Wednesday July 1, 2015
In the movie Knocked Up, Seth Rogen's character claims that "[Weed] is, like the best medicine 'cause it fixes everything." And though the statement if probably a bit overblown (it hasn't fixed my unhealthy aversion to scotch tape, after all), it does have some merit.
Marijuana has long been known to relieve pain and nausea in cancer patients, reduce pressure caused by glaucoma, and lessen the severity of seizures, but there are many other medical applications for the cannabis plant, some of which might surprise you.
Here are 10 of our favorites:
1. Cannabis can stop the growth of certain cancers
Marijuana can do more than increase appetite and reduce pain for cancer patients. According to Leaf Science, it may actually help eradicate certain types of cancer cells all together. Referencing a study published online at AntiCancer Research, the article notes that leukemia cells stopped growing (and sometimes even destroyed themselves) throughout all phases of cell growth in vitro. Similar results have been found for both breast and colon cancers.
2. Marijuana can help regulate gastric functions
For those who suffer from gastric disorders such as IBS or Crohn's Disease, marijuana can relieve many unpleasant symptoms (like pain and inflammation) thanks to an abundance of cannabinoid receptors along the GI tract. Cannabis can also help relax rectal muscles to aid in defication and modulate constipation, diarrhea and acid reflux.
3. Pot can protect the brain
Marijuana's well-known anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to protect the brain in a number of circumstances. For example, some research suggests that marijuana use can decrease mortality among people suffering from traumatic brain injury, while other studies note its ability to prevent, and even reverse, the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Though no human trials are underway yet, one study also suggests that marijuana's neuroprotective capabilities could reverse brain damage in premature babies, too.
4. Cannabis use promotes more restful sleep
Marijuana is often used as a sleep aid with many users reporting to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with little to no groggy feeling the next day. But marijuana affects sleeping patterns in other ways, too, including an increase in the duration of restorative sleep cycles and a reduction in sleep-related disturbances associated with sleep apnea.
5. Marijuana mouthwash can help treat oral infections
Smoking a lot of weed can cause gum disease if accompanied by poor dental hygiene (if you frequently get the munchies or cottonmouth, for example), but using it topically in in the form of CBD-rich mouthwash or toothpaste can actually be quite beneficial. That's because the cannabinoid, CBD, contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and serves as a bone stimulant. In other words, an occasional gargle with some green could protect those pearly whites.
6. Vaporized, topical or edible cannabis can improve skin conditions
Marijuana combustion produces carcinogens that can damage the skin and reduce elasticity, but when used either orally or topically, it can have the opposite effect by reducing puffiness around the eyes and increasing lipid production for younger-looking skin. Some even suggest that it could be used to treat acne (though others speculate that pores clogged with resin might nullify this application). If you prefer to inhale your weed, a vaporizer can reduce the harmful effects while still offering some degree of improvement.
7. Marijuana smokers have increased lung capacity
A person's lung capacity has been shown to correlate directly with longevity; those with a larger lung capacity tend to be healthier and live longer than those with a reduced lung capacity. They also tend to heal more easily from illness or injury and have higher levels of energy and endurance.
Unlike cigarette smokers, people who regularly smoke marijuana (around 2 to 3 times per month) have been shown to have an increased lung capacity when compared to nonsmokers. Though probably caused by regular exercise (breath in deep, hold as long as possible, then exhale), it is important to note that marijuana's anti-tumor properties can also help protect the lungs and respiratory tract from diseases like cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
8. Marijuana could help aid in drug rehabilitation
Despite its Schedule I status, marijuana is less harmful than many other drugs. In fact, given its relatively low risk-factor, marijuana can be used to help curb addictions to other, more dangerous drugs like heroin, opiates and even alcohol. Though there is some controversy with the idea of replacing one drug addiction for another, when you consider the increasing overdose rate of both prescription and illicit drugs (compared to a nearly impossible marijuana overdose), I think it's safe to say that these means should justify the end.
9. Cannabis helps regulate metabolism
We all know that marijuana can induce extreme food cravings (A.K.A. "the munchies"), so it's a good thing that it also speeds up the metabolic processes. The results are lower resting insulin levels (by about 16 percent) and decreased waist circumference (by an average of 1.5 inches). Marijuana has also been associated with higher levels of high-density lipoproteins ("good cholesterol") which can help protect against a heart attack or stroke. It can also be used in diabetes management thanks to its ability to improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels.
10. You can use weed to elevate your exercise routine
When it's time to get off of the couch and go for a jog, marijuana can help improve endurance and form. After a workout, marijuana can promote muscle rejuvenation and caloric replacement. Many professional athletes even tout marijuana's ability to improve exercise, claiming that it reduces muscle fatigue and makes for a much more enjoyable workout.
There are a lot of good reasons to consume marijuana that go well beyond its awesome side effects. From treating more serious illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer's disease to relief of more minor irritations like acne and skin irritations, marijuana quite possibly could be the best medicine ever. Until more research is conducted on the matter, however, we may have to rely on personal experiences and anecdotal evidence to tell us all of the ailments marijuana can help with.
Tell us: Why do you consume cannabis?