You may have noticed a lot of talk lately in mainstream news about weed’s possible health benefits.
References have ranged from the controversy over barring American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson from competing in the Olympic Games for pot in her system, to other elite athletes revealing their use of cannabis products, including Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe, who incorporates CBD into her soccer training routine and promotes her sister’s CBD brand. Boxer Mike Tyson has also shared he likes to smoke before every fight.
“It’s just who I am,’’ Tyson said in a past interview. “It has no effect on me from a negative standpoint. It’s just what I do and how I am.”
Maybe you’ve heard about Martha Stewart’s self-named brand of CBD gummies that claim to “make wellness an easier choice every day,” Kristen Bell’s Happy Dance CBD skincare line that “provides a little calmer,” or actor Jaleel White’s Purple Urkel, dedicated to celebrating the “many medical breakthroughs” of cannabis.
As weed becomes destigmatized for legitimate medical treatment, it’s worth exploring the potential health benefits that many continue to hail as a remedy for ailments ranging from insomnia to depression, not to mention an alternative to opioid-based medications.
Throughout history, cannabis has been known for its textile versatility, but its use in herbal medicine dates back as far as 500 B.C. Evidence shows that ancient cultures used it for healing and therapeutic needs, and Native Americans used it in various forms as a psychological aid, plus a treatment for gas, gout, joint pain, muscular atrophy, and other maladies.
In the 1830s, Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, an Irish doctor studying in India, discovered that cannabis could help lessen vomiting from cholera. By the late 1800s, cannabis extracts were sold in pharmacies throughout Europe and the U.S. to treat stomach problems, pain, and other ailments.
Medical science continues to discover more uses for cannabis. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two drugs containing THC that can treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and loss of appetite in AIDS patients, and Epidiolex, which contains CBD, for specific cases of seizures and epilepsy.
Recent studies indicate a more positive trend in the acceptance of cannabis as a healthy alternative to physical stimulants, pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, sleep aids, and other over-the-counter medications.
According to Forbes, a cannabis tech company, “dutchie,” recently conducted a study of 5,000 adult cannabis consumers from the U.S. and Canada, “seeking to provide a more accurate understanding of the modern cannabis user.” The data revealed that, “contrary to the outdated ‘Dazed and Confused’ depiction, today’s cannabis consumers are successful, motivated, and health-conscious people.”
The report suggests that 58% of respondents reported being physically active and enjoying hiking and sports, and 57% called themselves health conscious.
One of the more interesting movements in the cannabis health industry has been its use in treating veterans with PTSD and opioid addiction. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic improvement utilizing marijuana as a treatment method, which has led to a stronger push to loosen governmental restrictions in medical marijuana research.
To this end U.S. Special Operations Marine Raider Veterans, along with cannabis industry researchers, started Helmand Valley Growers Company in California to develop a veteran-based protocol in an effort to prove the benefits of medical cannabis.
“We’re on a mission to help put an end to the opioid and suicide epidemic plaguing our nation’s heroes,” explains Matt Curran, one of the founders. “We believe that exploring the benefits of medical cannabis is the most effective way to combat these issues.”
Curran and his team are focusing on the problem naturally, by trying to develop alternative medical solutions for those suffering with pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and sleep disorders.
“We believe that medical cannabis is the way of the future to help those in need. Masking the problem with pain relievers is not a solution. We need to get straight to the healing. America owes the plant a chance. We need to look at it through a different lens and recognize its many health benefits.”
So, can marijuana help us lead more dynamic and healthy lives?
The most common use for medical marijuana is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain, it can be quite effective for reducing chronic pain, especially as we age. Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates and it can often take the place of anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen.
It also eases the pain of multiple sclerosis and nerve pain. It is said to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. There are also many examples of it being used successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and other conditions where the common pathway is chronic pain.
Marijuana is also used to manage weight loss, insomnia, epilepsy, even glaucoma, and is reported to help patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and Lyme disease.
Athletes maintain that it helps keep them focused, and assists with proper breathing and sensory awareness, which means more efficient and effective workouts. Others say it simply helps them relax and doesn’t have the same long-term debilitating effects that more traditional relaxants can, like alcohol.
More accepted by society, physicians and therapists are using it more readily in treatments, which means Big Pharma will follow. According to Visual Capitalist, medical marijuana is poised to poach more than $4 billion annually from pharma sales, and with cannabis sales over $21 billion in 2020, and almost 4 million cannabis patients.
To learn more about the health benefits of cannabis, consider reading “Cannabis for Health: The Essential Guide for Using Cannabis for Total Wellness” by Mary Clifton.
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