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The cannabis plant contains more than 400 individual chemicals -marijuana's action in the brain and body is in many ways a mystery.
The vast majority of studies on the drug have examined potential
harm, as opposed to potential benefits. Even so, some medical uses
are widely accepted and others are the subject of serious research.
Here's a look at some potential uses of marijuana as medicine.
1. Epilepsy More than 100 families have moved to Colorado to
access "Charlotte's Web," a cannabis strain that in
some epileptic children seems to dramatically reduce seizures.
Taken as an oil, the medicine is high in a chemical called CBD
and low in THC, the component that makes people "high."
2. Concussion NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league
is following the work of Israeli researchers who are exploring
cannabis as a potential treatment for traumatic brain injury. In
2003, along with two colleagues, Nobel laureate Julius Axelrod,
an American, obtained a patent on the drug for its antiinflammatory and neuroprotective properties.
3. Alzheimer's disease In studies of rats, marijuana helps stave
off memory problems and Alzheimer's-like brain changes. A
leading researcher said the drug's iffy legal status has held up
further research.
4. Bipolar disorder A small study at Harvard found that
marijuana seems to stabilize the brains of people who suffer
from bipolar disorder. Some studies show the drug actually
raises the risk of developing mental illness, but those findings
are controversial.
5. Pain In the United States, pain is the most common condition
for which medical cannabis is taken. Studies show the drug is
especially effective against neuropathic pain, a type of pain
involving nerve damage. Marijuana is less habit-forming than
opiate drugs and carries virtually no risk of a fatal overdose.
6. Multiple sclerosis Sativex, a pharmaceutical version of
cannabis, is approved in 25 countries as a treatment for painful
muscle spasms arising from multiple sclerosis.
7. Nausea The munchies are no joke. Marijuana is sometimes
prescribed to stop nausea or induce appetite in people who
have trouble eating, including patients suffering from AIDS or
going through chemotherapy for cancer.

Medical cannabis has several potential beneficial effects. Evidence is
moderate that it helps in chronic pain and muscle spasms. Lesser
evidence supports its use for reducing nausea during chemotherapy,
improving appetite in HIV/AIDS, improving sleep, and
improving tics in Tourettes syndrome.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that cannabis is
unlikely to be useful as medicine as "it is an unpurified plant
containing numerous chemicals with unknown health effects; it is
typically consumed by smoking further contributing to potential
adverse effects; and its cognitive impairing effects may limit its
utility."Due to risks and little evidence supporting its use the American
Society of Addiction Medicine in March 2011 recommending a halt on
use of marijuana as medication in the United States, even in states
where it had been declared legal. It is recommended that cannabis
use be stopped in pregnancy.
Medical cannabis is somewhat effective in chemotherapy-induced
nausea and vomiting (CINV) and may be a reasonable option in those
who do not improve following preferential treatment. Comparative
studies have found cannabinoids to be more effective than some
conventional antiemetics such asprochlorperazine, promethazine,
and metoclopramide in controlling CINV, but these are used less
frequently because of side effects including dizziness, dysphoria, and
hallucinations. Long-term cannabis use may cause nausea and
vomiting, a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
A 2010 Cochrane review said that cannabinoids were "probably
effective" in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea in children, but
with a high side effect profile (mainly drowsiness, dizziness, altered
moods, and increased appetite). Less common side effects were
"occular problems, orthostatic hypotension, muscle twitching, pruritis,
vagueness, hallucinations, lightheadedness and dry mouth".
Evidence is lacking for both efficacy and safety of cannabis and
cannabinoids in treating patients with HIV/AIDS or for anorexia
associated with AIDS. As of 2013, current studies suffer from effects
of bias, small sample size, and lack of long-term data.
Cannabis appears to be somewhat effective for the treatment
of chronic pain, including pain caused by neuropathy and possibly
that due to fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. A 2009 review

states it was unclear if the benefits were greater than the risks, while
a 2011 review considered it generally safe for this use. In palliative
care the use appears safer than that ofopioids. A 2014 review found
limited and weak evidence that smoked cannabis was effective for
chronic non-cancer pain. The review recommended that it be used for
people for whom cannabinoids and other analgesics were not
effective. A 2015 review found moderate quality evidence that
cannabinoids were effective for chronic pain. A 2015 meta-analysis
found that inhaled medical cannabis was effective in reducing
neuropathic pain in the short term for one in five to six patients.
Another 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis found limited
evidence that medical cannabis was effective for neuropathic pain
when combined with traditional analgesics.
The efficacy of cannabis in treating neurological problems, including
multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and movement problems, is not clear.
Studies of the efficacy of cannabis for treating multiple sclerosis have
produced varying results. The combination of 9tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) extracts give
subjective relief of spasticity, though objective post-treatment
assessments do not reveal significant changes. Evidence also
suggests that oral cannabis extract is effective for reducing patientcentered measures of spasticity. A trial of cannabis is deemed to be a
reasonable option if other treatments have not been effective. Its use
for MS is approved in ten countries. A 2012 review found no problems
with tolerance, abuse or addiction.
There is some suggestive evidence that medical cannabis is effective
at reducing posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, but, as of 2016,
there is insufficient evidence to confirm its effectiveness for this
condition due to a lack of large-scale trials.
How Does It Work?
Your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that affect pain,
inflammation, and many other processes. Marijuana can sometimes
help those natural chemicals work better, says Laura Borgelt,
PharmD, of the University of Colorado.
How Is It Used?
Medical marijuana may be:
Vaporized (heated until active ingredients are released, but no
smoke is formed)
Eaten (usually in the form of cookies or candy)
Taken as a liquid extract
Side Effects


effects of marijuana that usually dont last long can include:

Short-term memory loss
More serious side effects include severe anxiety and psychosis.

Risks and Limits

Medical marijuana is not monitored like FDA-approved medicines.
When using it, you dont know its potential to cause cancer, its purity,
potency, or side effects.
Only people who have a card from a doctor should use medical
marijuana. Doctors will not prescribe medical marijuana to anyone
under 18. Others who should not use it:
People with heart disease
Pregnant women
People with a history of psychosis