As the “green wave” of legalization rolls across California and the rest of the United States, marijuana has received no end of attention for its recreational properties. But what about medical marijuana? Is there any science backing the use of medicinal cannabis for everyday symptoms and conditions?
As it turns out, there’s probably a great deal more hard science supporting cannabis medical uses than you might be aware of. Many of us regularly use medical marijuana to manage pain, depression, arthritis, PTSD, anxiety, or insomnia: And all of the aforementioned conditions are being medically researched for treatment with medical marijuana.
If you’re considering trying medical marijuana, here’s a look at how it might help support your overall health and wellness, complete with pointers and tips to help you get the very most out of this potentially revolutionary plant medicine.
Medical Marijuana Treatment: How It Works
If you follow our cannabis blog, you may have heard about some of the research supporting cannabis medical uses. As studies suggest, cannabis may be helpful in addressing chronic pain, anxiety and stress, and even have beneficial effects on how we sleep!
How does the marijuana plant impart such powerful medical effects? Many of them come courtesy of the cannabinoids, a family of over 150 plant-based compounds that partner with the body to impart some truly impactful ways. The two major cannabinoids are called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the compound most directly responsible for the cannabis plant’s distinctive “high,” but that’s not all it does. THC has been shown to help diminish pain, in part due to its natural anti-inflammatory action. And that euphoric psychoactivity exerts medical benefits, too. It turns out that euphoria has a significant effect on our experience of pain.
Beyond this, THC can help reduce insomnia, and it’s particularly useful for soothing nausea and stimulating the appetites of those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
What about CBD? While CBD doesn’t deliver an intoxicating high, it’s currently being researched for an impressive number of effects. These include a demonstrated ability to reduce anxiety and stress.
Like THC, CBD has been shown to fight inflammation and pain. And its relative lack of psychoactivity—sometimes described as a very gentle “buzz”—makes CBD particularly suitable for pediatric use, which is particularly useful in the fight against epilepsy and other disorders. In fact, it’s the key active ingredient in Epidiolex®, a drug used to combat seizures (and the first cannabis-based drug to win approval from the FDA).
Beyond this, CBD is being studied in hopes it might treat notoriously difficult conditions such as multiple sclerosis. On top of this, a review of CBD studies found that it might even help people reduce addictive cravings.
Both THC and CBD interface with an extensive bodily network called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). While it was only first identified in the past thirty years, the ECS is believed by many clinicians to be one of our body’s most important regulatory networks.
So, it’s safe to say that medical marijuana helps people cope with a variety of conditions. That said, its efficacy varies from person to person. Effectiveness also depends on the dosage amount, method of consumption and other factors.
At Mankind Dispensary, we find our customers use medicinal marijuana for many of the issues we named above, along with PTSD, chronic pain, insomnia, nausea, appetite loss, and ADHD. In fact, one product—Jayden’s Juice Tinctures—was even developed by a father to help his child with symptoms of autism and epilepsy!
Cannabis Medical Uses: What Is a Consumption Method?
There are many ways to take cannabis beyond just smoking it, and we refer to them generally as consumption methods. Each consumption method has its pros and cons. For instance, smoking and vaping allow you to feel the effects quickly, but they also fade faster than with other methods of administration. Plus, these two methods may not be ideal for those with asthma or other respiratory issues.
Then there are cannabis-infused edibles. Often taking the form of sweet baked goods or other treats, they deliver a powerful and long-lasting dose of cannabinoids. However, the onset—or time until activation—can be as long as two hours or even more. That’s one reason we always counsel our customers to wait at least two hours before taking a second dose of an edible. In the same vein, consuming too much marijuana can lead to side effects such as anxiety, lethargy, or dry mouth. Start with smaller doses to test your tolerance.
One “middle ground” solution we’re particularly fond of is using cannabis tinctures. Especially when placed under the tongue for faster absorption, these cannabis drops are an excellent way to take advantage of medical marijuana, find your ideal dose, and save money overall.
What are the best ways to consume cannabis?
- Cannabis Tinctures: Especially good for flare-ups of pain that call for quick relief. Take the drops under your tongue for quick effects that last anywhere from roughly 90 minutes to a few hours. Drop-by-drop dosing allows you to calibrate your minimum effective dose so you don’t spend money unnecessarily. Tinctures are low-calorie, discreet, and have long shelf lives. You can also use tincture drops to infuse edibles and cannabis topicals.
- Cannabis Topicals and Ointments: These balms and lotions are good for muscular pain. In general, you won’t experience a high. But read the label carefully to be sure.
- Cannabis Edibles, pills and capsules: Particularly good for insomnia, spasms, pain relief and nausea. Like tinctures, edibles are discreet and convenient. They do take longer to kick in but can last up to 6 hours, in some cases even longer. They’re great choices for insomnia due to the longer-lasting effects. But because of the delay in feeling the effects, it can be hard to experiment with dosage amounts. And due to their higher calorie count, edibles may not be the best choice for those on diets.
- Smoking cannabis flower: Good when quick relief is needed and no lung and respiratory issues are in play. However, many people taking medical marijuana avoid smoking because of the potential for respiratory irritation.
- Vaping marijuana: Also great for quick relief. Because vaporizers emit a cooling mist, they’re a great choice for those who want fast relief but may be sensitive to smoke.
Why Do Doctors Prescribe Medical Marijuana?
While we’re passionate about providing exceptional customer care, the staff at Mankind Dispensary aren’t doctors. So while we can make product recommendations based on the symptoms you describe, you should still get expert, professional opinions. Whether you are considering medical marijuana, speak with your healthcare provider as well. Doctors and caretakers take into account your medical history and any other medications you’re taking. That’s important because medical marijuana can interact with other medications and cause unexpected side effects.
Your doctors can recommend which form of marijuana you should use—if you should smoke it, eat it, apply it to your skin, inhale it or place a few drops under your tongue. So be sure to speak to your doctor if you’re a patient looking to add medical cannabis to your treatment plan.
Doctors may prescribe medical marijuana for a variety of conditions and symptoms, for example:
- Chronic pain
- Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
- Tight muscles (such as those in people with multiple sclerosis)
- Lack of appetite
With medicinal marijuana, the focus is on treating or relieving symptoms rather than on achieving a high. That’s why tinctures and edibles are so popular.
Cannabis medicinal uses: What is medical cannabis best for?
Depression, insomnia, pain, arthritis and other conditions plague many people. Fortunately, marijuana can help in mild, moderate and severe cases. Delivery is a fantastic option, especially when you’re physically unable to go to a store. Speak with your doctor and store sales staff about how to consume your marijuana and the specific products to use. Medical marijuana has the potential to transform your life like it has for many other people. And here’s something to consider: You may not even have to leave home.
Many people who take marijuana for arthritis and other conditions prefer their medical marijuana be delivered. That way, they don’t have to put themselves through physical pain or emotional stress to get to a store. That’s a big reason Mankind Dispensary offers delivery services. Alternatively, customers can place online orders for in-store pickup and skip the lines.
Of course, if you have questions about medicinal marijuana, you may prefer to come in person. Please do! Our staffers are happy to assist you.