Marijuana, Medicine

Marijuana as a Medicine

Here in Canada marijuana is about to be legalized for recreational use. For some time now it has been legalized for medicinal purposes and it seems to be of great benefit to those who use it. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

I want to be clear here: I am not here to debate the morality of drug use. I am here to examine whether cannabis has any medical benefits, and if so, explain them to you. With that being said, let’s continue.

Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times. In ancient India a drink made from marijuana, milk, ghee and spices, called bhang, is described as one of the ‘five kingdoms of herbs…which release us from anxiety.” It is later said that it has the ability to make people happy and improve mental powers as well as treat congestion. Interestingly, despite Hindu sanctions against consuming alcohol because of its intoxicating effects, cannabis remained one of the few treatments for anxiety.

Marijuana has a rich history in India, and to some is considered holy. The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission described it as being able to cure dysentery and sunstroke, freshen the intellect, and speed up digestion.

The ancient Egyptian document called the Ebers Papyrus,which is a medical book of herbal knowledge, mentions that cannabis is beneficial in treating inflammation. Interestingly, the book mentions some other cures that we still use today, like the cure for Guinea-worm disease,  which is to wrap the emerging end of the worm around a stick and pull it out. It has also been an inspiration for many other modern medicines, which proves its validity.

Chinese emperor Shen Neng is said to have introduced cannabis as a pharmaceutical product. It was said to have the power to treat malaria, gout, beriberi, rheumatism and poor memory. While most of these treatments have been replaced by modern medicine, marijuana is still being researched as a treatment for rheumatism.

Flash forward to ancient Rome, where Pliny the Elder describes the painkilling effects of cannabis, but warns that excessive consumption can cause impotence.  One of Nero’s medical men recommended a marijuana juice for treating earaches, and this treatment was later proven beneficial.  In Greece a doctor who had a great impact on western medicine, known as Galen, used marijuana to treat pain and flatulence.

Women in Vietnam would ingest tea made from marijuana to treat postpartum distress, this practice continues even today. Various tribal communities in Africa have described using marijuana to treat many conditions, including snakebites, birthing pains, anthrax, dysentery, malaria and asthma.

In 1532, a French doctor would prescribe cannabis to treat gout, cure colic in horses, and treat burns. In China, Li Shih-Chen wrote about marijuana having anti-emetic and antibiotic effects. Robert Burton would later suggest that marijuana could treat mood disorders, which is still being researched today.

In early America The New England Dispensatory would recommend cannabis to treat inflamed skin, incontinence, coughs and venereal disease. In the 1830’s research was done showing that marijuana could be used to treat the nausea and pain that come with rabies, cholera, tetanus and epilepsy.

Due to heavy taxes on cannabis in the U.S, research into the use of marijuana drastically slowed down. However, it was confirmed in 1950’s Czechoslovakia that marijuana did have some antibiotic and analgesic effects. Later, in the 1970’s it was suggested that marijuana could be useful to treat glaucoma.

Flash forward to today. Marijuana has been re-legalized, after having been illegal in North America for more than 50 years. It is now used to treat epilepsy, the side effects of chemotherapy, AIDS, Parkinson’s, M.S, and Chrohn’s disease. A 2015 study showed that marijuana is useful in treating schizophrenia. Research has also shown benefits in treating broken bones, curing migraines, and even helping brain tumours.

As an interesting side fact, there were over 2000 medical cannabis products from over 280 manufacturers, prior to the Marijuana tax in 1937.

Cannabis has a rich medical history and seems to have many benefits. However there is not a lot of recent research into its benefits due to it being difficult to get permission to use it for study. We do know that the plant has intoxicating effects and should be carefully.

So yes, cannabis does seem to have medical benefits. But is it a good idea? Well, lets look at cost. Dronabinol, the synthetic version of THC, costs upwards of $800 for a month’s dose. Comparable doses of marijuana cost considerably less.

Another benefit to medical marijuana is that it does not have to be injected or swallowed, which is beneficial to people who are suffering from nausea or vomiting and cannot swallow a pill. Patients can dose themselves and adjust the dose as required. This is not the case with pills, which take a considerable amount of time to take effect.

The other benefit to marijuana over many other modern treatments is that it does not have nearly as many side effects as many modern medicines. Consider Lipitor, a cholesterol medication that Americans spend 7 billion dollars on every year. Its side effects include memory loss, worsened diabetes, muscle problems, liver problems, fever, tiredness, weight gain, swelling, hunger, dry skin, blurred vision, stomach pain, loss of appetite, jaundice, diarrhea and nausea.

One more thing that you may consider before trying marijuana as a medical treatment is that it is natural. It means you don’t have to put some pill, whose long-tern effects we know nothing about, into your body.

It seems to me that marijuana is a completely viable medical treatment. In some cases it may be better than modern treatments at treating your maladies, if taken in controlled doses. However I am not a doctor, so my advice should be taken lightly.

Once again, I’m not trying to spark an ethical debate. I simply want to show the benefits of the marijuana plant when used correctly. Thank you for giving this a read. If you’re reading this and would like to comment with the medical benefits you have received from marijuana, I would love to read them.

-Sean

4 thoughts on “Marijuana as a Medicine

  1. anecdotal but I’ve stopped using cannabis for 3 months now (had been taking way too much daily) and one things for sure, it was masking a fair few physical ailments on me. Joints ache, sinus headaches… it is obviously awesome pain relief!

    We have a real growing heroin problem over here and yet our police waste their time busting cannabis growers. Really frustrating.

  2. I knew there were a number medicinal benefits, but I had no idea there were so many! Thank you for the fascinating history lesson.

  3. Some of the positive effects of it were true, but I feel you missed some of the negative effects. Regular use of marijuana for a prolonged period of time can produce both psychosis and Chronic vomiting syndrome. (CVS) Often people with CVS will take a hoot (bong rip of marijuana) to ease the symptoms of the nausea which it will temporarily ease but in the end only feeds the problem.

    Also one must really watch what strain of THC they are taking because there are some that are not anxiety soothing at all but do quite the opposite. There are three definite marijuana strains and all three do different things. Most people buy a mixture of the strains without knowing what exactly they are getting.

    Marijuana is a lot like alcohol in the sense that it creates a high. The level of the high depends on how potent the marijuana is and obviously the quantity. So it helps by putting you in a numbing state or depending on the strain an energized dumbness. So you really have to count the cost.

    One other issue I must address with the use of marijuana.. Sometimes when doctors have prescribed marijuana for use of symptoms treatment they are ignoring the real problem. Yes it helps with symptoms, but it’s not fixing the issue.

    Just like any other herb or medication it’s not perfectly safe. It has its downsides as well as pros. Let’s be honest and look at all sides.

    Just in case you see my name and wonder; yes you do know me. I couldn’t help but respond to this one.
    -Jerusha

    1. I mentioned in the post that it has some psychological effects over time. This is no different from many modern drugs which can cause severe depression, anxiety, psychosis and a myriad of other effects over time.

      You mention that the strain of cannabis smoked also makes a difference, which is true. However this is closely regulated when acquired through a prescription.

      I did mention the high of the marijuana plant, even though people are undoubtedly aware of it. Every person will experience this high in their own way, but it can be controlled, and is not harmful in small doses.

      Let’s be real here, most medicine doesn’t cure the disease, it simply helps with some side effects. When you take allergy meds you’re not curing your allergy – you’re reducing the side effects of it. Same goes with cold medicine. Same thing with the medications given to patients with mental disabilities, as I’m sure you know.

      I agree that it is not perfectly safe, but it seems to be better for you than many modern medications which have far worse side effects.

      -Sean

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *