Medical Marijuana; Uses, Side Effects, Dosage and Interaction
While the debate over the therapeutic properties of medical marijuana is still ongoing, it has also received lots of support in recent years. All this happens because of the growing body of research that continually shows its effectiveness for a range of health conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, HIV/AIDS and many more. Even though the FDA has not fully approved the use of medical marijuana, more than half of the U.S and the District of Columbia have already legalized it in some form.
Many people are already enjoying the health benefits of medical marijuana, but there are still a huge number of people that are yet to come to the reality of this wonderful blessing of nature.
In this article, I have highlighted some things you need to know about medical marijuana; what it is, its uses, and side effects. You deserve to know everything about it.
What exactly is medical marijuana?
Also known as cannabis, medical marijuana is an herbal medication made from the leaves and buds of a type of cannabis plant. The active ingredients found in marijuana is called the cannabinoids which are compounds that occur naturally and also made by some plants and animals. Our body also makes some cannabinoid compounds.
Marijuana contains more than hundred cannabinoids, including Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) which are also the main chemicals used in medicine. These chemicals play an important role in memory, thinking, and sensory perceptions and they can also be used to treat or relieve several medical conditions.
How does medical marijuana work?
Marijuana, through its chemicals, work by binding to specific receptors in on the nerves and in the brain.
What are some of the uses of medical marijuana?
- Marijuana is effective for stopping HIV from spreading throughout the body. THC, which is an active ingredient in marijuana was found to be effective in stopping the spread of HIV in monkeys.
- Marijuana is effective in relieving nausea and vomiting. Some studies have found medical cannabis to help reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy used in cancer treatment.
- Marijuana is effective in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. A study conducted in 2006 found that marijuana can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s by blocking an enzyme behind its progression.
- Marijuana can relieve muscle spasticity that is sometimes associated with paralysis and multiple sclerosis.
- Marijuana can relieve some chronic pains, including neuropathic pain.
- Marijuana is effective in slowing the spread of cancer cells. A marijuana compound was found in 2012 to stop metastasis in some kind of aggressive cancer.
- Marijuana combats anxiety, depression, and ADHD. A study found that people who occasionally consume marijuana have lower levels of depressive symptoms compared to those that have never tried it before says an expert marijuana doctor.
- Marijuana can help treat epilepsy and Tourette’s.
- Marijuana can prevent blindness for people who suffer from glaucoma.
- Marijuana can help lower insulin levels in diabetes.
What about the dosage of medical marijuana?
The dose of marijuana preparations you take highly depend on a variety of factors, including the part of the plant isolated, the growing and harvesting conditions. However, below are some doses that have been studied in scientific research:
- For multiple sclerosis: 1-5 capsules that contain marijuana extract standardized to contain 2.5 mg of THC and 0.8-1.8 mg of CBD has been taken two times daily for twelve weeks.
As mouth spray:
- For multiple sclerosis: Sativex, GW Pharmaceuticals – a specific product of marijuana extract standardized to contain 27 mg/mL of THC and 25 mg/mL of CBD has been used daily for up to two years.
Smoked or used in inhaled in a vaporizer:
- For nerve pain: inhaling marijuana that contains THC has been used at least once daily and up to thrice per day for up to two weeks.
What are the side effects of using medical marijuana?
There are some side effects that come with the use of medical marijuana. Smoking marijuana may increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Some reports also indicated that smoking marijuana might lead to the formation of air-filled cavities within lung tissue. These cavities can cause symptoms like chest soreness, pressure, and difficulty breathing.
Using sprays that contains marijuana extracts can also cause dizziness, headache, drowsiness, dry mouth, paranoid thinking, and nausea. It might also cause coughs, increase appetite, increase heart rate, impair mental functioning, and increase or decrease blood pressure.
Some reports also suggest that when marijuana is smoked, it can increase the risk of heart attack, coronary syndrome, and swelling of the arteries walls. However, in several cases, people only experienced these after smoking marijuana because they already had other risk factors for heart-related events like being overweight or smoking cigarettes.
What other drugs interact with marijuana?
It is always recommended you speak to your doctor about any drugs you are taking. This includes other over-the-canter drugs, prescription drugs, and dietary supplements that may interact with marijuana and cause problems. Below are some drugs that are known to interact with marijuana.
#1: Sedative medications (Barbiturates)
Sedatives are medications that cause sleepiness. Since marijuana might cause sleepiness and drowsiness, taking them along with sedatives drugs might result in too much sleepiness.
#2: sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Some of these drugs include lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), zolpidem (Ambien), phenobarbital (Donnatal), and others. When these medications are taken with marijuana, it may cause too much sleepiness.
Theophylline also interacts with marijuana and could decrease the effect of the drug. However, there is not enough information to know if this is a big concern.
#4: Disulfiram (Antabuse)
Disulfiram might also interact with marijuana when taken together. It can cause trouble sleeping, agitation, and irritability.
#5: Fluoxetine (Prozac)
When you take marijuana with fluoxetine, it might cause you to feel nervous, irritated, jittery, and exited. This is usually called hypomania.
#6: Warfarin (Coumadin)
When you smoke marijuana while taking warfarin, it might increase the effect of the drug – Increasing the chance of bruising and bleeding.