Marijuana, the name transfers us to the world of hippies or smokers. Many of us try to abstain from it. Marijuana is popular as it is a hallucinogen that lets you escape from the reality by distorting the way mind perceives things. But, little do we know that the drug obtained from the dried leaves of cannabis plant can be used as a medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Presently, the drug has gained popularity in different parts of the world. Marijuana is legalized in many countries owing to the numerous benefits offered by it. Marijuana is mainly consumed through hand rolled cigarettes or by water pipes. People do mix marijuana in food like brownies, cookies or candies (1). Marijuana’s positive health effects are mentioned below.
Health Benefits of Marijuana
1. Treats Glaucoma
It is one of the best marijuana health benefits. Glaucoma is a disease that develops due to an increased pressure in the eyes. It damages the optic nerve in the eye and if not treated properly, it can get worse with time causing loss of vision. Consumption of marijuana reduces the pressure inside the eyes. Studies carried out by national eye institute have shown that intake of marijuana through smoking lowered the risk of glaucoma by decreasing the IOP (Intraocular Pressure) and cured the disease in those who were suffering from it (2).
Note: Its direct application on the eye does not show any improvement.
2. Improves Lung Health
Smoking marijuana occasionally does not harm the body (3). Several studies have proved that it is not as damaging to the body as tobacco. (4). On the contrary, it leads to an increased lung capacity. A more recent study has shown that consumption of marijuana for 20 years does not cause any damage to the lung health (5).
3. Cures Epileptic Seizures
In this disease, the person experiences fits due to abnormal neuronal activity in the brain (6). A study has shown that the use of marijuana can show a noticeable improvement in the disease. Marijuana provides a relief from the fits for up to 10 hours. Cannabinoids present in the drug triggers CB1 receptors which relax our system (7).
4. Beneficial in Treating Dravet’s Syndrome
Dravet’s syndrome is a neurological disorder that generally occurs in small children. The disease grows with time and causes the person to suffer from learning disability, behavior difficulties, and ataxia. The extract of the plant is beneficial in curing severe epilepsy like dravet syndrome (8).
5. Shows Anti-Cancer Properties
A research showed that treating breast cancer cells with cannabidiol reduced the number of LD cells (9). Another study has proved that THC and CBD taken along with radiations increased the killing of cancerous cells (10). Marijuana can also slow down the spread of brain tumor connected to 80% of malignant brain cancer.
6. Decreases Anxiety
One of the main health benefits of marijuana is that it soothes the mind. People smoke marijuana to get relieved from the anxiety and mental stress of day to day life. Marijuana reduces tension and uplifts the mood (11). Studies have shown that the contents of marijuana have anti-depressing effects.
7. Slows Down Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease leads to a loss of memory and generally, occurs at old ages. THC sedates the development of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme responsible for its production. This plaque destroys the brain cells and causes the disease. A mixture of THC and CBD helps preserve memory (12). Another disease associated with a decline in memory, dementia is also cured by the intake of marijuana, owing to the presence of dronabinol (13).
Note: High doses of the drug may increase the anxiety levels.
8. Cures Multiple Sclerosis
Marijuana reduces the pain and muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (14). A research carried out on 30 patients suffering from MS has shown that the patients did not show any improvement with other treatments, but smoking cannabis (another name for marijuana) reduced the pain (15). The THC binds to the receptors in nerves and muscles in order to alleviate the pain. It also cures muscle spasms.
9. Reduces Side Effects from Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C treatment may come as something harsh for the body. Its side effects include depression, fatigue, and loss of appetite, muscle aches, and nausea. The drug is popularly used for treating infections arising from hepatitis C (16).
10. Heals Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowels diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are benefited by marijuana. The plant derived Cannabinoids present in the marijuana obstructs the bacteria to permeate into intestines by strengthening the intestinal cell bond. A study has shown that cannabis reduced Crohn’s disease in many patients, without any side effects (17).
11. Gives Relief from Arthritis
In the United States, almost 1% of people are suffering from this deadly disease. Women have outnumbered men (18). Marijuana is great at reducing pain, discomfort, inflammation, and helps treat arthritis as well (19). THC and CBD, the beneficial compounds found in marijuana are anti-inflammatory and analgesic; they protect the body from the symptoms of arthritis.
12. Cures Parkinson’s Disease
Smoking marijuana eases pain and muscle cramps. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder affecting the brain, movement, and muscles (20).
13. Decreases Blood Glucose Levels
Marijuana is great at lowering the glucose levels. The cannabis compound helps control blood sugar (21). Along with that, cannabis suppresses arterial inflammation that could lead to cardiovascular disorders.
14. Helpful in PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder develops in a person when he has experienced a shocking or a dangerous event. According to a study, it has been found that the drug helps war survivors overcome the post-traumatic stress (22). This is the main reason due to which people get a license for using marijuana in New Mexico. The cannabinoids reduce anxiety and fear from the mind.
15. Eliminates Nightmares
Marijuana can be good or bad for sleeping. It may interact with the sleeping pattern and may cause a delay in sleep. On the other hand, the drug is beneficial for those suffering from nightmares. Marijuana eases the mind and interrupts the REM sleep (sleep with rapid eye movements and fast heartbeat). By putting a break on REM sleep, it stops the nightmares from haunting us. A study has shown that cannabinoid present in marijuana helps treat nightmares, particularly in the case of PTSD (23). Regular use of the drug may pose a problem in sleeping; still, the weed is much better sleeping aid than its counterparts like alcohol and other medications.
16. Useful for People Cutting on Alcohol
Marijuana is much safer than alcohol (24). It is less addictive and does not harm physically. Too much of alcohol causes a problem in endocannabinoid system. Research has shown that people have started using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol. Similarly, the drug is beneficial in reducing dependency on the opiate.
17. Protects the Brain from Trauma
Marijuana is an effective drug that helps heal brain from a traumatic injury. THC shows a positive effect on the adult patients suffering from TBI (25). Many states like California, Nevada, Oregon, and others have legalized marijuana seeing its therapeutic value in the treatment of brain of a traumatic injury. A new research has shown that those having THC in their brain were able to survive the effects of trauma resulting from a brain injury, as compared to the others.
18. Treats Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder in which immune system does not function properly. Autoimmune means that the immune system is not able to differentiate between the foreign bodies and body’s health tissue. The two main symptoms of lupus are pain and inflammation. Several types of research carried out from time to time have proved marijuana to be anti-inflammatory (26). It increases the anti – inflammatory protein interleukin-10 and brings a decrease in the level of pro-inflammatory protein interleukin-2. Vaporizing cannabis is better than smoking the drug as smoking it may result in lung irritation.
19. Increases Brain Activity
Marijuana grooms the mind and makes the brain more creative. A survey carried out showed that 25% of the people believed that the drug increased the creative powers of the person (27).
20. Cures Migraines
A migraine results in severe headache. The anti-inflammatory properties present in marijuana helps get rid of a headache. Doctors of California have treated more than 3000 patients successfully. A research was carried out in which the patients suffering from a migraine were given marijuana. At the end of the study, it was found that migraine frequency lowered from 10.4 to 4.6 events per week(28).
21. Beneficial in AIDS
The doctors at California prescribe the patients suffering from AIDS to consume marijuana (29). The National Institute of Health agrees on the benefits of marijuana for AIDS. Marijuana relieves the patients from nausea and increases appetite, decelerating the weight loss. It is particularly beneficial in preventing the AIDS wasting syndrome. The THC found in marijuana is synthetically available as Marinol that helps stop the HIV from spreading (30). In a research, it has been found that the ones who received doses of marijuana daily developed new health cells and a control on HIV.
22. Treats Bipolar Disorder
Cannabis is used by the people suffering from bipolar disorder. It is thought to be more effective than the traditional drugs in the treatment of this disorder. The use of cannabis resulted in a positive effect on the patients suffering from bipolar disorder (31).
23. Heals Premenstrual Syndrome
The premenstrual disorder results in body ache, mood swings, fatigue, depression, and irritability. Marijuana is effective in getting rid of premenstrual symptoms (32). It promotes hormone balancing in the body and has pain alleviating properties, similar to a pain killer.
24. Increases Appetite and Regulates Digestion
Marijuana aids in digestion and increases the appetite (33). A study has proved that THC may protect against digestive disorders. Researchers found that THC is capable of shielding the lining of the stomach and intestine from injury.
25. Treats Autism
Autism is a disease in which a person suffers from communication and hearing impairment. Mostly, the symptoms are visible in 2-3 years of age. Patients suffering from autism showed improvement in irritability and hyperactivity when treated with dronabinol (a man-made form of cannabis) (34). Scientists are still carrying out experiments to find out its effectiveness in treating the disease.
26. Heals Broken Bones
Cannabis compound is effective in healing the broken bones. The anti-inflammatory substance, cannabidiol is great at repairing fractured bones. Cannabidiol encourages the collagen protein molecule and makes bones stronger than ever (35).
27. Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the most common and successful treatment for cancer. It saves one from the deadly disease, but has a lot of side effects associated with it. Marijuana can be particularly beneficial in counteracting the horrible consequences of chemo. According to a study, CBD found in marijuana is beneficial in getting rid of chemo-induced vomiting and nausea (36). Marijuana is licensed by the state to be given to the patients struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy (37).
28. Calms Down Asthma Attack
Cannabis is found to be bronchodilator that is quite effective in treating asthma (38). The researches carried out have revealed that marijuana has the same effect as the medications used in asthma. According to a research, THC in marijuana has a better effect on asthmatic patients as compared to salbutamol, medicine prescribed by doctors to enlarge the airways (39).
29. Regulates OCD
Marijuana is beneficial in curing pain and agony felt in anxiety or stress related diseases. Obsessive compulsive disorder is a kind of anxiety problem in which feelings, fears of objects cannot be controlled. Cannabis is found to have a positive influence on people suffering OCD (40). THC in the marijuana combines with the anandamide in the brain to produce a soothing and calming effect.
30. Cures ADHD
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is marked by continuous inattention or hyperactivity of brain that hampers its normal functioning (41). Use of cannabis has found to improve the condition of ADHD (42). According to a study, marijuana manages the hyperactive and impulsive behavior in adults.
Beauty Benefits of Marijuana
31. Treats Dry Skin
Marijuana is extremely beneficial for treating withered and dehydrated skin. Skin problems that arise due to dryness like eczema and psoriasis can be effectively cured by the drug. Moreover, the cannabis oil can be applied externally on the skin for protection. The oil promotes the shedding of dead cells and growth of new cells resulting in effulgent and smooth skin (43).
32. Possesses Anti-Aging Properties
The leaves and the oil of the drug are potent to reverse the signs of aging by reducing wrinkles and fine lines (44). Cannabinoids or THC is anti-inflammatory and antioxidants that counteract free radicals and give you a younger looking skin. It lightens the complexion of skin. Marijuana face pack can be made by combining an avocado, 2 tsp spirulina powder, 1/8 tsp patchouli oil, and 1/4 cup marijuana oil.
Note: The benefits of marijuana are applicable only when it is applied to the skin, whereas its consumption may speed up the signs of aging.
33. Promotes Hair Growth
Cannabis oil is effective in nourishing your hair and scalp. The oil is enriched with vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Cannabis oil holds the intercellular matrix, maintaining hydration in the scalp. Along with this, it boosts hair growth due to the presence of fatty acids such as omega-6 (45).
Word of Caution
Marijuana is a potent drug but overuse of it may result in following complications. The herb must be taken only after consulting a doctor.
1) Marijuana intake may result in an increased risk of heart attack.
2) There is no denying in the fact that the regular consumption of the weed would make you addicted to it.
3) The effect of marijuana does not come instantly. Wait for an hour after consuming marijuana as to see its full effect.
4) Strong doses of the drug may result in hallucinations.