The medical cannabis industry is an exciting place to be right now. While the upcoming legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada has people talking, the medical community is much more interested in ongoing research about what cannabis may be able to do for patients living with any number of conditions.
Here are a few of the most exciting insights from the latest in cannabis medical research.
1. A Possible Epilepsy Treatment
While cannabis already has several established medical uses, the current cannabis medical research is continuing to grow the number of conditions medical marijuana may help treat. One area of current research is epilepsy. Researchers want to know what, if any, effects medical marijuana use may have on epilepsy patients.
So far, the research is good news. It appears the endocannabinoid system in the human body plays some role in regulating nerves and synapses. Medical cannabis, which contains cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, can potentially influence these receptors in the body and alter how they “talk” to each other.
For those who suffer epileptic seizures, this means cannabinoids have the potential to possibly reduce synaptic reactions, which can, in turn, reduce seizures. This has been reported in animal models, and anecdotal evidence suggests medical cannabis could be more effective than some other epilepsy medications.
2. Potential Relief from Parkinson’s Disease
Another area of interest in the current cannabis medical research is the potential effects of cannabis on Parkinson’s disease. Like epilepsy, Parkinson’s affects the nerves in the body. This often results in tremors that reduce motor skills.
Since cannabinoids found in medical cannabis act on the central nervous system, they may be able to inhibit the overexcitement of these cells and nerves, reducing their activity. In turn, this could reduce or even eliminate tremors for some patients with Parkinson’s.
Since Parkinson’s is often diagnosed in older adults, the number of patients has been on the rise as more baby boomers reach their golden years. Finding an effective treatment for Parkinson’s means the medical community can restore quality of life to more people. More research is needed.
3. Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease?
Another disease commonly encountered as people grow older is Alzheimer’s. With an aging population in Canada and elsewhere, it’s estimated the number of people with the disease will also continue to increase. Finding effective treatments and even a cure are top priorities for researchers right now.
It’s probably the reason so many people are excited about the latest cannabis medical research suggesting medical cannabis may play a role in managing Alzheimer’s. There’s some evidence THC, one of the active substances in some strains of medical marijuana, could prevent the growth of beta-amyloid proteins, which are thought to contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Further research is needed, particularly with human trials, but the early indications suggest medical marijuana could possibly slow progression or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s in the elderly population.
4. Information about Addiction and Side Effects
Perhaps less exciting than cannabis medical research on how medical marijuana may be used to treat particular medical conditions is research about the medication’s safety. As medicinal cannabis use has grown, so too have concerns about just how safe it is.
As a result, many studies are focused on the side effects of medical cannabis, particularly over the long term. While it appears to be very safe in the short term, there’s less information about how patients will fare over years of treatment.
Addiction is also another area of inquiry. So far, research suggests medical cannabis may be far less addictive than substances such as opioids, and it may even be less addictive than alcohol and tobacco. Again, a lack of long-term studies makes it difficult to say with any certainty.
For now, medical cannabis appears to be a potentially safe and effective treatment for a wide variety of medical conditions. You can bank on more exciting insights from this area of research in the near future.