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7 Benefits of Marijuana, Say Doctors

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Six medical reasons why marijuana can be beneficial, according to experts.

The number of people turning to marijuana for medical reasons is growing and with good reason. There's been proven benefits to using marijuana such as preventing seizures in patients with autism, which is something CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been reporting on for several years. In addition, there's several other medical benefits and Eat This, Not That! Health talked to doctors who explained how beneficial marijuana can be for some people. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1. How THC and CBD Compounds are Beneficial

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM, explains, "It is important to note that the THC compound in marijuana and the CBD compound in hemp have different properties. The healing properties of these compounds are now widely used for multiple health conditions. But the reasons cannabinoids are effective are less often discussed, and they have to do with endocannabinoids that are created within your body naturally. Understanding how these compounds work could shed light on the efficacy of those from plants. There are several health benefits of cannabinoid compounds." That said, in order to responsibly use marijuana for medicinal purposes, please consult with a doctor, know how to legally obtain marijuana and familiarize yourself with what the laws are regarding its use and purchase.

2. Relief From Stress

"The calming effects of cannabinoid compounds can prove helpful for easing anxiety and reducing stress," Dr. Lam says.

"THC and CBD are two main cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant species. Cannabis, or marijuana and hemp, belong to this species. THC and CBD work similarly to endocannabinoids present in your body. They interact with CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors located throughout your body to provide stress relief.Your body is equipped with a natural stress-fighting mechanism referred to as the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response System. It is a network of various organs and six circuits, including the Inflammation circuit, which work together to deal with stress. When your body experiences a stressful situation, the NEM signals your adrenal glands for secretion of the anti-stress hormone cortisol to help deal with stress. When stress is constant, the adrenal glands are propelled to secrete more cortisol. This makes your adrenal glands overburdened. As a result, your body is unable to secrete adequate cortisol due to adrenal fatigue, which reduces your body's natural stress-fighting ability."

3. Pain Management

Dr. Kristina Hendija states, "Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans every day, and costs hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment and loss of productivity. The current accepted treatment methods are often risky and expensive. With this in mind, medical marijuana may stand as an attractive alternative to managing chronic pain in many individuals. Though some may be concerned about the possible effects of smoke inhalation, vaporized THC yields equal or greater results, often mimicking IV patient-controlled analgesics in a hospital setting."

4. Sleep Aid

"As a sedative and muscle relaxant, medical marijuana may help people suffering from insomnia," Dr. Hendija says.

"Many people suffer from sleeping disorders and cannabis helps to restore a natural sleep cycle since it brings you to a deeper sleep state. However, caution should be taken long term as reliance on marijuana as a sleep aid can end up impairing the sleep cycle in the long term."

5. Anxiety Relief

According to Dr. Hendija, "Cannabinoid receptors are present in all the brain regions responsible for processing anxiety and stress. Use of medical marijuana helps to dampen the severity that stressful events have on an individual. It helps form a buffer system against overwhelming emotional responses while also modulating the networks balancing distress and well-being. It should be known, however, that long term marijuana use with subsequent withdrawal can result in temporarily reduced dopamine levels." 

6. Irritable Bowel Disease

Dr. Tom Ingegno DACM, MSOM, LAC explains, "Irritable bowel has several symptoms like constipation and/or diarrhea, bloating, intestinal pain that may be rooted in an inflammatory response to certain foods, or an autoimmune disorder.  CB1 receptors which several cannabinoids can bind line the large intestine.  When cannabis is consumed it activates these receptors which reduces inflammation helping with the pain and bloating and it's theorized that these receptors play a role in regulating the production of the mucus lining, allowing for the intestinal wall to coat and repair itself."

7. Reduces Inflammation

According to Dr. Lam, "Cannabinoids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in your brain. Research suggests that early activation of the CB1 receptors can significantly help reduce the risk of colon inflammation. Your gut produces happy hormone serotonin. Inflammation in the gut can disrupt serotonin secretion which can lead to depression. Dealing with such inflammation from an early stage may help prevent depression.

Cannabinoids can help fight inflammation by down regulating chemokine and pro-inflammatory cytokines while up regulating the T-cells. Research shows that supplementing exogenous cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, or using enzymes which break down these compounds can significantly reduce inflammation. Therefore, cannabinoids can be considered a new class of anti-inflammatory compounds which can be used in autoimmune or inflammatory conditions which are triggered by activated T cells."

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