Medical marijuana – Harvard Health

There are few topics that may fire up stronger feelings amongst medical doctors, scientists, researchers, coverage makers, and the general public than medical marijuana. Is it protected? Ought to it’s authorized? Decriminalized? Has its effectiveness been confirmed? What circumstances is it helpful for? Is it addictive? How can we maintain it out of the arms of youngsters? Is it actually the “surprise drug” that individuals declare it’s? Is medical marijuana only a ploy to legalize marijuana normally?

These are only a few of the superb questions round this topic, questions that I’m going to studiously keep away from so we are able to concentrate on two particular areas: why do sufferers discover it helpful, and the way can they focus on it with their physician?

Marijuana is presently authorized, on the state stage, in 29 states, and in Washington, DC. It’s nonetheless unlawful from the federal authorities’s perspective. The Obama administration didn’t make prosecuting medical marijuana even a minor precedence. President Donald Trump promised to not intervene with individuals who use medical marijuana, although his administration is presently threatening to reverse this coverage. About 85% of People help legalizing medical marijuana, and it’s estimated that at the least a number of million People presently use it.

Marijuana with out the excessive

Least controversial is the extract from the hemp plant generally known as CBD (which stands for cannabidiol) as a result of this part of marijuana has little, if any, intoxicating properties. Marijuana itself has greater than 100 energetic parts. THC (which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical that causes the “excessive” that goes together with marijuana consumption. CBD-dominant strains have little or no THC, so sufferers report little or no if any alteration in consciousness.

Sufferers do, nonetheless, report many advantages of CBD, from relieving insomnia, nervousness, spasticity, and ache to treating probably life-threatening circumstances akin to epilepsy. One specific type of childhood epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome is nearly unimaginable to regulate however responds dramatically to a CBD-dominant pressure of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Net. The movies of this are dramatic.

Makes use of of medical marijuana

The commonest use for medical marijuana in the USA is for ache management. Whereas marijuana isn’t robust sufficient for extreme ache (for instance, post-surgical ache or a damaged bone), it’s fairly efficient for the persistent ache that plagues thousands and thousands of People, particularly as they age. A part of its attract is that it’s clearly safer than opiates (it’s unimaginable to overdose on and much much less addictive) and it could take the place of NSAIDs akin to Advil or Aleve, if individuals can’t take them as a consequence of issues with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.

Specifically, marijuana seems to ease the ache of a number of sclerosis, and nerve ache normally. That is an space the place few different choices exist, and those who do, akin to Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are extremely sedating. Sufferers declare that marijuana permits them to renew their earlier actions with out feeling utterly out of it and disengaged.

Alongside these traces, marijuana is alleged to be a improbable muscle relaxant, and other people swear by its capacity to reduce tremors in Parkinson’s illness. I’ve additionally heard of its use fairly efficiently for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most different circumstances the place the ultimate widespread pathway is persistent ache.

Marijuana can also be used to handle nausea and weight reduction and can be utilized to deal with glaucoma. A extremely promising space of analysis is its use for PTSD in veterans who’re coming back from fight zones. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic enchancment and clamor for extra research, and for a loosening of governmental restrictions on its examine. Medical marijuana can also be reported to assist sufferers affected by ache and losing syndrome related to HIV, in addition to irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s illness.

This isn’t meant to be an inclusive checklist, however relatively to present a quick survey of the varieties of circumstances for which medical marijuana can present reduction. As with all treatments, claims of effectiveness must be critically evaluated and handled with warning.

Speaking together with your physician

Many sufferers discover themselves within the scenario of eager to be taught extra about medical marijuana, however really feel embarrassed to convey this up with their physician. That is partly as a result of the medical neighborhood has been, as a complete, overly dismissive of this difficulty. Medical doctors are actually enjoying catch-up and attempting to maintain forward of their sufferers’ data on this difficulty. Different sufferers are already utilizing medical marijuana, however don’t know inform their medical doctors about this for concern of being chided or criticized.

My recommendation for sufferers is to be completely open and trustworthy together with your physicians and to have excessive expectations of them. Inform them that you just think about this to be a part of your care and that you just count on them to be educated about it, and to have the ability to at the least level you within the path of the knowledge you want.

My recommendation for medical doctors is that whether or not you’re professional, impartial, or in opposition to medical marijuana, sufferers are embracing it, and though we don’t have rigorous research and “gold commonplace” proof of the advantages and dangers of medical marijuana, we have to study it, be open-minded, and above all, be non-judgmental. In any other case, our sufferers will search out different, much less dependable sources of data; they may proceed to make use of it, they only received’t inform us, and there will likely be that a lot much less belief and power in our doctor-patient relationship. I typically hear complaints from different medical doctors that there isn’t sufficient proof to advocate medical marijuana, however there’s even much less scientific proof for sticking our heads within the sand.


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