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 While most of these treatments have been replaced by modern medicine, marijuana is still being researched as a treatment for rheumatism.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.