Medical Marijuana Discoveries
The groundbreaking medical marijuana discoveries on this list have advanced our understanding of how the cannabis plant can treat diseases and help improve health. Because the U.S. government defines cannabis as an illegal drug, researchers face a number of challenges when it comes to trying to study the plant.
Despite this, there is a growing body of research devoted to exploring the medical properties of cannabis.
Here’s our list of 5 groundbreaking medical marijuana discoveries:
1. Medical Marijuana Can Make Cancer Cells “Self-Destruct”
Some of the most important cannabis research has to do with cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are a class of naturally occurring chemicals found in the cannabis plant. And the more researchers learn about cannabinoids, the more it seems these chemicals could have some incredible medical properties.
Here’s what we know so far:
Cannabinoids can chemically bond to cells in the human body. And when cannabinoids are injected into certain types of cancer cells, the cannabinoids send chemical signals to the cancer cells that cause them to self-destruct.
This means that cannabis could be a great way to treat certain types of cancers.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently changed its official fact sheet for cannabis. “Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others,” the fact sheet says.
“Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors.”
2. Medical Marijuana Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
A groundbreaking study from 2005 suggested that cannabinoids found in cannabis could protect certain parts of the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
While there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that cannabis can help treat Alzheimer’s, there hasn’t been enough scientific research yet to reach any solid conclusions.
This study is important because it opened the door for further research. The studies conducted since 2005 have deepened our understanding of how cannabis can treat Alzheimer’s, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
3. Medical Marijuana Decreases Opioid Addictions
The United States is currently in the middle of what many people are calling an “epidemic” of painkiller addictions.
Opioids are a class of powerful painkillers that are widely prescribed. They’re also very addictive.
A new study found that sales of opioid painkillers have quadrupled in recent years. The more they’re prescribed, the more people are becoming addicted to them.
There are right around 2 million Americans who are addicted to prescription opioids. And 16,000 people die every year from opioid overdoses.
But the study also turned up some good news. It found that states with legal medical marijuana have significantly lower rates of opioid addictions.
In places where medical marijuana isn’t allowed 5.4% of people with opioid prescriptions are abusing them. That number is cut almost in half in places where medical marijuana is legal. In those states, only 2.8% of people with prescriptions are abusing their meds.
These numbers suggest that medical marijuana could be a safe alternative to opioid painkillers.
4. Medical Marijuana Can Help Regulate Bone Mass
In 2007, researchers discovered that cannabinoids and the body’s endocannabinoid system both play important roles in regulating bone mass.
The endocannabinoid system affects the cells that weaken bones as well as the cells that rebuild bones. This discovery means that cannabinoids like the ones found in cannabis could play a role in fighting bone diseases.
Another study conducted in 2009 concluded that “cannabinoid drugs” could be used “to combat osteoporosis.”
5. Medical Marijuana Has A Huge Margin of Safety
The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug. These drugs are officially defined as “the most dangerous of all the drug schedules.”
Despite this belief, recent research has actually found cannabis to be extremely safe.
In 2015 a group of researchers from Germany and Canada compared the risks of using various drugs. They concluded that things like tobacco and alcohol are much more dangerous than cannabis.
And way back in 1988 scientists told the government that it’s pretty much impossible to overdose on cannabis. A report submitted to the DEA that year said that a person would have to smoke 1,500 pounds of cannabis in 15 minutes to be at risk of an overdose. These are our top 5 groundbreaking medical marijuana discoveries so far.