How does medical marijuana work, and what conditions can it be used for?

Medical marijuana is used to treat a host of conditions. And as modern science arrives at a better understanding of how the cannabis plant works, the list of treatable conditions only looks set to grow. Here’s the lowdown on how it works and what conditions it can treat.

The Conditions Medical Marijuana is Used to Treat

Medical cannabis can help alleviate symptoms associated with many different conditions. The first thing to understand is that cannabis comes in many varieties, all with unique properties.

Most varieties are high in THC, the most prevalent cannabinoid that helps treat specific conditions like insomnia, appetite loss, and nausea. Other strains of medicinal cannabis may contain primarily CBD.

This non-intoxicating cannabinoid is widely used to treat conditions like anxiety, rampant inflammation, and even seizures. Many patients obtain optimal results when they consume a balance of both, along with a scattering of the broad selection of the other medicinal compounds present in the cannabis plant, including minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

Medical marijuana can treat a diverse range of conditions, with the most common being:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Immune system conditions such as HIV/AIDS or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Eating disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasms
  • Wasting syndrome (cachexia)

How Does Medical Marijuana Work?

The mechanisms by which medicinal cannabis works aren’t entirely understood, but science is slowly uncovering the inner workings of this complex plant. With over 400 active compounds all acting in unison, it’s no easy feat to understand the complexities involved in how the cannabis plant modulates its effects.

One of the primary sets of compounds in medicinal marijuana is cannabinoids. There are over 100 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and many of these cannabinoids interact with receptors within the endocannabinoid system.

While most people are familiar with THC and CBD, there are many other “minor cannabinoids” that can exhibit potent medicinal effects. These include cannabinoids like CBN (analgesic and anti-seizure effects), CBC (sedative, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects), and CBG (anti-inflammatory and sedative).

Another important class of compounds in the cannabis plant is terpenes. These are the compounds that give cannabis its unique scent, and when consumed with cannabinoids, they give rise to what’s known as the entourage effect.

This effect consists of a potent series of synergies, where the properties of individual cannabinoids or terpenes are accentuated when combined.

Another important class of compound is flavonoids. They have a broad spectrum of health-promoting benefits that include anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, anti-mutagenic, and anti-cancer properties along with immune support properties.

Medical Marijuana Benefits

Medical marijuana offers several advantages over forms of pharmaceutical medication. With a diverse range of natural compounds that all work synergistically as nature intended, medical marijuana offers many patients a more holistic treatment approach that can often provide deeper healing. It may not completely cure every disease or illness, but many of the benefits offered by this miracle plant often come with a notable lack of the severe side effects associated with pharmaceutical medications.

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