News » Cannabis As Medicine – the Medical Uses of Marijuana
May 18, 2011 by cannacentral
The following was recently published in issue #376 of the Health Freedom Network Newsletter and was written by CannaCentral founders Justin and Sebastian.
The cannabis plant is both a subject of wonder and of derision. The plant is so ingrained into western culture as “evil” that its ban was included in the charter for the League of Nations and later the United Nations.
The cannabis plant family includes several plants, some of which produce tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) in quantities large enough to be absorbed by humans. Most cannabis plants are actually benign – these are commonly known as “hemp” and have been grown for most of known human civilization. THC-producing plants are commonly called “marijuana” in the U.S. and have varying levels of THC in them according to their strain (hybrid type).
The Politics of Pot
For centuries, cannabis has had known medicinal uses, but the scientific exploration of those uses has been stilted by political opposition and societal pressures against marijuana as a street drug. Although little evidence exists to show cannabis as a negative recreational substance – especially as compared to the effects of alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and other drugs both legal and not – the push to keep it as an illicit substance remains.
Despite this, while illegal in all parts of the world, cannabis has been decriminalized in many areas and legalized as medication in others. Currently, cannabis as a medicine (or for personal use) is legal in Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and 15 states plus the District of Columbia in the United States.
Cannabis In Science
The discovery of cannabinoids, receptors in most animals, including humans, that react specifically with the compounds present in cananbis, changed the way medical science looked at marijuana as medicine. This discovery in the 1990s lead to a wide scale research push into the beneficial uses (and possible synthesis) of cannabis and its active compounds. In 2010, more than 2,500 reputable scientific studies about cannabis were published world wide.
Cannabis has been found to be beneficial for the amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger, lowering of intraocular eye pressure, for relief of muscle over-stimulation (spasms), and more. In fact, the studies showing the efficacy of cannabis and cannabinoids continue to grow daily.
The compounds in cannabis or the plant or resins it produces are used to treat side effects and symptoms in AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and others.
Using Cannabis for Medication
Public perception commonly treats marijuana use as a “hippie” or “pot head” thing with visions of young people coughing thick smoke in rooms covered in psychedelic posters and drawings. The reality is that most medicinal cannabis users do smoke, but often they use vaporizers, water filtration systems (bongs or hookas), etc.
While the press seems enamored with the more creative (but generally less effective) cannabis intake methods such as “pot brownies” or THC-imbued candy and soda pop, many serious medical users are finding more potent and less debilitating ways to ingest their medication.
A growing number of medicinal users, however, are getting right to the compounds that do the most good by distilling or otherwise processing cannabis buds and resins to create pastes, cremes, tinctures, and other ways of using the medicine without smoking or even getting the associated high (psychoactive effects).
Pharmaceutical companies, by the same token, are working on both synthetic and naturally-derived options for isolating and distributing cannabinoids as pills. While the practice is controversial, it is lending some legitimacy to the idea of medical cannabis in the wider medical community.
The Future of Medical Marijuana
Although the current market and science behind cannabis as a medicinal plant is still young, the fundamentals behind how it works and why it works have been ironed out enough that refuting it as a medication is to ignore science. Yet those who continue to refute its medicinal properties are either in the scientific establishment themselves (often as medical practitioners) or attempt to cite scientific backing for their claims.
Although some side effects and psychological possibilities may exist for cannabinoids, these are far fewer and less severe than the same side effects for most pharmaceuticals that are legally on the market. Many of the so-called studies that claim marijuana has extreme adverse effects, such as schizophrenia in teenagers, are fraught with bad methodology or questionable conclusions and are what the medical industry calls “proof of preconception” – they are created merely to “prove” a preconceived notion.
Sadly, that latter event is something that happens all too often in today’s politically-charged science, especially in medicine.
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