Cannabis, a plant commonly known as marijuana, weed, pot, grass, among many others, is a plant with psychoactive characteristics, used for medicinal or recreational purposes. It originates from a group of three Indian hemp plants called cannabis sativa, Cannabis ruderalis and cannabis indica with the most active chemical being delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.
Despite cannabis being used mostly for recreational purposes, over the years, research has produced results that suggest that it could be beneficial in the treatment of some illnesses. The following is a list of them.
Medical Benefits of Smoking Cannabis
Helps With Depression
Cannabis being a mood-altering substance, helps with depression. It contains compounds known as endocannabinoids that play a huge role in mood stabilization thus easing depression. Some research done at University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) suggests that marijuana’s cannabinoids and terpenes may be effective in treating depression brought on by persistent stress. Endocannabinoids are chemical molecules created spontaneously in the brain that influence motor control, cognition, emotions, and behaviour. Their chemical composition is comparable and much alike to that of cannabis.
Even though the research was conducted on animals rather than human beings, it shows that persistent stress may inhibit the brain’s creation of endocannabinoids which was discovered that this may result in depressive-like behaviour. Hence taking cannabis does not inevitably make you depressed. Instead, it reduces the activity of the central nervous system and the transmission of signals between the brain and body. Therefore, it has been noted that introducing cannabis into the system will assist in restoring normal levels and function. Which may help to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Helps Ease Chronic Pain
Smoking of cannabis helps to ease chronic pain as well as inflammation. One of the several chemical substances (cannabinoids) present in marijuana and hemp, can stick to the human neural receptors which are responsible for controlling inflammation and temperature in the human body. The presence of cannabinoids could lead to production of an anti-inflammatory effect on the human body.
A growing number of people are turning to medical marijuana in place of opioids as a painkiller. Some chronic pain, especially pain caused by nerve damage and inflammation, may be alleviated through consumption of cannabis.
In 2014, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published the findings of an online survey conducted with 95 participants. Research showed that sativa and indica strains were found to be favoured by participants for pain management and sedative purposes, while indica strains were favoured for a boost in energy and mood.
Using indica for pain relief was shown to have a statistically significant impact on participants who were experiencing joint pain, neuropathy, non-migraine headaches and also spasticity.
Helps With PTSD
Patients with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been said to feel much better and relaxed after smoking cannabis. There are several types of traumas that may cause post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These include natural disasters, major accidents, wars as well as threats of sexual assault or significant harm.
Upon consumption of marijuana cannabinoids, the body systems responsible for causing anxiety and fear are managed hence allowing patients to form new memories by forgetting the painful events that happened in their lives.
Some studies show that cannabis helps to reduce activity in the part of the brain that controls fright response from going into overdrive hence relieving tension. Studies were conducted among 400 PTSD patients and published in the Journal of Affective Disorder. The findings suggested that cannabis lowered the intensity of intrusions, bringing back traumatic events, by roughly 62%; flashbacks by 51%; irritability by 67%; and anxiety and fear by 57%, according to the research authors. However, the symptom reductions did not last.
Helps Fighting Cancer
Consumption of cannabinoids have also been shown to have a positive impact on the battle against some forms of cancer and have been helpful with other medical conditions as well. A handful of small studies have suggested that smoking marijuana can aid with nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy.
In addition, HIV patients who tend to lose appetite and weight have been said to have increased appetite from smoking cannabis. This also helps to prevent weight loss due to high food intake.
Recreational Benefits of Smoking Cannabis
As much as cannabis is used for medical purposes, it is also consumed for recreational purposes. This goes in contrast with the health usage as in this case marijuana is used for pleasure rather than to treat medical conditions.
For instance, smoking cannabis can enhance a person’s senses, improving the flavour of food and the sound of music, among other things. For years, doctors and researchers assumed that one of the primary cannabinoids in medicinal marijuana was responsible for the heightened senses experienced by users.
According to a 2014 study, THC, the cannabinoid found in marijuana, has been shown to boost human senses. This happens when cannabis interacts with the human brain’s receptors. The olfactory bulb, which controls the sense of smell, binds with THC receptors and enhances a person’s perceptions of the world around them. As a result, one is able to notice things like brighter colors, have a stronger sense of smell and is able to respond faster to hunger once experienced. Indeed, experts believe that the frequent side effect of the “munchies” is caused in part by increased sensory experience, as tastes and odours become even more potent.
Smoking cannabis is also known to enhance and unlock creativity in some people. This encourages people to think outside the box and openly express their thoughts and views, allowing them to build stronger relationships with their peers. Since marijuana tends to reduce inhibitions, smoking has become a way for friends to bond. While some people are born shy, which can have a negative impact on their social life.
Getting high can boost one’s self-esteem, make them more outgoing, and more confident speakers. For a short while, cannabis covers negative emotions and allows users to perceive life in a more positive light which can create harmony among a gathering of friends.
The increased openness of cannabis users to new knowledge plays a big role in enabling the shy individuals in the group to feel more comfortable. This in return could open a platform where they are able to express themselves as people who use marijuana have the impression that they can convince others of their point of view.
Cannabis = Countless Benefits
What this article reveals is that, use of cannabis can be beneficial to the growth of human kind. There are countless medical and recreational benefits of using cannabis. Some which are yet to be discovered, others whose research is ongoing. Bottom line is that the usage of cannabis is rising at a high rate in the world today.
However, more studies should be done to specify the dosage because just like every other drug, excessive consumption of marijuana can be harmful to human health. Smoking of cannabis can have both short- and long-term health consequences. Its potential medical benefits may be overstated by supporters who believe marijuana is the modern-day panacea, but the opposite is also true.
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