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Benefits of Marijuana

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BENEFITS OF MARIJUANA

What are the benefits of marijuana? Despite the fact that this topic is considered controversial. Yet the need to educate ourselves about the health benefits of this herb is paramount.

Introduction

Nature has a prominent feature that is providing balance to the functionalities of the earth. Man, while trying to alter the course of nature’s works often leads to chaos. One of nature’s wonders is the defence mechanisms plants and organisms exhibit to protect themselves against predators. It might interest you to know that some of these plants’ defence mechanisms can be lethal as well as beneficial to humans, depending on its usage.

One of such plants is the Cannabis sativa popularly known as “Marijuana” or “weed” among other names, and it also has two other variants namely “Cannabis sativa forma indica” and “Cannabis ruderalis”. The cannabis plant has the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as its defence mechanism because the effects of the THC on animals include intoxication, sickness, mental alteration, etc., and as such, animals avoid the plant. On the contrary, humans do not.

Brief History of Marijuana

Marijuana is a psychoactive substance gotten from cannabis plant and has medicinal benefits, but it is mostly used socially for recreational purposes. Marijuana is made up of 483 compounds.

However, the most psychoactive part of the plant is known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and it also contains 65 types of cannabinoids.

Marijuana is native to both the Central and South Asian parts of the Asian continents and had more uses than just a psychoactive substance because it was discovered that in the Neolithic era, Marijuana was used to make ropes and fabrics. There is no clear indication as to when the plant was first used with regards to its psychoactive properties.

Ancient Assyrians with the help of the Aryans discovered the psychoactive characteristic of Marijuana when they used it in religious ceremonies; it was referred to as “Qunubu” which means “way to produce smoke”. The Assyrians were not the only ones who got introduced to the psychoactive substance by the Aryans, the Dacians, Scythian, and Thracians also got to know about Marijuana, when marijuana flowers were burnt to induce trance.

Consumption and Perceived Notions of Marijuana

Apart from using it for medical and recreational purposes, it is also used for spiritual purposes. In times past, Marijuana was revered and treated as a sacred item in different religions.

There have been several references in historical manuscripts, especially in Greek mythology to Marijuana, and how it killed sorrow and anguish. Herodotus had things to write about Scythian practices, including how they used Marijuana for various rites, cleansing, and passage.

In the modern world, the religious use of Marijuana is prominent among members of the Rastafari movement who are spiritually dependent on the Marijuana, as it aids meditation, thus, has become a sacramental aspect of the religion.

rastari

Smoking pipes used by the Qalandars and found in Ethiopia were used for smoking Marijuana as far back as AD 1320. Between 1836 and 1840, while Jacques-Joseph Moreau was travelling in the Middle East and North Africa, he wrote about the effects Marijuana use had on human psychology.

Marijuana was introduced to Britain in 1842 when a physician named William Brooke O’Shaughnessy brought some Cannabis with him from Bengal where he worked as a medical officer.

Eventual Abuse and Ostracization of Marijuana

Soon, people began to abuse Marijuana, and this resulted in it getting banned in different places including the United States, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Jamaica, New Zealand, and Canada, between 1840 and 1923.

However, some states in the US made it only legal to be used exclusively for scientific and medical purposes, and other countries began to follow suit, for example, the Dutch government in 1972 categorised drugs into two: Less dangerous category and More perilous category, hence they classified Marijuana as a less dangerous drug.

In December 2013, the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica signed into law, the legalisation of recreational cannabis, and this put Uruguay at the number one spot as the first country in the modern age to legalise the use of Marijuana. And in 2014, Uruguay also made it legal for people to grow up to 6 cannabis plants in their homes.

According to the United Nations’ (UN) “World Drug Report”, they were of the opinion that in 2010, Marijuana had become the world’s most consumed, trafficked, and produced drug in the world. There was also a forecast that by 2015, the number of Marijuana users on the global scale would increase from 128 to about 238 million people. Apparently, many countries are now producing Marijuana, including Canada, Afghanistan, Colombia, China, India, Mexico, Lebanon, Jamaica, Netherlands, Morocco, Paraguay, Spain, Pakistan, United States, Turkey, Thailand, among others.

Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?

When staunch parents try to dissuade their children from the use of marijuana, they point fingers at mentally unstable people who roam the streets and claim that the cause of their illness is due to the excessive use (abuse) of drugs. Which brings us to this question: Is there a correlation between smoking marijuana and mental illness? Or is it a mere rumour? If there’s a direct correlation, how can it be managed?

brain


Scientists have initiated various research on animals, and the results are becoming increasingly convincing that exposure to THC before birth, soon after birth, and sometimes, during adolescence, causes long-term changes in the brain. This is seen in problems experienced during learning and some other tasks given to the correspondents.

The research began with rats at first with the results showing that when an adolescent rat is exposed to THC, there’s a high probability of dependence, and has a biphasic effect on locomotor activity. However,  a more careful study of the human brain structure has revealed varying results.

Results

One study shows that there is a change in connectivity and a significant reduction in the capability of the brain. For example, the memory, control of impulsive actions, and learning a new activity, in comparison with those who do not consume marijuana, shows reduced functionality.

Another study, on the other hand, has revealed that there’s no significant structural difference between the structure of those who consume and those who do not. A study of about 4000 young adults- following them closely for about 25 years till they attained adulthood, showed that over time, exposure to marijuana did not affect their cognitive ability.

To ensure there was an accurate and objective study, the effect accounted for demographic factors, psychiatric states, etc. Although, lower performance on verbal tests was recorded.

Scientists and medical experts have initiated similar studies on this subject, and the result does not support a causal relationship between the use of marijuana and reduction in Intelligence Quotient (IQ). At worst, the only significant decline noticed is in the ability to take oral tests. These studies are inconclusive as they did not correctly account for genetics, family, environmental factors, etc.

Benefits of Marijuana to Humans

Marijuana has many use cases, and many times, some of its medical benefits get exaggerated by supporters of Marijuana legalisation. However, there have been medical findings carried out that showed that there are indeed legitimate uses of Marijuana in the pharmaceutical sector, as the plant contains medicinal compounds that are beneficial to the human health. There are two primary chemical compounds of Marijuana that are thought by researchers to have medical applications to humans, and the two chemical compounds are:

Cannabidiol (CBD)

This chemical compound is the part of Marijuana that is responsible for having effects on the brain without causing any form of intoxication.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC can relieve pains, while also being primarily responsible for intoxication.

While Marijuana has medical values, it does not rule out the fact that it is harmful, as an abuse of Marijuana can be detrimental to human health. According to various findings, it has been discovered that a chronic addiction to Marijuana can cause multiple impairments of human abilities including memory loss, impaired learning, reduced processing speed, etc. To this end, more studies are still being carried out. However, here are some medical benefits of using Marijuana:

benefits of marijuana

Muscle Spasms

An international medical association that conducts academics, Sciences, Engineering and Medicine researches are of the opinion that Marijuana can help muscle spasms as a result of multiple sclerosis, and other forms of muscle spasms.

In some cases, Marijuana was used to treat cases of diaphragm spasms which could not be handled by different types of prescription drugs and medications.

Chronic Pain

Further researches by the same international medical association, also proved that Marijuana has essential chemical compounds that are effective in the treatment of chronic pain.

Lung Improvement

There is a common misconception that Marijuana smoke inhalation is dangerous for the lungs; this is entirely not true unless of course, you are also a tobacco smoker. According to a publication by a medical association in the US, after much research, it was noted that contrary to public opinion Marijuana had no adverse effect on the lung function, but rather increased the capacity of the lung. In their bid to look for the risk involved in smoking Marijuana as regards the lung, some young adults were tested with tobacco and marijuana, and in no time the tobacco smokers’ lung health began to deteriorate, while the Marijuana smokers’ lungs showed signs of improved lung capacity. Nevertheless, if you smoke marijuana often, you should detox from time to time.

Control Epileptic Seizures

Medical research has shown that the cannabidiol content of Marijuana can be used to treat epileptic people; however, more study is still being carried out to make this more useful.

Treatment of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that is responsible for an increase in the pressure of the eyeball, which can damage the optic nerve, thereby resulting in loss of vision. A study carried out by the National Eye Institute indicates that smoking Marijuana could lower intraocular pressure (IOP). However, it is said that the drop in intraocular pressure only lasts a few hours. Researchers are working to create compounds that are Marijuana-based to lengthen the effects on intraocular pressure.

The decrease of the Symptoms of Dravet’s Syndrome

While some agencies and medical institutions do not approve the use of Marijuana for the treatment of Dravet’s syndrome, there have been tests carried out using a Marijuana strain that had a high concentration of cannabidiol, and a low percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol. In one of the tests, a child who used to have about 300 seizures in a week had one seizure every seven days after using the Marijuana strain. The same analysis was carried out on forty other children and got the same results.

Decrease Anxiety

Anxiety is a medical condition which if not treated, can lead to a deterioration of mental health, and physical health in the long run. Researchers have discovered that low doses of the tetrahydrocannabinol chemical compound found in Marijuana are capable of reducing anxiety, by helping people with anxiety relax.

However, it is essential to know where the balance is, as a high dose of tetrahydrocannabinol can heighten anxiety.

Ease the Pains of Multiple Sclerosis

A study was carried out by Jody Corey-Bloom, on a significant number of multiple sclerosis patients who always experienced painful contractions, after different treatments were carried out on them to no avail, it was a different story after they smoked Marijuana, as they suffered fewer pains.

The tetrahydrocannabinol present in Marijuana can attach itself to receptors found in the muscles and nerves, hence relieving the pain.

Relief from Arthritis

Marijuana can enhance sleep, reduce inflammation, and eliminate pains. In 2011, after conducting thorough research, some researchers concluded that Marijuana could relieve people of the pain and discomfort caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is one infection whose treatment comes with harsh side effects, including nausea, fatigue, depression, muscle aches, and loss of appetite. However in 2006, after a study carried out by a group of European researchers indicated that while treating Hepatitis C patients. About 86% of the patients that used Marijuana was reported to have gone through their Hepatitis C therapy entirely, and the rest who did not use Marijuana could not complete the treatment as the side-effects were harsh on them.

Parkinson’s Disease

According to the results of research carried out in Israel, it has been discovered that Marijuana can soothe the tremors, and reduce the pain experienced by people who have Parkinson’s disease. In addition to these, more treatment with Marijuana showed improvement in sleep and slept patterns for the patients, and there was also an improvement in the patients’ motor skills.

The Israeli government is a strong supporter of the use of Marijuana for medical purposes and research, and as such, has legalised the use of Marijuana for multiple conditions.

Reduction of Pain and Nausea as a Result of Chemotherapy

Cancer patients going through chemotherapy usually suffer a loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea, which if not attended to can result in more health complications. Medical Marijuana has been known to be an active drug for people undergoing chemo. Marijuana can minimise the side effects associated with chemotherapy. In addition to this, various cannabinoid drugs also contain tetrahydrocannabinol that is FDA-approved, and also used for the same purposes.

Marijuana apart from being used for its medicinal values. It is most times used because of the effects it creates mentally and physically; the user can result in a feeling of euphoria, a variance in perception, increased appetite, etc. Marijuana can be taken in different ways, including smoking (pipes, hookah, and paper joints), vaporiser, edibles, applying to the skin via a mixture of Marijuana with a cream, lotion or oil, etc.


How can I Prepare Marijuana

When it comes to cannabis consumption, the “how it’s consumed” is as important as the product, flower or strain itself. The three basic and well-known methods of consuming Marijuana are inhalation, oral and topical.

Marijuana is prepared in different ways, with various applications and potency. Here are some ideas to prepare marijuana.

Kief

A powdered form of the pot, which gets sifted from the flowers, and leaves of the cannabis plants. It is either consumed in its powder form or used in producing cakes.

Dried flower Buds (Marijuana)

This is composed of dried leaves, flowers and stem of the cannabis plant; it is from this material that all the other preparations are gotten from.

Hashish

This is basically compressing kief into a concentrate (hashish) either by a method of pollen press or hand-rolled.

Hash Oil

It is obtained from the cannabis plant using the method of solvent extraction, which then transforms into a viscous substance, and it usually contains a high volume of psychoactive chemical compounds.

Tincture

Extracted from the cannabis plant using grain alcohol or other high-proof spirits.

Infusion

Marijuana can be infused in many ways, as it can be introduced into different non-volatile solvents after the mixture, pressure and filtration are applied to soak the oils from the plant into the solution correctly.

Final thoughts

The benefits of marijuana are numerous. Indeed Marijuana has a lot of benefits for both humans and dogs. However, according to research studies, dogs are said to have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain as opposed to humans and it has been suggested that “dogs” may be more susceptible to the toxic effects compared to humans. Follow this link for more details.


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