Medical marijuana use is on the rise. What was once deemed nothing more than an illegal gateway drug has shown tremendous promise in the medical field. The only regret has to be these uses are only now being revealed to modern medicine.
As research continues, more potential medical marijuana uses are being discovered. While some of them are relatively well-known and common, others are somewhat more unusual. More research is needed in almost every case, but here are a few of the most interesting possible uses of medical marijuana discovered so far.
1. Cannabis May One Day Be a Treatment for HIV
Since the 1980s, AIDS and HIV have been an ongoing tragic tale of pandemic. Although the initial hysteria has faded over time, the truth is AIDS and HIV still affect millions of people around the world. Many of these HIV and AIDS victims are impoverished people living in Africa, although new cases still occur every year in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.
While there are some medications that help slow the virus and extend patients’ lives and improve their quality of life, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. To date, AIDS has claimed millions of victims.
Exciting research from 2014 indicated a cure could be on the horizon. Researchers report medical marijuana was demonstrated to not just slow but outright stop the virus in its tracks. What’s more, it seemed to reverse the damage already done.
If further research shows these results bear out, then hope could be on the horizon for those who currently live with HIV and AIDS.
2. It Could Be a Targeted Treatment for Cancer
One of the first researched medical marijuana uses was in cancer treatment. In these early studies, cannabinoids were used to help patients counter the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
It seems like cannabis might be able to help these patients avoid these side effects more effectively than ever before by eliminating the need to undergo either of these treatments.
Some studies showed cannabis actually kills cancer cells, while leaving “good” cells alone. Medical marijuana could be a more effective and targeted treatment than either chemo or radiation, but more research is needed.
3. It Could Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
Although Alzheimer’s disease isn’t fully understood right now, there are many theories about the mechanisms behind the disease. Research continues to fully identify the cause. As people learn more about how Alzheimer’s develops, more effective treatments will be developed.
At the moment, medical marijuana looks like it could be one of those treatments. In experiments, medical cannabis use was shown to slow the progression of the disease in people who had already developed it. The mechanism appeared to be the prevention of protein-formation. Certain proteins are thought to be involved in the development of the disease, and cannabis seems to have prevented them from forming.
While it can’t reverse the damage or prevent Alzheimer’s altogether, it’s possible cannabis could significantly lower people’s risk of developing the disease and slow its progression in those who have already developed it. However, human trials are required.
4. It Could Reverse Aging
The fountain of youth is the stuff of legend. While no one has found this proverbial source of eternal life and youthfulness, researchers have stumbled across one of the more interesting potential medical marijuana uses while looking for it.
Studies suggest medical cannabis may be capable of reversing aging in the brain. As people grow older, the endocannabinoid system appears to weaken. As this happens, the brain ages and cognitive differences between older and younger people may become more apparent.
When mice were given low daily doses of THC, older mice acted like younger mice and performed just as well on cognitive tasks. The brain was “de-aged” in older mice, and the same could be true in older humans as well.
While ongoing research is needed to confirm these findings and determine medical marijuana’s effectiveness, there are many fascinating developments on this medical frontier.