Cannabis, or marijuana as it is commonly known as long been identified as a recreational drug. Yet, that is not the purpose of cannabis during ancient times when it was used as a form of medicine to treat chronic muscle spasms, nausea, pain, and more.
How can marijuana do this? One of the main ingredients discovered in marijuana is THC which is a powerful stimulator to brain receptors. As soon as THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol enters the body, it stimulates receptors in the brain to bring relief to common pains, headaches, nausea, and other body pains. Increased appetite in marijuana use is credited to THC.
CBD or cannabidiol is another active chemical found in marijuana that brings about health benefits to the body. This chemical is not as intoxicating as THC and has been found to treat epilepsy in children. A healing salve can also be derived from CBD when it is converted to oil. However, CBD needs further research before it can be deemed as truly beneficial.
With this brief background on medical marijuana, are there studies or research to show that it can benefit disorders such as anxiety, bipolar, depression, and fibromyalgia?
Medical marijuana and anxiety
Anxiety is a debilitating personality disorder that can literally stop an individual from performing even the simplest acts of daily living. People afflicted with anxiety suffer severe bouts of fear, worry, and distress. Sudden sensations of panic and terror are associated with anxiety attacks. Some of the serious physical manifestations of anxiety are insomnia, shortness of breath, sweaty and cold feet and hands, dry mouth, and heart palpitations.
There are several factors credited to cause anxiety. However, the chief cause remains unknown. Research studies suggest it may stem from changes happening in the brain brought about by stress in the immediate environment. Substance and alcohol addiction also lead to anxiety.
CBD or cannabidiol found in marijuana has been discovered to alleviate anxiety in studies involving both human and animals. A study that used marijuana to people who are then exposed to a test public speaking found them less anxious even when they were diagnosed as having social anxiety disorders.
The anxiolytic-like effect was credited to the activation of the brain’s 5-HT1A receptors by the CBD. This was proven in a study done in 2011 for laboratory rats. This might be an inconclusive test but more research has shown the positive effects of CBD in both human and animal trials.
Medical marijuana and depression
Depression is a recently added personality disorder to the list of mental conditions that may be helped by medical marijuana. Chronic stress has been discovered to be the main factor for depression.
The reduced quantities of chemical compounds in the brain known as endocannabinoids result in depression. The same studies that discovered this also found that THC, an active chemical in marijuana is the best remedy to combat depression.
Reduced quantities of endocannabinoids happen when an individual is suffering from chronic stress. The body normally produces this chemical but chronic stress can drastically cut their production. This leads to chronic stress and, left unchecked, results in depression.
A research study used marijuana cannabinoids in rats and found them to effectively restore their brain’s levels of endocannabinoids. The study concluded that the restoration could possibly alleviate some of the severe symptoms of depression.
When the endocannabinoid function in the brain is restored, it leads to potentially ease depression and stabilize moods. However, research has also found that higher and regular use of marijuana also leads to depression. In all, further studies have to be made to establish the correct dosage or whether it might be successfully used for depression.
Medical marijuana and fibromyalgia
There are mixed reviews for treating fibromyalgia with marijuana. There are research studies that back the pain-relieving effects of marijuana including fibromyalgia. However, a studies review done in 2016 sees insufficient results to back treatments that are marijuana-based for people afflicted with rheumatic diseases. One of these rheumatic diseases included is fibromyalgia.
It has been shown that women comprise the most number of people suffering from fibromyalgia. One study made a surprising finding when it discovered that pain in men is greatly relieved with marijuana than women.
Be that as it may, marijuana has been found to benefit people suffering from chronic nerve pain and muscle spasms. The nerve pain present in MS or multiple sclerosis has benefited with the use of marijuana. This could lead to the conclusion that marijuana can also ease the pain felt by people afflicted with fibromyalgia.
Only a medical doctor can determine if the patient with fibromyalgia can benefit from using marijuana. Until then, more studies have to be done to support the theory.
Marijuana and bipolar disorders
People with bipolar disorders experience extreme highs and lows emotionally. There is no middle ground for them. Bipolar can have manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes usually include the following:
- Feel rested even with little or no sleep
- Distracted mind
- Feeling of super confidence
- Unsettled thinking
- Feel powerful, gifted, and intelligent
The extreme end of the manic episode is the depressive episode. These are the usual symptoms:
- Sleeping almost all the time
- Gaining or losing weight
- Feeling sad every day and most of the day
Mood swings are part and parcel of bipolar disorder that can happen frequently in a week or a few times in a year. There are different bipolar disorders but the chief cause is still unknown.
What is surprising is a study that found marijuana use can mimic the effects of bipolar disorder. The study also found that marijuana by itself cannot lead to psychiatric disorders, per se. It can only mimic the symptoms of bipolar including schizophrenia.
This leads to the conclusion that marijuana is not the curative method for bipolar disorders. Mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medications are still the best chemical remedy for the disorder.
The bottom line
While more and more benefits are seen with the help of medical marijuana, using them in some disorders still needs more studies. There’s also the fact that not all states in the United States legally allow the use of them. State law, more research, and medical practitioners still need a lot of determinants to make medical marijuana a standard means of medication.