5 Lesser Known Benefits Of Marijuana According To Research

Researchers have only recently begun to understand the many complex ways that cannabinoids (chemicals unique to cannabis) interact with the body. Modern technology and the scientific method have allowed us to uncover more about marijuana than ever before. With that, comes a number of discoveries about the benefits of marijuana, from anti-anxiety to anti-cancer benefits. Some of them are well-documented, and some still hover on the forefront of medical research.

Here are five lesser known benefits of marijuana, just another drop in the big bucket of support needed to fight the stigma and myths that plague the marijuana industry.

CBD Has Shown Anti-Tumor Activity

It is becoming common knowledge that medical marijuana helps cancer patients quell the side effects of chemotherapy, but the scientific community is just starting to uncover all of the cancer-inhibiting effects that add to the benefits of marijuana. Preclinical trials, supported by the National Institutes of Health, document that CBD (Cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, has actually been shown to inhibit the progression of many types of cancer. These studies indicate that CBD induces programmed cancer cell death through a biological process called apoptosis (Singer 2015). Hooray for destroying cancer cells at the source!

Another study, this one conducted by the Research Institute at California Pacific Medical Center, declares that adding CBD to the current standard mixture of cancer-fighting drugs would be an ideal option, due to its low-toxicity levels and superpower growth reduction potential (McAllister, 2015). While cannabis is not a silver bullet cure for cancer, preclinical trials and studies are showing us that it may, in fact, inhibit certain tumors from spreading.

Emerging scientific evidence like this carries significant responsibility for the marijuana industry, with emerging cannabis dispensaries both consciously and unconsciously taking an almost-pharmaceutical role in treating ailments with cannabis. Some dispensaries have even gone as far as offering a marijuana delivery services to provide immediate access for medical patients who may not otherwise have reliable access to their medicine. This implication threatens the business model of the entire medical establishment. Cannabis grows naturally on this planet, and millions of years of plant evolution through natural selection is impossible to replicate in a laboratory. There is a lot more to gain than just getting high on marijuana. The way that this miracle plant is handled can change healthcare as we know it!

 

CBD Is An Antioxidant

CBD has been proven to be an antioxidant in numerous peer-reviewed journals (Pisanti, 2017) (El-Remessy,2006) ( McAllister, 2015).  Antioxidants are important because they play a crucial role in preventing the production of oxidants in the body. These oxidants, or “free radicals,” are the prime causes of neuro-degradation in the brain, as well as cell membrane damage throughout the body. Environmental pollutants like smog, cigarette smoke, and other carcinogens that we are exposed to all cause damage to the DNA in cells, which may lead to mutations and ultimately develop into tumors. That is why it is crucial to absorbing antioxidants from a plant based diet, or in this case, from cannabis.

THCv is an Appetite Suppressant

In contrast to the several cannabinoids that stimulate appetite, THCv is a cannabinoid that suppresses one’s appetite. Commonly found in African Sativa varieties of cannabis, this cannabinoid has also been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. This discovery makes the THCv cannabinoid promising for the treatment of diabetes, chronic liver disease, and metabolic syndrome (Izzo, 2009). THCv is characterized as being uplifting and energetic, contrary to the idea that all marijuana use causes laziness.

CBD is Neuroprotective

Marijuana does not kill brain cells. In fact, research shows that cannabidiol is a neuroprotective agent, a substance that preserves neuronal structure. This makes CBD an excellent alternative medicine for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s (Izzo, 2009). This is significant information because there is still a stigma attached to marijuana that leads people to believe that it lowers IQ, when in reality cannabinoids promote neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus (Jiang, 2005).

Medical Marijuana Lowers Opioid Abuse

A 2014 study found that “Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates” (Bachhuber, 2014). States with medical marijuana laws saw 25% fewer deaths from opioid overdose compared to states without legal access to marijuana.  Considering that CBD is a non-toxic analgesic (pain reliever) and anti-inflammatory agent, medical marijuana is a safe alternative to the opioid pain relievers that are causing a pandemic of overdose fatalities in the United States. There are no documented cases of overdose fatalities due to marijuana. Yet cannabis is still a schedule I drug under the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, under the same classification as heroine.

 

As we study the cannabis plant and our own bodies, we see how the endocannabinoid system modulates a wide range of physiological processes, including cancer cell proliferation, neuroplasticity, appetite, pain, and inflammation. After careful consideration, I feel that marijuana should not only be legalized in the United States, but also subsidized. The potential to treat illness is evident, and there is no logical reason to restrict its study and growth.

 

Citations

El-Remessy, Azza B. et al. “Neuroprotective and Blood-Retinal Barrier-Preserving Effects of Cannabidiol in Experimental Diabetes.” The American Journal of Pathology 168.1 (2006)

Izzo et al. Non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids: new therapeutic opportunities from an ancient herb. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences (2009)

Jiang, Wen et al. “Cannabinoids Promote Embryonic and Adult Hippocampus Neurogenesis and Produce Anxiolytic- and Antidepressant-like Effects.” Journal of Clinica Investigation 115.11 (2005)

Bachhuber, Marcus A. et al. “Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999–2010.” JAMA internal medicine174.10 (2014)

Massi, Paola et al. “Cannabidiol as Potential Anticancer Drug.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 75.2 (2013)

McAllister, Sean D., Liliana Soroceanu, and Pierre-Yves Desprez. “The Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids.” Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology: the official journal of the Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology 10.2 (2015)

Pisanti, Simona, et al. "Cannabidiol: State of the art and new challenges for therapeutic applications." Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2017).

Reddy, Doodipala Samba, and Victoria Golub. “The Pharmacological Basis of Cannabis Therapy for Epilepsy. “Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2016).

Singer, E et al. “Reactive Oxygen Species-Mediated Therapeutic Response and Resistance in Glioblastoma.” Cell Death & Disease 6.1 (2015)