Cannabis was used by ancient peoples in China and India, and it was considered sacred in many cultures. The healing power of medical cannabis has long been recognized by humanity, and new medical research is slowly rediscovering the many possible benefits people of the past already knew.
New medical research is also shedding light on many things ancient people likely didn’t know. One of the most interesting findings is exactly how many potential health benefits medical cannabis seems to have. Here are a few of the more surprising ones.
1. A Possible Weight Management Tool
“The munchies” are associated with people who use cannabis both recreationally and medically. It does appear that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) plays a role in regulating hunger in the human body. In fact, human mothers produce a remarkably similar chemical in their own breastmilk. It’s theorized this may encourage infants to feed more.
In adults, THC may bring on hunger. For those who are suffering from a loss of appetite or those who need to gain weight, this is important. In fact, it’s one of the reasons cannabinoids are often used to help cancer patients manage the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
Cannabis may also be used to suppress appetite, however, which could be useful for those who need to manage their weight in the opposite direction. Finally, some strains of medical cannabis claim to both suppress pain and make exercise more enjoyable, which could encourage patients to get active.
2. It May Be Useful for Mental Health
Medical cannabis has been tested for its effectiveness in treating a number of different physical conditions, but perhaps one of its more surprising effects is its potential ability to combat mental health issues. Some studies have suggested medical cannabis may be used to fight back against depression, anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD.
How does it work? Medical cannabis can cross the blood-brain barrier, which means it can act directly on the brain itself. Generally speaking, it may induce a sense of peace and ease, in addition to relaxing the body.
Some strains claim to be particularly helpful for promoting mindfulness, focus, and a sense of mental clarity. Focus can obviously help those who have ADHD, while those who suffer from depression and anxiety may find mindfulness and mental clarity help them stay in the present moment instead of being overwhelmed.
3. It May One Day Treat HIV
Some surprising and unexpected news came in 2014 when researchers announced they’d discovered THC stopped the spread of HIV in monkeys. Monkeys infected with HIV were given THC. The HIV cells didn’t spread further, and the monkeys receiving THC on a daily basis also had higher levels of healthy cells.
While the results have yet to be replicated in humans, this is great news for those fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the world. It could mean accessible and effective medication is just around the corner for those in Africa and other underdeveloped regions of the world.
4. It Seems to Slow Down Alzheimer’s
While cannabis doesn’t completely stop or cure Alzheimer’s, it may slow it down considerably. One hypothesis is cannabinoids prevent the formation of protein clumps, which are theorized to play a role in the progression of the disease. Cannabinoids also seem to block an enzyme that plays a key role in Alzheimer’s progression.
If you or someone you know has one of the conditions described here, it might be time to talk to someone about medical cannabis and what it can do.