Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Marijuana or cannabis, in several parts of the world, is being used to alleviate suffering from various diseases. Nevertheless, it remains a controversial drug while critics fear that relaxing laws on its use can lead to drug abuse and other crime-related activities.
Globally, more and more states, particularly in America, are passing laws to allow the sale of marijuana in some form. In Africa, countries like Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and South Africa are beginning to tap into the profitable industry following the global rise in the use of cannabis.
As entrepreneurs, businessmen, including celebrities across the globe cash in on the industry in their numbers, scientists have also discovered that the substance, particularly, medical cannabis, has therapeutic value for a range of health conditions.
Here are some of the most common deadly diseases that cannabis is helping to control:
Spinal cord injury
This is caused by damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal (cauda equina). It usually causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury, according to Mayo Clinic. There are approximately 12,500 new spinal cord injuries each year, meaning 40 out of every one million people suffer such an injury. Research has shown that cannabis can help patients deal with the pain and muscle spasms that often accompany the injury. Researchers from Oxford Centre for Enablement found that “Cannabis medicinal extracts can improve neurogenic symptoms unresponsive to standard treatments”.
Also known as disseminated sclerosis, this disease affects the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include pain, balance issues, spasm, tingling, vision problems, according to Canabo Medical Clinic. Recent research published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal found that cannabis-based medicinal extracts can considerably reduce the spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis with few adverse effects on patients.
Cancer, abnormal growth of cells, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Cannabis, at the moment, does not cure cancer, but health experts say it can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms associated with the condition. Two of the key active components found in cannabis, THC and CBD, according to research, can stimulate appetite, which can improve weight loss, anorexia and cachexia that many patients encounter. Cannabis can also help fight nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment.
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age. Cannabis is most effective at treating the pain associated with the condition. Various studies show that smoking the natural herb helps to reduce the pain. A recent study by Health Canada and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids found that about 36 per cent of Canadian medical marijuana patients regularly smokes weed to alleviate arthritis pain.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness, according to Mayo Clinic. Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. Scientists have, in recent years, discovered that cannabis-based drugs, or CBD, which does not produce the “high” feeling associated with marijuana, can be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of HIV. Modern medications have enabled people to live a longer and healthier life, but others complain of adverse side effects with the treatment. Various studies, however, show that medical cannabis can deal with symptoms of the disease, including weight loss, nausea, anorexia, among others. A recent study cited an HIV-positive man cited in who claimed that marijuana calmed his stomach after taking medication, stimulated his appetite, eased his pain, and lifted his mood.