In the early 1990s, scientists discovered an ancient Siberian mummy buried with remnants of cannabis pollen. They later concluded that she died of breast cancer – and took weed to treat it. The find proved that humans have been using marijuana as medicine for at least 2,500 years.
We know a lot more about cannabis and its medical properties now than that anonymous woman knew in her lifetime. And we know it is one of the most beneficial plants available to man. But what exactly can it treat?
To answer that question, here is a non-exclusive list of some of the most common medical uses for marijuana.
There is growing evidence cannabis kills cancerous tumors, but it is also a well-established therapy for the nausea, vomiting, and pain that can accompany chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In fact, this was one of the first reasons scientists became interested in medical weed during the late 20th century.
HIV and AIDS
There was a time, not long ago, when a diagnosis of HIV meant certain death. These days, a raft of potent medications make it possible for people with the virus to lead full lives. Marijuana is an important part of that package. AIDS tends to cause wasting, and weed is known to spur the munchies, so it has become a critical tool in fighting dangerous weight loss, among other symptoms.
Many people with seizure disorders benefit from medicinal cannabis. Scientists still aren’t entirely sure why, but a chemical in pot known as CBD is thought to quiet over-activity in the brain that may lead to convulsions. CBD is especially helpful in treating pediatric epilepsy and has contributed to the explosion of MMJ laws across the country.
Weed is known to alleviate the pain and muscle spasms of multiple sclerosis. For this reason, MS is one of the conditions most commonly covered by states’ MMJ laws. It’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease with no know cure, and while marijuana won’t make it go away, many patients find that it helps substantially.
There is still debate over whether cannabis is effective in treating chronic pain. Large numbers of patients report that it does just that, but some medical experts are still skeptical. States have slowly been adding pain to their lists of qualifying conditions, and it is now the most common reason patients use the drug.
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that afflicts the bowels and digestive tract. It’s relatively common, it’s painful, and it makes life miserable for many of the people who have it. Recent studies have found that weed can send Crohn’s into remission, improve appetite, and counter insomnia without producing adverse effects.
There are numerous mental illnesses that might benefit from medical pot, but Tourette’s has the most science going for it. A neuropsychiatric disorder, it has aspects of both neurological and psychiatric conditions. A series of studies has demonstrated that weed reduces tics and cuts down on obsessive-compulsive behaviors without generating negative side effects.