Cannabis is emerging as a legal medical treatment in many states across the United States. In Pennsylvania, the Medical Marijuana Program was passed in 2016, giving patients the opportunity to purchase cannabis to help manage a variety of conditions and provide symptom and pain relief.
Acquiring a Pennsylvania medical cannabis card allows patients to seek cannabis safely and effectively at one of the many medical dispensaries popping up around the state. However, understanding how you may benefit from the use of medical marijuana is essential prior to use, in order to experience the best health outcomes.
The Role of CBD and THC in Medicine
With so much interest being drawn as a result of the legalization of medical marijuana in several states over the last decade, it’s likely that you’ve heard about or even researched its most well-known compounds, THC and CBD.
THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, is responsible for the psychological effects the vast majority of people associate with cannabis. CBD also comes from the Cannabis Sativa plant, but it lacks the intoxication and euphoric properties, making it desirable as a pain reliever for those who do not seek the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact with the receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system, which impact physiological processes affecting pain modulation, memory, appetite, anti-inflammatory effects, and other immune system responses.
That is why for some patients, the effects of THC and CBD help to ease a wide variety of physical and mental ailments including pain relief, inflammation, anxiety, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
It’s also more convenient than ever. Various CBD and THC products have been developed for patients to ingest orally or topically — such as oils and tinctures, creams and lotions, capsules and pills, edibles (food products), sprays, and topical patches. Prior to use, it is important to consult your physician to ensure that you’re using what is best for you.
CBD and THC for Medical Conditions & Symptom Relief
Studies have shown that patients who ingest products containing CBD and THC have experienced relief from symptoms related to a number of conditions. Among these conditions are epilepsy, nausea, and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, and loss of appetite and weight caused by HIV/AIDS.
Like any medication, it’s important to understand why you may benefit from the effects of cannabis before using it. You may be experiencing chronic pain, inflammation, or even sleep disorders, and are looking for relief. Consulting your physician and taking a look at your symptoms will help you determine how and when cannabis is right for you.
Most often, cannabis is used for pain management to help those who suffer from chronic illnesses. As the cannabinoids can alter the brain’s perception of pain, medical cannabis can relieve pain for a wide variety of conditions.
Patients who suffer from conditions that cause chronic pain, like arthritis or migraines, may find relief with medical CBD or THC. Medical cannabis can replace the need for opioid-based treatments and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can have harmful long-term effects when used frequently.
Studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis can help combat inflammation throughout the body. Particularly, cannabis can relieve pain and symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions, like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Inflammation begins when monocytes, a type of white blood cell, circulate throughout the body and, under certain conditions, mature into inflammatory macrophages that are designed to respond to infections or injuries in the body. Some of the active ingredients in cannabis can have a positive impact on this process to relieve inflammation.
In general, relieving inflammation can benefit anyone, and not just those who suffer from specific inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is a normal immune response, but when it’s chronic it can cause long-term impacts. Anyone who suffers from chronic inflammation may be a candidate for medical cannabis treatments, and you can consult your physician to see if you qualify.
Neurological and mental relief
Medical marijuana is also commonly prescribed for mental disorders and neurological conditions. Patients who suffer from anxiety, epilepsy, and post-traumatic stress disorder could benefit from medical cannabis.
Compounds in cannabis interact with the portion of our brain that controls behaviors and emotions, which can be the root of some mental illnesses. Cannabis could be an effective treatment for some patients who suffer from a mental disorder or psychological condition, and physicians can help you determine if they would be effective for you.
Improved sleep quality
Sleep issues can occur for a variety of reasons. From spending long hours at the office to insomnia, or waking up in the middle of the night due to chronic pain issues, sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your day-to-day. Sleep is one of the most important factors for health, and cannabis may be a key factor for patients to achieve adequate quality sleep.
It’s believed that the relaxing effects of cannabis are due to their interactions with the brain. When ingested, cannabis sends a message to your brain to increase drowsiness and suppress wakefulness, helping patients to fall asleep more easily.
Medical Cannabis for Pennsylvania Residents
The Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis program helps patients with qualifying medical conditions receive safe and effective access to medical cannabis. Qualifying conditions include cancer, Crohn's disease, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, terminal illness, and sickle cell anemia, and many more. Pennsylvania residents must register through the Medical Marijuana Registry and have their physician certify that they suffer from one of the qualifying medical conditions.
The active compounds in cannabis have been said to be effective in relieving the symptoms and pain related to these conditions. However, as with all medications and supplements, cannabis is not universally effective for pain or symptom relief; therefore, choosing products that are right for you is important. Your physician is familiar with your medical history and your conditions, so they are best suited to answer your questions about how medical marijuana fits into your treatment plan.