The use of marijuana or cannabis dates back thousands of years and was popular in ancient China, Egypt, and the Indian subcontinent. It was only in the 1840s that the Irish physician Sir William B. O'Shaughnessy popularized its use in England. 

Eventually, it spread to other European countries until it made its way to the United States of America. However, funnily enough, on today's health watch we observe that as new drugs were developed and introduced into the market the use of cannabis began to decline. By the year 1936, every state had passed a law restricting the use of marijuana for both, recreational as well as medical purposes. 

Today, medical marijuana is once again legal in 36 states in the U.S.A as well as the District of Colombia. Why? Perhaps because studies have proven its efficacy in treating various medical conditions

This article explores some of marijuana's uses in the medical context, the various legalities surrounding it, and other important information you need to know. 

Let's get straight to it!
Medical Marijuana: What Is it?

Medical marijuana is derived from the cannabis indica or cannabis sativa plant. Sometimes the chemicals from this plant are used to treat certain diseases or conditions. However, in some cases, the plant is used as a whole in treatment. 

Now while there are more than 100 cannabinoids within the plant, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two that are primarily used as medication. THC is the psychoactive compound that is generally associated with the marijuana "high" people experience while on the drug.

These THC and CBD variants are available in various concentrations for medicinal use. The two drugs dronabinol and nabilone make use of a synthetic form of THC and are used in the treatment of nausea for those undergoing chemotherapy. Additionally, the CBD Epidiolex is used in the treatment of seizures and epilepsy. 

Each of these is FDA-approved to treat those respective diseases.

Exploring the Various Uses of Medical Marijuana

Cannabinoids behave similarly to the chemicals associated with appetite, memory, movement, and pain in the human body. Most studies conducted examine the use of marijuana to treat associated illnesses and have found some promising results in the treatment of some illnesses and symptoms. 

These include Alzheimer's disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, epilepsy, seizures, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, spasms, chronic pain, nausea, appetite loss, inflammation, wasting syndrome, and more. 

For cancer patients, medical marijuana has proven effective in treating symptoms of nausea and vomiting for those undergoing chemotherapy. Additionally, it is also sometimes used to treat pain arising out of neurological damage. However, some evidence suggests that cannabis is also effective in treating joint pain, nerve damage, and other forms of chronic pain, especially in senior citizens. 

Besides physical ailments, there are some studies that suggest cannabinol (CBD) is useful in treating symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, anxiety disorders, depression, and other mood-related disorders. Medical marijuana has also been studied as an alternative to prescription drugs for those with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

Potential Side-Effects

When consumed in low doses, research suggests a very low potential for addiction or toxicity. In fact, some studies even suggest that CBD oil may help in the treatment of marijuana addictions. 

Some people have reported the side effects associated with the usage of medical marijuana. These include dizziness, higher heart rate, slower coordination or reflexes, increased appetite, withdrawal symptoms, and low blood pressure. Sometimes patients also report negative interactions with other drugs. 

While these are generally associated with higher doses, it's advisable to approach the use of medical marijuana with caution and talk to your doctor about the right dose for you, given your unique conditions. At lower doses, more common side effects include dryness of the mouth and fatigue. 

Health Watch: Find the Right Treatment for Your Needs

On today's health watch we've explored the various legalities and uses associated with medical marijuana. Not only is it used to treat symptoms like nausea and inflammation, but can also be beneficial in the treatment of mental health disorders like GAD, MDD, OCD and more. 

If you or someone you know are looking to explore medical marijuana for your own use, it might be time to get yourself a medical marijuana card.