Medical Benefits & Side-Effects Associated With Marijuana Usage

Countless studies have continued to be performed since that time, a decade ago, with most now concentrating efforts on linking the use of THC or “delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol” with analgesic properties and its derivatives. Positive Health Wellness Despite the literally hundreds of proven applications and case studies on the benefits of marijuana, it does very often come with ‘side-effects’ attributed to its use, many of which considered intolerable by the average person.

THC works as a compound, which binds to CB1 cannabinoid receptions in the brain. These cannabinoids mimic naturally occurring endocannabinoids that are already produced in the brain, but with amplified effects. THC essentially acts by inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters; the result in this is noted physiological effects. Ranging from person to person, it is understood that many of the benefits associated with marijuana to some, can be perceived as side-effects by others. In some case studies, some people actually benefited from marijuana as an anxiety-reliever, whereas in others, it acted in the exact opposite manner, as an inducer of paranoia and stress.

Early on in case studies, THC had shown significant effectiveness for some patients who suffered nausea through chemotherapy treatments. The window however for early use of THC to deny negative side effects was extremely small, in some case studies, negative effects occurred in up to 81% of patients. In one study where marijuana was smoked for the experiment, 20% of patients dropped out of the experiment, while 22% reported no relief of nausea whatsoever. It is for this reason that THC is very seldom prescribed for antiemetic uses by patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

In treating multiple sclerosis, a direct association between THC and the relief of muscle pain and spasticity was revealed, more so directly associated to the benefit of animal models. Many unwanted side effects were seen in human patients. With slower reaction-time to performance testing seen as a common side-effect, some patients were known to experience aggressive behavior and paranoiac tendencies in standard psychological testing. Many other patients would later reveal they experienced mild to moderate symptoms, including oral pain, dizziness, diarrhea and nausea. It should be noted in some studies; over 1% of patients would experience a seizure for the first time in their lives, other cases including a serious fall, and aspiration pneumonia.

Uses for marijuana or cannabis extracts for medical treatment have been closely studied for over 30 years. Initial enthusiasm for THC as an anti-emetic or to reduce intraocular pressure has waned with the inception of new medications that provide greater medical benefits with less adverse effects. THC’s main success has been found in patients suffering from AIDS and in some cases in which patients are suffering from intractable pain. However, nearly all of these studies involved the use of controlled doses of purified cannabinoids, bypassing the adverse effects associated with smoking marijuana. Dr. Robert L. DuPont, Georgetown University School of Medicine, says that most opponents of the medical use of smoked marijuana are not hostile to the medical use of THC, while “most supporters of smoked marijuana are hostile to the use of purified chemicals from marijuana, insisting that only smoked marijuana leaves be used as ‘medicine,’ revealing clearly that their motivation is not scientific medicine but the back door legalization of marijuana.” A few things to note are that studies which examined the efficacy of “medical” marijuana have found that a large percentage of patients suffer from some form of adverse side effects. These studies were however limited to a duration of a few weeks to months. So, when considering the use of medical marijuana, one must realize that it is often one of the last choices a medical professional will want to prescribe; with so many other options available without side-effects, it is reasonable to understand why.

M Erickson

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