As more states across the country legalize cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, the amount of research on the potential benefits of the plant has increased significantly. While cannabis science is still in its infancy, current research has shown that cannabis can be beneficial for treating a wide range of different ailments and improving overall wellness.
Understanding the ECS
One of the biggest contributions of cannabis science was the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biochemical system in the body designed to work with cannabinoids. Research has found that cannabinoids connect with receptors in the brain (and throughout the body) to perform specific functions and help the body maintain a natural balance. They help manage pain, stimulate or suppress your appetite, and more.
While researching the effects of cannabis compounds on the body, scientists discovered that the human body makes its own cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids) – anandamide and 2AG. These compounds connect with cannabinoid receptors to produce effects that help the body maintain homeostasis. It was this research that ultimately led to finding the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabis Aids with a Variety of Health Issues
There isn’t a ton of research on cannabis (yet), but the current research has shown that different compounds in the plant can help to treat a wide range of physical and mental health ailments.
One of the most common reasons why people use cannabis is to help alleviate symptoms of chronic pain. Studies show that cannabinoids in the plant link to the cannabinoid receptors and reduce pain signals, alleviating symptoms and making them more bearable. CBD, one of the most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis, can also help to reduce inflammation.
Cannabis can also help to alleviate the symptoms of numerous other ailments. For instance, cancer patients often use the plant to help with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The cannabinoids can help to reduce nausea, vomiting, and nerve pain. Other research shows that the plant can help with issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and insomnia. It can also help with age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, and more.
An Alternative to Conventional Treatments
Some research has shown that cannabis provides an alternative to prescription medications like opioids, anxiety medications, and sleep aids. It has shown that not only is cannabis effective but that it doesn’t present the same side effects as these conventional therapies.
Opioids, anti-anxiety medications, and prescription sleep aids often come with unwanted side effects. For instance, they might make you feel nauseous, drowsy, mentally foggy, or unstable. One of the biggest issues with these medications, however, is that they all have the risk of dependency. Cannabis provides relief without these unwanted side effects. And, some research shows that the plant may even be beneficial for treating addiction.
While researching cannabis can be difficult with current federal restrictions (the plant is still a Schedule I drug), the available research is very promising. As more states legalize cannabis use, we may soon see even more research that can help us to better understand cannabis and how it contributes to our overall health and wellness.