Is Cannabis Safe and Effective as Medicine?
Cannabis products are being extensively used by people all over the world and marijuana has been used for treating ailments since 3000 years. However, the FDA has not yet declared cannabis or marijuana to be safe and effective for treating any medical condition. Cannabidiol, a substance found in marijuana, has recently been approved for treating some types of epilepsy.
Is cannabis safe and effective in treating different health conditions?
The medicinal properties of the cannabis plant have been the topic of debate and discussion over the years. THC, an active ingredient in cannabis, is found to have huge medical benefits in certain formulations. For instance, the FDA has approved the use of THC-based drugs like nabilone and dronabinol for alleviating side-effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients. Many other marijuana-based drugs are currently undergoing testing and clinical trials to prove their efficacy. The FDA so far has approved of a CBD-liquid medicine Epidiolex for treating childhood epilepsy.
So, instead of using the crude extracts from the cannabis plant, researchers attempt to use the purified chemicals taken out from it for its therapeutic benefits. When you create drugs from botanicals like the cannabis plant, there are many challenges. Botanicals can have many unknown active chemicals; so, developing a drug with consistent and accurate doses of chemicals can be quite a challenge. Moreover, using marijuana for medicinal purposes can trigger problems like side-effects of smoking or THC-triggered cognitive impairment. Yet, many states are slowly dispensing marijuana legally and allowing companies to use its extracts for treating a variety of health problems.
- Medical marijuana has proved to be effective in alleviating chronic pain conditions. Chronic pains are the main causes for disability amongst people and affect more than 25 million. According to studies on cannabis, products containing cannabinoids are effective for pain relief. The Clinical Psychological Review reports that marijuana helps people struggling with opioids and alcohol dependencies. However, the truth is the more one uses cannabis or marijuana to tackle certain health issues; the more they become addicted to it. For instance, people who have been using drugs from a young age are prone to addiction when they start using marijuana later.
- Marijuana has also been used for treating different types of mental health issues. For instance, people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression found relief through cannabis use. But, at the same time, it should not be recommended for treating psychosis or bipolar disorder. There is also evidence that suggests that marijuana can alleviate social anxiety symptoms.
- Oral cannabinoids have been found to be effective in treating vomiting and nausea experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemo. Studies on cancerous cells show that cannabinoids are capable of slowing down or even destroying some types of cancerous cells. So, while cannabis may be used for alleviating cancer treatment symptoms safely, it cannot cure or prevent cancer.
- When oral cannabinoids are used for the short-term, they can alleviate symptoms of spasticity in people suffering from multiple sclerosis. In June 2018, the FDA finally approved cannabis use for making medicines to treat two types of epilepsy, namely the Dravet syndrome and the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
CBD is a substance occurring in cannabis plant which is not psychoactive; so drugs made for treating health conditions use purified forms of the CBD. There is enough proof to suggest that marijuana has both beneficial and harmful effects. More research is required to understand marijuana’s public health implications. Scientific bodies like American Cancer Society, for example, stress the need to research further on its uses for treating medical conditions.