The legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana is changing the way people view this happy plant. As it becomes more mainstream, the discussion about the positive effects of cannabis use is also on the rise. Having said this, after many decades of prohibition, cannabis still carries a bad reputation. As a result, the positive effects of cannabis on the brain are still unknown to many. This article will dig deeper into the positive effects of cannabis use for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
Ancient Societies Knew About the Positive Effects of Cannabis on the Brain
The history of cannabis dates back centuries. Long before modern science deemed it a drug, human societies turned to this plant for many reasons. Numerous historical findings prove that cannabis was commonly used for clothing, paper, and rope material in ancient societies. But people were not only using the plant for its fibers: it played an essential role in religious ceremonies, therapeutical events, and, of course, for recreational use too.
Records show that medical marijuana was used in ancient China over 5,000 years ago. Atharva Veda, an essential Hindu faith script written around 1,000 BCE, mentions cannabis as one of the five sacred plants. Marijuana also played an important role in ancient India for medicinal and religious practices. Ancient Egyptian texts mentioned cannabis as a therapeutic relief for many ailments, and the ancient Greek society also used marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Although several prohibitions and restrictive legislations over the past century have painted marijuana negatively, there is no denying the history of the human connection with this magical plant. Thankfully, cannabis laws have been changing rapidly around the world in recent years. Scientists and the medical community are now opening their eyes to something that ancient societies were well aware of: there are plenty of positive effects of cannabis use.
The Endocannabinoid System
Our bodies (and other mammals’) react to cannabis because of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex system present in mammals’ bodies is made of neurotransmitters that interact with cannabinoids – the compounds found in marijuana. There are two primary receptors detected by science and present in the central and peripheral nervous systems: CB1 and CB2.
The most renowned cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). However, cannabis has hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes that interact with our cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are responsible for regulating our mood, memory, emotions, pain, sleep, appetite, immune system, stress response, and more. When someone consumes cannabis, the cannabinoids trigger a reaction to the receptors. These reactions can include making you feel “high”, relaxed, sleepy, hungry, and much more.
Finding a cannabis strain with the perfect balance of THC, CBD, and terpenes depends a lot on how your receptors react to each substance and can be highly particular for each individual. Although cannabis may not cure disease, it can certainly ease pain, reduce stress, and act as an accomplice to traditional treatments so that patients can manage their symptoms and live happier lives.
Known Positive Effects of Marijuana Use
Understanding how cannabinoids interact with the human body is crucial. It is imperative to note that using cannabis is not recommended for people under the age of 21, with a family history of schizophrenia, or during pregnancy.
Pain Relief and Management
Cannabis is widely known for its sedative effect. Some potent strains that are highly Indica-dominant can give you a body-numbing sensation, which can be great for pain management. Of course, cannabis is not recommended to treat pain caused by an injury or a treatable condition. However, it can be beneficial to manage chronic pain in substitution to opioids, which can cause addiction, extreme constipation, and even death.
Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Management
Cannabinoids interact with receptors that are responsible for regulating mood, memory, and stress response. This fact shows that marijuana can be beneficial in managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Strains with mind soothing effects and high levels of CBD can come in handy, while Sativa-dominant buds can help you tackle the fatigue that comes with depression.
Because cannabis can also help the mind deal with a stressful memory, it is widely used to manage PTSD symptoms. However, it is fundamental to consult with a medical practitioner before smoking a joint to treat a psychological condition. You should get a precise prescription because using the wrong strain can cause the opposite effect.
Increasing the Appetite and Relieving Nausea
This benefit is not only about the “munchies” – that indescribable hunger you feel after consuming cannabis. It is much more than that. The ECS controls our appetite, and cannabinoids can decrease the sensation of nausea in neurotransmissions. Cannabis can be a supportive therapeutic relief for cancer patients going through chemotherapy dealing with nausea and appetite loss.
There are two approved medications elaborated with synthetic cannabinoids for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). Nabilone and dronabinol are very useful when treating the overpowering symptoms of CINV. Using cannabis to alleviate nausea must be done carefully because, in high dosages, the effects can be quite the opposite.
Other Conditions and Symptoms
People who suffer from conditions with an extreme inflammation response, such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and neuropathic pain, also report relief with marijuana. Cannabinoids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and although they cannot replace traditional treatments, they can certainly support a better life quality.
Youngsters who suffer from pediatric seizure disorders and epilepsies can also benefit from cannabis use. Parents must get a prescription from a certified neurologist and use low THC products such as oils or tinctures. Many people have also reported relief for muscle control problems using cannabis, which may help Parkinson’s disease and other conditions.
Studies Are Scarce, and Moderation is Key
After a century of prohibition in the US and severe restrictions in numerous countries, studies and clinical research analyzing the positive effects of cannabis on the brain are still rare. The illegal state of marijuana and the stigmatization that comes with it are highly responsible for the lack of scientific research on the topic. Fortunately, as more studies are conducted, more evidence is being found to support the benefits of cannabis.
Like all the best things in life though, moderation is key. So if you are a novice consumer, we advise you to take things slow, try small amounts and see what works for you. If you’re searching for an alternative treatment to a health condition, make sure you consult your doctor. Only a healthcare practitioner can evaluate your symptoms and tell if you’re okay to become a medical marijuana patient. And if you’re a commercial grower, keep an eye out for the latest studies. The more people that realize just how beneficial this plant can be, the bigger your business will grow.