Medical marijuana is an extract of the marijuana plant that is used for medicinal purposes. Marijuana contains a large number of chemicals (cannabinoids), some of which produce a euphoric or pleasurable sensation. However, medical marijuana has a minimum amount of these chemicals. The two main cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
- THC causes euphoria and has some medicinal uses.
- CBD has medicinal value and does not cause euphoria.
In addition to smoking, marijuana can be inhaled through vaporization, consumed in the form of cookies or cooked foods, beverages, pills or even applied on the skin (topical).
When an individual inhales the smoke of marijuana, the THC enters the blood stream through the lungs and triggers the brain to secrete dopamine (chemical responsible for sensations of pleasure and pain). The exact mechanism of action of CBD is unclear.
Medical marijuana is a treatment option for numerous painful spinal conditions, mostly nerve related. The spinal cord contains nerve bundles that transmit sensory and motor information to and from the brain. Medical marijuana helps relieve chronic pain due to nervous tissue damage. Studies have shown that 3 puffs a day of marijuana can bring about a noticeable reduction in painful symptoms.
The beneficial effects of medical marijuana include the following:
- THC has been proven to reduce symptoms of jerking, twitching, and spasms of the muscles that support the spine.
- Cannabinoids have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate pain and inflammation.
- Marijuana does produce slight drowsiness and a very mild reduction in body temperature. This helps to create a relaxed and stress-free state promoting restful sleep.
- Marijuana has been known to produce a relaxed mood and improve depression.
Side effects of medical marijuana can include coughing, dry red eyes, headache, heart and lung problems, impaired mental functioning, dizziness, and numbness.
Talk to your doctor about the potential benefits of medical marijuana for your specific condition.