In medicine, we often approach therapeutic decisions with a risk-benefit ratio. Does the medicine or choice I am providing have a greater benefit than the risk to the person I am attempting to heal? As a physician, cannabis expert (personal use only), and mother, I have asked this question often in regards to cannabis. This is a serious question for me and has been a dilemma my whole life. When I began this journey, there were many days that I questioned why I would choose to enter the cannabis industry. The largest part of the reason is that I am so excited to be part of the conversation. If you have questions about the benefits of cannabis, well, so do I!
Cannabis is an extremely complex plant containing approximately 400 chemical compounds. The commonly known compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) which have opposing effects on the body. The discovery of these compounds in cannabis led to the further discovery of an important neurotransmitter system called the endocannabinoid system–which is located in the brain and in the body.
Although cannabis has been used and cultivated by humans for 6000 years, our current knowledge of its pharmacological properties is based on studies from the end of the nineteenth century. We are only now beginning to document its therapeutic effects. Currently, cannabis is legal for medical use in 37 states and recreational use in 18. In ANJA-land (AKA the beautiful garden state of New Jersey), the qualifying conditions for medical use include inflammatory bowel disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), terminal cancer, and terminal illness defined as a prognosis of fewer than 12 months life. Other indications are included if a patient is resistant to conventional therapy including seizure disorder, glaucoma, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Lastly, if a patient exhibits severe or chronic pain, nausea, vomiting, or has wasting syndrome due to HIV/AIDs or cancer then they would also qualify for medicinal marijuana. This is a very limited scope that leaves out many individuals who may otherwise benefit from the therapeutic effects of cannabis.
Cannabis is also known to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and prevent relapse in drug and alcohol addiction. It has shown benefits in treating anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Its anti-inflammatory properties are effective in treating a multitude of gastrointestinal disorders and can be used to reduce and prevent symptoms. It has many uses in cancer, like alleviating the effects of chemotherapy, as well as preventing the cell growth of cancer cells; this even includes cell death in cervical cancer cell lines. Cannabidiol has shown potential anti-cancer properties that include the prevention of cancers, tumor treatment, and beneficial effects on the immune system. Cannabis is an amazing muscle relaxant and has been successfully used to treat muscle tremors in Parkinson's. It can also be used in a multitude of conditions where the final common pathway is pain stemming from conditions like fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and interstitial cystitis.
The medical community is far behind in understanding the benefits of cannabis, and often patients are fearful to admit their use of the drug to their providers. There are not enough studies that describe the use of cannabis’s therapeutic effects to result in a gold standard of risks and benefits. A recent search of medical websites often yields the risk of cannabis use, but inadequate information about its benefits. Risks ascribed to cannabis use include testicular cancer and respiratory disease. It is unclear if cannabis worsens lung functions for those with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. With so many potential questions, why is so little known about cannabis?
At ANJA, we want to go on this journey of exploration to better understand the benefits and risks associated with cannabis use. It’s our mission to educate and spread knowledge, so please let us know what questions and concerns you may have in regards to your cannabis journey. ANJA is not a lifestyle–it’s a culture that promotes higher development and individual evolution through self-awareness and personal wellbeing. Come visit us at ANJA: let’s be part of the movement where we can have an open dialogue about the risks and benefits of cannabis. Hopefully, the more questions we ask the more answers we get. If you have questions, we got ANJA!
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