Studies show that THC activates pathways in the central nervous system which work to block pain signals from being sent to the brain. Likewise, cannabis has been shown to be especially effective against neuropathic pain, or nerve-related pain. Next time you go for an Advil, try a small puff and see how that helps instead.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another common reason to use medical marijuana. Interestingly, the high from THC is also associated with temporary impairments of memory.
While this may be seen as a drawback for some marijuana users, impaired memory is often therapeutic for those who struggle to forget painful memories, such as patients who suffer from PTSD. Recent studies confirm that oral doses of THC can help relieve a variety of PTSD-related symptoms including flashbacks, agitation and nightmares.
THC has been available in pill form for treating nausea and vomiting in cancer patients since the 1980s.
Marinol, a pill containing synthetic THC, was the first THC-based medication to be approved by the FDA for this purpose. Since then, other THC pills have been developed and prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy, including a pill called Cesamet.
Along with its ability to reduce nausea, THC is known to work as a powerful appetite stimulant in both healthy and sick individuals. Similarly, Marinol and Cesamet are regularly prescribed to boost appetite in patients with cancer and HIV-associated wasting syndrome.
A number of studies conducted with Marinol suggest that THC can also stimulate weight gain in anorexia.
Treating asthma may not seem like an obvious use for medical marijuana. But as it turns out, THC’s ability to improve breathing in asthmatics is supported by research dating back to the 1970s.
Following trials that showed smoking marijuana could help calm asthma attacks, scientists tried (and failed) to develop an inhaler that could deliver THC. While the THC inhaler idea was ultimately abandoned, some say modern-day vaporizers might be the solution.
Another benefit of THC recognized early on was its potential to relieve eye pressure in patients with glaucoma.
Likewise, after studies in the 1970s showed that smoking marijuana could reduce symptoms in glaucoma sufferers, scientists tried (and failed again) to develop a way to administer THC in eye drops. The idea proved too complicated due to the fact that THC is not soluble in water.
While some glaucoma patients rely on medical marijuana to this day, The American Glaucoma Society maintains the position that its effects are too short-lived (lasting 3-4 hours) to be considered a viable treatment option.
Many are aware of the sleep-inducing effect of marijuana, and research shows that THC is largely responsible. In fact, trials conducted in the 1970s found that oral doses of THC helped both healthy individuals and insomniacs fall asleep faster.
Interestingly, more recent studies suggest THC may also improve nighttime breathing and reduce sleep interruptions in those who suffer from a common disorder known as sleep apnea. Researchers are currently working to develop a THC-based medicine for treating the condition.
Dravet syndrome, also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), is a form of intractable, life-threatening epilepsy in which a child can suffer upwards of 100 seizures a day.
Dr. Mercola explains, “Certain varieties of cannabis offer the only real hope for children with this type of disorder, as Dravet syndrome does not respond well to standard epilepsy drugs. Twenty to 30 percent of children with Dravet experience a significant reduction in seizures within days or weeks of using high-CBD, low-THC cannabis, with virtually no adverse effects. So for some, legalized marijuana is just one more option for entertainment, but others feel like it’s the difference between life and death.”
Over the past several years, dozens of studies point to marijuana’s effectiveness against many different types of cancer, including brain cancer, breast and prostate, lung, thyroid, colon, pituitary, melanoma, and leukemia. It fights cancer via at least two mechanisms, making it difficult for a cancer to grow and spread:
Cannabis is pro-apoptotic, meaning it triggers apoptosis (cellular suicide) of cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells untouched
Cannabis is anti-angiogenic, meaning it cuts off a tumor’s blood supply
For more on cannabis and cancer, read our more in depth article, 20 Medical Studies That Show Cannabis Can Be A Potential Cure For Cancer.