by mixing it with food or brewing as tea. Abusing the drug affects the learning ability, causes memory loss, and disrupts cognitive and social behavior.