According to the National Institutes of Health, people have used marijuana, or cannabis, to treat their ailments for at least 3, years. However, the Food and Drug Administration have not deemed marijuana safe or effective in the treatment of any medical condition, although cannabidiol, a substance that is present in marijuana, received approval in June as a treatment for some types of epilepsy.
The flower of the cannabis plant is used for its recreational or medicinal purposes. The stalk or stem of the cannabis plant is used for industrial purposes e. The seed of the cannabis plant is used for food and household purposes e. While many people smoke or vape it, you can also use cannabis as an ingredient in food, beverages, tinctures, or topicals. Different methods of ingesting cannabis may affect your body differently. When you inhale cannabis smoke into your lungs, the compounds immediately bloodstream and quickly make their way to your brain and other organs.
It has good and bad news for pot users. Marijuana has been with humans in some way or another for thousands of years. A recent review of the research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine attempts to fill the gap in our knowledge.
Marijuana as medicine? the science beyond the controversy.
By combing through more than 10, studies published sincethe review, conducted by more than a dozen experts, provides the clearest look at the scientific evidence on marijuana yet. The research finds both some strong benefits and major downsides to cannabis. It seems to be promising for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and cancer patients. But it also seems to pose a ificant risk for respiratory problems if smoked, schizophrenia and psychosis, car crashes, lagging social achievement in life, and perhaps pregnancy-related problems.
Where there's smoke, there's harm
The National Academies ultimately calls for these barriers to be cut down and more research to be funded so we can get a better idea of what pot is capable of, especially as more states legalize it for both medical and recreational uses. Still, the report is the best look at marijuana yet. It is nearly s; if you want a really deep dive into the benefits and harms of marijuana, you should read it in full.
Since the mids, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical uses.
But in all that time, the benefits of pot have remained hazy. Despite some research showing that it can be good for pain and muscle stiffness, many of the claims about what pot can do for other ailments — such as epilepsy and irritable bowel syndrome — are based on anecdotal evidence and have yet to be scientifically proven.
But it does have some solid findings. The report concludes that marijuana can treat chronic pain. And that may allow it to substitute more dangerous, deadlier opioid painkillers.
Coupled with the findings on pain, this suggests that marijuana really is a potent treatment for cancer patients in particular, who can suffer from debilitating pain and severe nausea as a result of their illness. The report also disproved — or at least cast a lot of doubt — on some of the claimed benefits of pot. Overall, the report suggests that, as far as therapeutic benefits go, marijuana is a solid treatment for multiple symptoms associated to chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis.
Besides medical conditions, the report found evidence for some psychosocial problems. More research will be needed to evaluate that, particularly for vaping. One caveat to much of the research: correlation is not always causation.
Still, the bottom line is that marijuana does pose some harms — particularly for people at risk of developing mental health disorders, pregnant women, those vulnerable to respiratory problems, and anyone getting into a car. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower through understanding. Financial contributions from our readers are a critical part of supporting our resource-intensive work and help us keep our journalism free for all.
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