Medical Marijuana Treatment Guide
Welcome to the wonderful world of all-natural treatment options that won’t force you to sacrifice your health to achieve some much-needed relief. Here, you will find absolutely everything that there is to know about using medical marijuana as a treatment for some of the most commonly experienced symptoms, including how it works, what it can help to treat, the effects, potential side effects and the legalities surrounding this nature-based medicine.
What is medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana is derived from cannabis plants that have been bred and labeled because they are known or have proven to be beneficial for treating an assortment of various medical conditions and symptoms.
Medical vs recreational marijuana
A lot of consumers believed that medical marijuana strains and products are superior to their recreational counterparts, but according to DOC MJ, the difference between the two might come as a surprise. Most medical cannabis strains earn that title from user experience and proven effectiveness to treat specific conditions, which is the reason why so many of them have a higher CBD content rather than THC. Recreational strains place much more importance on the euphoric experience rather than relief of issues, so they typically produce more substantial quantities of THC.
CBD vs THC
These are the two primary active cannabinoids that we hear so much about from both the media and the medical industry, and each one offers its own unique benefits and effects that consumers should be aware of.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is believed to be the only one of over 100 cannabinoids produced by the marijuana plant to induce an intense sensation of euphoria or high that most consumers might expect after ingesting cannabis or infused products. It is psychoactive and its effects, while instant, wears off incredibly quickly, hence the reason it is so often the preferred element by patients seeking immediate pain relief.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive element that is found in the highest concentrations amongst medical marijuana strains, and its effects are much more challenging to measure at first. CBD can help to soothe inflammation, stimulate healthy blood flow, and regulate normal bodily functions like feeling hungry or tired. This is the reason why it is most beneficial for consumers who are seeking long term medicinal benefits.
Conditions that medical marijuana helps to treat
The cannabinoids found in medical marijuana can help to alleviate the most common symptoms of anxiety while promoting soothing, comfort and relaxation when you are alone or in an interactive social environment. CBD is the element that provides the anxiolytic-like qualities that can have a calming effect after ingestion.
When medical marijuana is used as a treatment for headaches or migraines, both cannabinoids THC and CBD work together to trigger a release of our own natural brain chemicals that can help to reduce both the frequency and severity of symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis was one of the first medical conditions to garner approval for the use of medical marijuana, and patients worldwide are reporting incredibly promising results when using high THC producing strains as a treatment. Though some maintain their more traditional pharmaceutical regimen, others are able to obtain suitable relief using only medical cannabis products.
So far there is little for scientific evidence that proves medical marijuana treatment products can kill harmful cancer cells in humans, but we do have one clinical trial on CBD and prostate cancer by the European Association of Urology, and another that experimented with cannabis oil on rats, where both results showed to have a massive impact on the size of the tumors in question as well as the overall health and well being of the patients.
Seizures can occur for a variety of reasons which is a part of the reason why this condition can be so challenging to treat. However, Cannabis-derived medicines have been proven to reduce seizures in children with severe cases of Epilepsy. These results are believed to be the product of CBD which we now know has anti-spasticity qualities, but for the first time its effectiveness was measured in a clinical trial that used pure CBD oil, and the results were that over 50% experienced a significant reduction in seizure severity and frequency.
One study conducted by the Harvard Medical School showed that Dopamine can play a significant role in our energy levels and that an oversupply of dopamine can cause fatigue and a drop-in energy level. THC, which is the psychoactive element triggers the release of a rush of chemicals in the brain once it enters the bloodstream, and one of those chemicals is dopamine, hence the reason why some kinds of marijuana can leave you feeling groggy and tired. CBD, it seems is the key to treating the symptoms of fatigue, and it works the same way that THC does, except, instead of a rush of immediate euphoric sensations, CBD offer help with decreasing dopamine levels and increasing energy.
According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, medical marijuana can be a helpful tool in the treatment of eye pressure and other related conditions like Glaucoma. The cannabinoid CBD helps to relieve the build-up of pressure surrounding the eyes which can help to improve vision and reduce painful symptoms short term.
Both CBD and THC can help with this uncomfortable symptom as the psychoactive element produces an instant relief of pain and soothing of the muscles, while CBD works more discreetly to reduce the annoying inflammation that leaves bloating and aches sensations that come with most muscle and abdominal cramps from PMS.
Depression is a condition that isn’t easily diagnosed, as it can be caused by a variety of factors from abnormal brain functioning to regular life stresses that can get to be too much. Luckily medical marijuana can help to soothe the symptoms of depression by offering a full-body relaxation, better quality of sleep, healthier appetite, increased mood levels and more.
THC can help to treat most pain by offering an immediate sense of relief; however, CBD is the most essential cannabinoid to achieve long term relief in cases where the damage or condition is expected to last longer than a few weeks. Cannabidiol works as an anti-inflammatory, which can help to bring down the swelling that causes pain in many situations including muscles and spasms, injury, degenerative conditions, headaches, nerve pain and just about every other pain-related issue that you can think of.
According to the NCIB using medical marijuana as a treatment for muscle spasms can be immediately effective at reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms, but only when products like flowers or oils with high levels of THC are utilized.
The use of medical marijuana for treating sleep issues like insomnia has shown to be quite beneficial in aiding the overall quality of sleep that patients achieve. Some researchers have indicated that consuming cannabis products before heading to bedtime can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by an average of 30 minutes, which is lifechanging for many patients.
One of the most famous side effects of getting high is a good case of the munchies, and THC is the cannabinoid that is most often linked to this insatiable hunger which can be really useful for anyone who has issues that can be solved by finally feeling hungry, but that’s not all. Medical marijuana offers high quantities of CBD which helps to regulate normal bodily functions including the chemicals in the brain that cause constant hunger or cause an individual to feel too stressed out to take a moment to enjoy a meal.
The sensation that we call nausea begins in the brain and occurs when a signal is sent there, which triggers an adverse reaction to unwanted stimuli. Luckily the THC in medical marijuana is able to reduce the intensity of those signals by binding to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, efficiently eliminating the body’s natural response to nausea inducing triggers.
Marijuana anti-inflammatory treatments are most successful when both THC and CBD are used together. These elements combined can provide both instant pain relief as well as a long-term decrease in many of the uncomfortable sensations that are typically caused by inflammation. Recent information released by the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, has confirmed that the cannabinoids in medical marijuana work best at low doses and when combined.
Both THC and CBD can be effective tools when used as a treatment for stress-related symptoms, as this diagnosis can be caused by many different factors including things like diet, sleep, mood and pain, which can often all be successfully managed with the assistance of medical marijuana products.
Medical marijuana vs other drugs
There is no denying that our deep history of medical advancement in more traditional pharmaceutical options provides a range of solutions that can’t always be replaced, but medical marijuana offers an all-natural, non-toxic and gentler approach that can be ingested and utilized in many different ways and forms to suit nearly any needs. Unfortunately, most prescribed medications come paired with a long list of adverse effects to watch out for, and the trade off isn’t always worth the rewards that are promised in return, especially when it means sacrificing other essential aspects of our health just to get a bit of relief. While you will hear about thousands of deaths each and every year from pharmaceuticals, there is not a single one in recorded history that has been caused by medical marijuana alone.
Indica vs Sativa for medical use
Some consumers use old misconceptions surrounding the different types of weed to decide on a strain to use for treatment, but unfortunately, despite what you might have heard, the effects of both Indica and Sativa strains can vary greatly. Sativa do not always provide lighter or more uplifting results, and Indica is rarely the most hard-hitting couch inducing options. In fact, it is often hybrid medical marijuana strains that are the most potent and effective choices on the market today, because they have been selectively bred to produce those incredibly powerful properties.
The effects of medical marijuana
There is no ‘one dose fits all’ approach when it comes to medicating with cannabis, so the effects that consumers should expect will greatly depend on the ones that they use. If you choose a medical marijuana strain with high concentrations of CBD, then the effects will be lighter and much less noticeable, but if you are prescribed a high THC option, then the more intense sensations of euphoria and relaxation are highly probable.
Other factors must also be considered including your prior history and tolerance to marijuana products, which might influence how much you need to achieve a sufficient level of relief. However, the cannabinoid profile of nearly all medical marijuana strains includes both THC and CBD, and below is a list of the most commonly experienced effects from consuming cannabis infused products of either type.
- Heightened senses
- Slower reaction time
- Reduced pain
- Feeling of relaxation
- Less anxiety
- Distorted sense of time
Types of medical marijuana products
Since consumers that are interested in medical marijuana products are often battling some other medical condition, it doesn’t always make sense to be smoking dry herb. Luckily, there are thousands of different options to choose from, but they all fall into one of three methods of application.
Dry bud flower concentrates like BHO, shatter or wax and any other smokable or vaped medical marijuana products like sprays that can be inhaled and enter the lungs.
Capsules, edibles, cannabis oil, tincture and any other products that are meant to be swallowed or eaten fit into this category.
Balm, butter, cream, ointment, bath bombs and salves are all examples of incredibly topical medical marijuana products.
How to get a medical marijuana card
Not all regions offer medical marijuana programs, but if you reside in one that does, obtaining a license is typically a relatively easy process that your medical provider can help to guide you through. If your doctor doesn’t approve of this treatment choice or you don’t have a family healthcare provider, then the next best option is usually your local cannabis clinic that is staffed with physicians that are ready to help you get your medical marijuana card.
Why you should work with your doctor while using medical marijuana
Though it might sound really easy to get started on your own path of self-treatment using cannabis products, it is always a good idea to work with a medical professional along the way. These specialists can help to oversee the process, so ensure that any other medications that you might be taking won’t adversely react with the introduction of medical marijuana, and to get a legitimate license to ensure that your medical requirements are recognized no matter where you go.
Where is medical marijuana legal?
Despite the growing mountain of evidence that confirms the powerful benefits of medical marijuana, there are still many regions that do not allow its use, even for medical purposes. Unfortunately, every state, province, and country in the world has its own set of rules and laws. What that means, is that even if you are licensed in your home region, you might not be able to travel with your medicine, which is why it is so important to familiarize yourself with the local regulations of not only where you live, but also where you might want to go. For a full-length in-depth list of each country and states medical marijuana status, you can check out our handy guides for reference.
How much does medical marijuana cost?
Medical marijuana prices vary by region just like recreational options, but there are a few important things that you should know about what to expect when it comes time to fill your prescription. The average market price for small quantities of medical marijuana can range anywhere from $5 per gram to $15 per gram, which is a hefty price for patients with no coverage for this type of treatment. Especially once you consider how far that amount goes, as a gram only rolls an average of 2 or 3 small joints.
Luckily there are a few things that you can do to alleviate the financial burden that so often comes with choosing holistic treatment methods including:
- Buy in bulk
- Ask about compassionate pricing
- Hire a medical marijuana grower
- Cultivate your own medical marijuana
How to grow medical marijuana
This is typically the most rewarding and affordable option as you can choose the ideal medical marijuana strains for your condition or symptoms and know that no harmful toxins or chemicals are being added to the products that you are consuming. However, it does require a bit of research to find the right strains and the proper tools and instructions to follow to successfully yield a crop.
Growing medical marijuana is no different than cultivating recreational strains, but this isn’t your average houseplant, and it will require special lighting, nutrients and care to thrive. The bare essentials for a successful harvest are a timer, pots, nutrient-dense soil, plenty of water, strong and efficient lighting and the perfect marijuana seeds from your favorite medical marijuana strain. For more in depth, step by step instructions head on over to our guide that will teach you exactly how to grow organic marijuana.
What to watch out for when purchasing medical marijuana products
Unfortunately, despite the widespread legalization of marijuana, the black market is still booming, which has led to an influx of unregulated products that make fantastic claims that are unverified and rarely true. The best way to avoid buying any untested medical marijuana products is to make all of your purchases through a licensed dispensary that carries only the highest quality options and brands for patients.