6 Diseases Medical Marijuana Is Used To Treat
Note: The Sanctuary Wellness Institute does not sell any marijuana products or CBD products
Epilepsy is a disease where nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed causing uncontrollable twitches in the legs or arms, more commonly known as seizures. Reports show that people with Epilepsy have claimed medical marijuana has helped to relieve symptoms of their epilepsy (4).
In the brain, there is a signaling system where small molecules called ligands to bind to cannabinoid receptors serving as messengers. Ligands enable cells to control the strength of input between nerve cells (5). Researchers from a study published in the Journal of Epilepsy Research 2017 suggest that CBD has anticonvulsant (anti-siezure) effects. CBD is thought to enhance the control input between nerve cells which may help to prevent or decrease the severity of seizures (6).
2. Gastrointestinal Disorders
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s’s Disease and colitis all fall under the classification of gastrointestinal disorders. Symptoms of these conditions include abdominal pain, cramping, inflammation of the lining of the large and/or small intestine, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Research has demonstrated that activating the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors can help improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract. The gut is abudant in endocannabinoid receptors, and so exogenous cannabinoids can help stimulate these receptors, causing a suppression in gastrointestinal motility, decreasing overstimulated bowels and aiding in healing epithelial tissue. Cannabinoids can also help to decrease inflammation, which plays a key role in the progression of gastrointestinal conditions (7).
3. Parkinson Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, resulting in slowed movements, tremors and muscle rigidity. Some conventional medicines are available to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s. But for now, there is no cure.
Within areas of the brain responsible for motor function, cannabinoid and dopamine systems regulate motor function by modulating the transmission between brain cells.
The consumption of medical marijuana has been reported to improve overall symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as reducing pain, tremors, and stiffness (8). Although the research looking at marijuana and Parkinson’s disease is still in its preliminary stages, it is currently hypothesized that cannabinoids can help by improving the transmission between nerve cells, alleviating symptoms of the disease (9). The ability of cannabinoids to decrease pain and inflammation (particularly CBD) could also help to improve symptoms.
4. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Patients suffering from multiple sclerosis experience inflammation, a loss of coordination and weakness in the muscles. As the disease progresses, patients can become permanently disabled and in a small number of cases, they can die directly from this disease.
Research on medical marijuana concluded that, “smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis and provide some benefit beyond currently prescribed treatment” (10). A survey indicated nearly one in two multiple sclerosis patients use medical marijuana therapeutically (11). Activating cannabinoid receptors may also be neuroprotective (12). Although more research needs to be done, the plethora of successful anecdotal reports speak for themselves.
Gliomas are very aggressive brain tumors. Gliomas typically terminal and cause death within one or two years following diagnosis. With no reliable cure and treatments options, providing symptomatic relief tends to be the only viable course of action.
Researchers from Madrid’s Complutense University were the first to report delta-9-THC induced the death of glioma cells in culture (13). Further investigations reported that the administration of both THC and a synthetic cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2 induced significant regression of malignant gliomas (14). Other studies verified that cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits the growth of glioma cells lines in a dose-dependent manner (15).
6. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder resulting in the progressive loss of learned behaviors and memory. There are no proven treatments or medications available to treat symptoms currently. Patients are likely to experience agitation, appetite loss, and depression amongst the primary symptoms of cognitive degeneration.
Preclinical studies have demonstrated the ability of cannabinoids to prevent neuronal cell death (16). Investigators who have written in the British Journal of Pharmacology concluded that cannabinoids help via neuroprotection and reducing neuroinflammation. Cannabinoids also may help Alzheimer’s patients by supporting the brain’s internal repair mechanisms which upregulate neurogenesis – the growth of new brain cells (17).
Medical marijuana seems to be both effective and safe for treating a range of diseases. Although this research is still in its infancy, medical marijuana seems to be a promising and viable alternative to conventional medication for some conditions.
Jake Peter received his journalism degree from Emerson College and has been writing content for the Sanctuary Wellness Institute since 2021. He is passionate about all things cannabis.