Medical marijuana has proven efficacy as a treatment for chronic pain in cancer, migraine, inflammation, and as an adjunct to psychiatric treatment. What are the indications for the use of medical marijuana? What diseases is it prescribed for? What does medical marijuana therapy look like?
Medical marijuana for pain
Medical marijuana has become famous primarily for its pain-relieving properties. It is considered one of the most effective treatments for chronic pain, that is, pain lasting longer than 3 months. Marijuana owes its analgesic effects to the cannabinoids THC and CBD. They affect the CB1 and CB2 receptors located in the brain. The CB1 receptor is responsible for the sensation of pain, while CB2 can stimulate the immune system, thus fighting inflammation.
Thanks to this mechanism, cannabis helps with chronic pain conditions, and also combats pain associated with migraine, certain cancers and neuropathy. In the case of migraine, medical marijuana therapy not only relieves the acute headache, but also reduces associated discomforts such as nausea and vomiting. This, in turn, improves patients’ quality of life and minimizes the appearance of cases of depression among them.
THC and CBD have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Both substances cause a reduction in pain associated with infections.
It is worth mentioning that medical marijuana, as a natural painkiller, does not cause such side effects as standard painkillers. Therefore, using it for chronic pain is beneficial for the whole body.
Medical marijuana is especially recommended for cancer. Not only does it help relieve the accompanying pain, but it also strengthens the body, enabling it to successfully fight cancer. Medical marijuana also combats the effects of cachexia, or cachexia in the course of cancer. The properties of cannabinoids are used in cancers of the reproductive system, gastrointestinal tract, lymphatic system and in brain glioma, among others.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. The use of medical marijuana is a form of complementary therapy for MS treatment. The cannabinoids it contains protect cells in the nervous system from demyelination. Cannabis used in the course of multiple sclerosis:
- relaxes muscles;
- improves motor coordination;
- relieves inflammation (including optic neuritis);
- improves neurological performance.
In addition, medical marijuana alleviates the emotional disorders that accompany MS – counteracting depression and leveling anxiety. It also combats gastrointestinal complaints (nausea) and increases appetite, preventing cachexia.
Supporting the treatment of MS is the most commonly discussed use of medical marijuana for nervous system dysfunctions. However, cannabinoids have shown effective effects in many other neurological diseases and disorders, such as, but not limited to:
- Parkinson’s disease;
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Huntington’s chorea;
- Tourette’s syndrome;
- Lyme disease.
Other diseases and ailments
The list of conditions for which medical marijuana is used, how very long. It includes gastrointestinal diseases (Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome), skin diseases (pruritus), autoimmune diseases (Sjögren’s Syndrome), rheumatic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis) and mental diseases (depression, neurosis). It also supports the treatment of glaucoma.
Medical marijuana is also effective for many other ailments, such as appetite disorders, nausea, menstrual pain and stressful lifestyles.
What does medical marijuana treatment look like?
Preparing for medical marijuana therapy
Before starting treatment with medical marijuana, the doctor interviews the patient to learn about his expectations. Based on this, he selects for therapy a variety of marijuana with a predominance of dried marijuana with stimulating or calming properties.
Course of medical marijuana therapy
Medical marijuana therapy should be combined with other treatments. It is recommended that it be an adjunct to other therapies and not the first choice therapy. Treatment always starts with small doses, which are gradually increased. Taking medical marijuana must be supervised by a doctor to negate the risk of side effects and interactions with other medicinal preparations. The effectiveness of medical marijuana treatment can be evaluated after 3 months.
As with any drug, there are contraindications for cannabis therapy as well. The most important of these are cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems and allergy to cannabis. Medical marijuana cannot be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Who else is medical marijuana therapy not for? For people suffering from certain mental illnesses (schizophrenia, mania) and alcohol and psychoactive substance abuse. A relative contraindication to medical marijuana therapy is the patient’s age under 25.