Although medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001, its adoption by patients and healthcare practitioners has been slow. One reason for this hesitancy has been the lack of research on the medicinal effects of cannabis.
A major barrier to quality research has been the legal status of cannabis. Israel has emerged as a major centre for cannabis research. With the legal status of recreational cannabis and medical cannabis changing in many places, medical marijuana research is a growing field. There are many studies now just getting underway, which aim to shed light on what medical cannabis can and cannot do.
Even now, researchers around the world are wrapping up their studies and reporting their findings. While more research will be needed to truly establish the effectiveness of cannabis as part of a treatment for any medical condition, current medical marijuana research is showing promise in many areas.
It May Help Treat Epilepsy
There are many anecdotal cases of cannabis’s effectiveness in stopping or limiting seizures, particularly in those with rare and debilitating forms of epilepsy. While in-depth case studies can be useful, they aren’t the same as systemic, quantitative studies. They can’t be used to establish a medical case for the effective use of cannabis in epilepsy treatments.
Medical cannabis researchers are clearly interested in creating those systemic, quantitative studies. Several recent research projects have looked at the potential of cannabis to help manage epilepsy and seizures. So far, the results of these studies have been promising. The researchers have reported reductions in the number of seizures. CBD in particular seems to have anti-seizure properties, something researchers will undoubtedly continue to investigate.
More research should shed light on the mechanism, and more effective epilepsy medications may be developed in the future as a result of this ongoing medical marijuana research.
It Appears to Impede Alzheimer’s Disease
More recent medical marijuana research has been focused on its potential use in the management of Alzheimer’s disease. There’s currently a great deal of interest in Alzheimer’s, as the disease is poorly understood. Ongoing research aims to discover both the underlying mechanism and causes of the disease, as well as work towards the development of more effective treatments.
Research on medical cannabis’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease patients has shown some interesting results. In at least one study, researchers found the use of medical cannabis appeared to slow the progression of the disease in patients who had already developed it. A small daily dose of THC appeared to impede the formation of protein plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
This is promising news for the Alzheimer’s disease research community. As more studies shed light on the exact causes of this disease, more effective medications will be developed. Medical cannabis may one day prove to be one of those medications.
We must wait and see what happens as we move into human trials, which the studies currently lack. But it does look like the endocannabinoid system could be a target for this disease.
It May Help Treat Mental Health Conditions in the Future
Mental health and medical marijuana research are mixed. While some studies suggest cannabis could help treat symptoms associated with the development of depression, other studies seem to suggest cannabis has the opposite effect. What is clear, then, is the need for much more research in this area.
While more research is clearly needed, several studies have suggested medical cannabis could help in the treatment of mental health conditions such as anxiety and PTSD. The research is only the beginning, of course. Once an effect is identified and the results repeated consistently over the course of multiple studies, researchers can begin developing medical cannabis into effective medications. Currently, the research suggests medical cannabis could one day provide more effective treatment options for those with mental health conditions.
What’s clear from the latest medical marijuana research? There are many lines of inquiry currently open, and much more research is needed. The evolving research will continue to make discoveries about what medical cannabis can do for patients now and in the future.