You may be wondering if medical cannabis is used differently from recreational marijuana -- it really depends on the person and his or her condition. Many patients do smoke it or vaporize cannabis to extract the active compounds. This way, they can take in just as much as they need to manage their symptoms. People also drink medical cannabis in tea or consume it in food like brownies or cookies. There are also oils, capsules and medications made from the natural and synthetic cannabinoids.
Medical cannabis has been suggested, and used, for treating so many different diseases and conditions that it would be impossible to recount them all here. Some people who are terminally ill, regardless of the disease, find relief from severe pain and nausea when they use medical cannabis. Researchers have long been aware of cannabis' ability to reduce pressure in the eyes, which is the cause of glaucoma. Whether it's the best treatment for that condition, however, is unknown.
The joke is that cannabis causes "the munchies," but in many people, it does stimulate appetite. Patients suffering from wasting, or cachexia, have also been shown to benefit from using medical cannabis. Cachexia may include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and loss of muscle mass. It affects patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer and a host of other diseases. In addition, some of the treatments for these diseases, like chemotherapy in the case of cancer, have side effects like nausea and vomiting. Using medical cannabis may also suppress those symptoms, as well as reducing pain in these patients and others with chronic or acute pain.
Some use medical cannabis to treat muscle control disorders that cause spasticity (tight muscles), tremors and muscle spasms. These include Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers suggest that this may to be due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. However, some studies have also shown that the tremors caused by MS weren't actually reduced by using cannabis, although the patients felt that they were better. This may be due to the mood-enhancing effects of the drug.
And there lies some of the controversy inherent in medical cannabis. Next, we'll look at some of the criticism of its use and the legal issues.