Marijuana has some fairly well-known benefits for those who smoke it, yet only recently is it gaining ground as a treatment option. This is by and large due to its designation as a Schedule 1 drug with “no currently accepted medical use”. This makes it difficult to research. Oftentimes, people attribute pain relief and the management of epilepsy to marijuana usage- and there are certainly other benefits that have yet to be explored. If anything, what has been learned so far is evidence of this. All in all, here are some things we know about the effects of marijuana:
Chances are, if you know about Marijuana, then you’ve at least heard of tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC. THC accesses the brain’s reward system, the same system that pays out when we do things that “feel good”- essentially, this part of the brain is why those things feel good. In effect, marijuana creates a euphoric effect in the body, so much so that some people are concerned about overuse of marijuana. These people suggest that an overuse of weed can lead to a tarnishing of other usually rewarding experiences.
One lesser-known fact of marijuana is that it can get your heart racing in the first few minutes, elevating your blood pressure; the increase is generally between 20-50 beats more in a given minute, for a duration of up to three hours. What does this mean for those with high blood pressure or other heart conditions? Well, unfortunately, we don’t really know. Information thus far is inconclusive about whether or not smoking marijuana will increase or decrease the odds of a heart attack. Still, barring hypertension, weed isn’t all bad. After all, we know for sure that
In addition to THC, weed has cannabidiol, better known by the handle CBD. Generally, it’s mentioned along with THC, as these two are the primary reasons to smoke marijuana. Anyway, CBD has nothing to do with triggering the high; instead, it provides the pain relief and potentially other forms of relief for conditions like epilepsy. This is no small deal as pain is generally the reason people seek out medical marijuana in the first place.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one such painful condition. One of the things it causes is inflammation, and it’s the sort of chronic pain that drastically lowers quality of life. An early study took a look at nearly 60 patients who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, giving half a placebo and half a medicine based on cannabis. In the end, results confirmed that those who had been exposed to the medicine had significant improvements regarding the pain they experienced and the quality of the sleep they received. This evidence has been backed up by other studies, which reveal a number of other cannabinoid products having a similar effect.
Likewise, inflammatory bowel diseases are often painful conditions; as with the above study on rheumatoid arthritis, studies were conducted for people with chronic Crohn’s disease as well. Half received the placebo, while half received a drug. The majority of the patients who were given the cannabis saw an improvement in terms of decreased symptoms. Still, there is definitely room for more research, as a follow-up study failed to deliver similar results; this may be a matter of dosage, as the second study was conducted with a low-dose CBD. It might be that a higher level of CBD is necessary, or that some other factor of marijuana is more significantly responsible for pain relief.
Pain isn’t the only problem researchers are trying to solve with medical marijuana. It turns out that some childhood forms of epilepsy may be treatable by the use of marijuana. Specifically, a drug containing CBD known as Epidiolex may soon be approved for the treatment of childhood epilepsy.
The focus is centered primarily around Dravet syndrome, which causes numerous type of seizures in those afflicted by it. So far, it seems the drug is having some positive effects, and may be close to market sooner rather than later.
Medically speaking, while there is definitely some promise for marijuana, it has other effects that you might not be aware of. Some of these may prove uncomfortable. Perhaps the most significant effect of marijuana is the loss of balance. Because of the way marijuana interacts with the brain, specifically the cerebellum and basal ganglia (These control reaction time, balance, and coordination) you may have some difficulty standing or moving around.
Another common effect of marijuana is the distortion of time. In fact, a vast majority of people who partake explain that time seems to travel much slower, or faster (or sometimes both at the same time). It’s not clear to what extent this happens, and there’s very little information on this effect in general, as it is difficult to study due to anecdotal reports and legal limitations, among other reasons. What we know so far is there is increased blood flow to the cerebellum, so that might have a role in the time distortion effect.
Another common, but typically harmless effect brought on by marijuana use is the red-eye effect. This happens because weed makes the blood vessels expand. In TV and the media, it’s one of the hallmark indicators of weed use, along with the munchies. While both of these may be played up, the latter is not much of an exaggeration, as it’s been proven that marijuana users tend to overeat when they smoke.
The reasoning behind the binge eating is a signal change caused by marijuana. Instead of quelling the appetite, as the trigger typically does after we’ve eaten, it seems that the psychoactive component in marijuana turns on the ‘hungry’ function so that we feel compelled to eat. This could be a pro or a con depending on your perspective. Speaking of perspective, however,