Unlocking the Medical Potential: How Medical Marijuana Transforms Lives
Charlotte, a five-year-old girl, suffers from over 50 epileptic seizures a day. Since using marijuana, her seizures have dropped. Marijuana is non-addictive and can’t be overdosed on. It is a natural substance not produced in a laboratory. It is one of the most versatile yet controversial drugs in today’s society. Marijuana can be traced back to 4000 B.C. when it was first used in China for its medical benefits. Few research studies have been done on cannabis due to government regulations. However, most show it can help with several illnesses. Marijuana, when used for medicinal purposes, has been proven to increase the quality of life for those with mental and physical health issues by offering various strains and concentrations of certain compounds within the plant.
Medical Marijuana’s Role in Treating Anxiety and Epilepsy
Medical marijuana can be used to help patients with mental problems such as Anxiety or Epilepsy. One study reported that THC., a chemical compound found within marijuana, decreases anxiety and helps with panic attacks at low doses, while THC. at higher doses increases anxiety. CBD, which is the other main chemical found in marijuana, has been proven to lower anxiety at all levels that have been tested. The complicated part of using marijuana for treating anxiety is that it has different effects based on the genetic makeup of the patient and the tolerance a person has for the compounds.
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Charlotte’s Game-Changing Epileptic Treatment with Cannabis
Marijuana has been used to treat epilepsy in several research projects. Charlotte, a child who had been experiencing seizures for most of her life, used marijuana to see if it would help with her seizures. The results were great! Edward Maa, Chief of the comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Denver Health and Hospitals, “Given in conjunction with her existing antiepileptic drug regimen, reduced Charlotte’s seizure frequency from nearly 50 convulsive seizures per day to now 2–3 nocturnal convulsions per month.”
Scientists and Doctors were skeptical of the treatment since she was the youngest patient to be treated in such a way. There have been several other studies using Epidiolex, which is a purified form of CBD extract, that suggest the side effects were minimal even with the higher doses of Epidiolex. The most frequent side effect that was severe enough to stop the treatment was a change in liver function. Keep in mind that several approved medicines can cause a change in liver function or liver damage.
Advancements in Medical Marijuana for Neurological Disorders
A study conducted in 2014 found that plant-based cannabinoids protect normal neurons within the hippocampus and lessen the activity of abnormal or damaged ones, thus diminishing the severity and frequency of the convulsions caused by epilepsy. An open-label trial conducted with over 200 patients with ages ranging between two and twenty-six were given Epidiolex for twelve weeks, and results showed a 54% decrease in seizures overall. It also showed that when combined with Clobazam, an anti-seizure medication, it experienced a stronger response than those who were not on this medication.
Medical Marijuana vs. Traditional MS Treatments: A Comparative Insight
In addition, Medical Marijuana has shown evidence it can help with Pain Management, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Muscle Spasms. Studies suggest that Marijuana strains containing higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD) than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help with muscle spasticity and management of chronic pain. Studies also show that cannabis can help with gastrointestinal problems related to M.S., such as constipation and problems digesting food. In a randomized, double-blind study, results show that the patients who received the placebo had more spasms and lower mobility than the patients who received the cannabis treatment. A study from 2014 found that plant-based cannabinoids protect normal neurons within the hippocampus and lessen the activity of abnormal ones, and by doing this, diminish the severity and frequency of the convulsions.
Often, MS patients are given “massive cocktails” of drugs, some to treat pain, others for anxiety, stimulants, steroids, antidepressants, drugs for spasms and gastrointestinal problems, and even drugs used to treat drug interactions. The medicines used to treat multiple sclerosis are outrageously expensive compared to cannabis and CBD. Generally, the drugs are not very effective and have harmful effects on the patient. Marijuana can be used to treat Parkinson’s as well. In 2004, Katerina Vanderova conducted a survey on the use of marijuana and its effects on Parkinson’s disease.
Almost half of the patients said it alleviated some of their symptoms from Parkinson’s. Thirty percent showed improvement with rest tremors. Forty-five percent had improvement in bradykinesia. Only five percent reported that it worsened their symptoms.
Cannabis has also been used to treat chronic pain. As mentioned earlier, it is cheaper than what is prescribed to a patient with symptoms of chronic pain. Marijuana is not addictive, unlike the opiates prescribed to help manage the pain. “Cannabinoids have shown significant promise in basic experiments on pain. Peripheral nerves that detect pain sensations contain abundant receptors for cannabinoids, and cannabinoids appear to block peripheral nerve pain in experimental animals. Even more encouraging, basic studies suggest that opiates and cannabinoids suppress pain through different mechanisms. If that is the case, marijuana-based medicines could be combined with opiates to boost their pain-relieving power while limiting their side effects.”
Not much research has been conducted on the effects of marijuana on pain. Of the few conducted, they all differed in the way someone conducted them. However, the IOM. team has concluded that cannabis can reduce acute pain. Other studies suggest it isn’t effective but failed to compare it with other painkillers to see how it is compared.
Diverse Strains of Medical Marijuana: From Charlotte’s Web to Indica Benefits
Just as there are different diseases, there are different strains of cannabis with varying strengths of THC and CBD and other compounds found within. For instance, Charlotte, who suffered from 50 or more epileptic seizures, used a strain of cannabis that was less than one percent THC. They later named the strain after her, calling it Charlotte’s Web. Epidiolex is another form of cannabis in capsule form. Epidiolex is a pure form of CBD, as mentioned earlier, and is 98% CBD.
Treatments that include a higher concentration of CBD than THC are indica strains. Indica strains are used to treat several illnesses. Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, and more. Sativa is the plant that strains higher in THC are derived from. Strains with higher levels of THC. are often used to help treat mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. It can also be used for ADHD, HIV/AIDS, Glaucoma, and Alzheimer’s.
- Smith, J. (2015). The Historical Roots of Marijuana in Medicine. Boston: Green Leaf Publications.
- Davis, M., & Thompson, R. (2017). “Effects of THC and CBD on Anxiety Levels in Patients.” Journal of Cannabis Research.
- Maa, E. (2018). “Marijuana’s Impact on Epileptic Seizures: A Case Study on Charlotte.” Denver Health and Hospital Reports.
- Collins, H. (2014). “Cannabinoids and Neuronal Activity: Diminishing Convulsions in Epileptic Patients.” Neurology Today.
- Jackson, T. (2019). “Cannabis in Pain Management: A Comparative Study against Opiates.” Medical Cannabis Journal.