Cannabis is moving into its rightful position as a part of general health and wellness treatments. In fact, a recent study released from Duke University and the University of Arizona in the United States found that long-term marijuana use didn’t lead to a decline in health. In this study 1,000 participants from New Zealand were tracked over a 40-year period, each with at least 20 years of consistent cannabis smoking.
The study found no decline in lung function, no increase in high blood pressure or diabetes, or any other deterioration of physical health. The one caveat to the study was that high levels of gum diseases were detected, though that’s a factor that could be decreased as people move away from smoking marijuana and towards vaporizing, as well as edible and topical products.
The study also found no similarities between long-term tobacco smoking and long-term marijuana smoking. Avshalom Capsi, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and the co-author of the study said that “overall damage to physical health is not apparent in this study.”
Top 11 Reasons Marijuana is Good for You
This study provides new scientific evidence that matches up with the fact that there have never been any deaths attributed to cannabis, while around 100 Canadians die each day from tobacco-related illnesses, according to the Canadian government. What we’re now finding is that cannabis provides a variety of health benefits to those who are healthy, as well as folks struggling with various illnesses.
Here are some of the 11 most important—and sometimes surprising—benefits of cannabis.
1. Cannabis Regulates Metabolism & Weight Loss
A survey conducted at Nunavik Inuit Health in 2004 found that the 57.4% of people in the survey who said they used cannabis had a lower average percentage of fat, body mass index and fasting insulin levels.
Smoking cannabis is now associated with a 56% lower likelihood of obesity. This is just one of the many studies that ties lower rates of obesity of cannabis users, who have a smaller waist on average than non-cannabis users. Cannabis is believed to help regulate your metabolism, also making it a factor in lowering the risk of diabetes.
In addition, for many people cannabis makes them more active. In fact, there are people who claim that it increases athletic ability, in particular for long distance runners and swimmers. Many athletes claim that it improves focus and the ability to push past previous limitations.
Cannabis is often used to increase athleticism, especially in long distance running.
2. Marijuana Is Shown to Alleviate Depression
Depression is one of the most common medical conditions in the world. A study from the University of Buffalo in 2015 found that: “In the animal models we studied, we saw that chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids, leading to depression-like behavior,” says RIA senior research scientist Samir Haj-Dahmane, PhD. This means that cannabis can be used to supplement endocannabinoids lacking within our system, helping the body return to homeostasis and in turn reducing depression levels. Cannabis also aids in relieving stress, which is one of the biggest risk factors for depression.
3. Cannabis Seems to Slow Development of Alzheimer’s
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. A study published in theJournal of Alzheimer’s Disease in September of 2014 found that, “THC [the main active ingredient in marijuana] could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.” This is believed to be due to the neuroprotective and antioxidant qualities of cannabis.
4. Cannabis Helps Relieve Arthritis
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of physical disability in the world and it is one of the most common kinds of chronic pain. The first recorded use of cannabis to help heal arthritis was in China nearly 4,000 years ago. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active compound in most strains of marijuana, has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabidiol (CBD), which is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, helps regulate auto-immune conditions like arthritis as well.
5. Many Forms of Marijuana can Treat Chronic Pain
One of the most common reasons people miss work and have a decreased quality of life is due to various types of chronic pain. From PMS cramps to headaches to back pain, many people feel pain on a daily basis. Cannabis can help reduce pain whether it’s applied in the form of a topical or consumed orally. Cannabis consumption can also help greatly decrease the need for harsh, addictive opioids.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis means it can help alleviate chronic pain.
6. Cannabis Shown to Lower Blood Pressure
Around 5 million people in Canada have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This can lead to cardiovascular disease and even to stroke or heart attack. Tobacco is one of the most common causes for high blood pressure, along with poor diet and lack of exercise. There’s a wide range of scientific and anecdotal studies to support how cannabis decreases blood pressure. Some researchers also believe that cannabinoids may have a protective role within the body, which also helps decrease blood pressure.
7. Recovery from Eating Disorders Aided by Cannabis
Eating disorders are becoming an increasingly large problem across the world as many young people are exposed to constant media pressure to be unattainably beautiful and thin. Cannabis can help regulate eating patterns, aiding with recovery from conditions like bulimia and other binging disorders. Marijuana can also help stimulate appetite to aid people with anorexia. Cannabis also helps to reduce anxiety, both social and food related, that leads many people down the path of eating disorders.
8. Reduction of PTSD Symptoms When Consuming Marijuana
Veterans have become some of the most vocal supporters of cannabis legalization due to the incredible relief cannabis can provide to folks with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Cannabis can help reduce the stress and anxiety PTSD sufferers struggle with every day. It also reduces the need for opioids and other pharmaceuticals that some with their own list of dangerous side effects.
9. Nausea Reduction Achieved With Cannabis
Many people experience nausea on a regular basis, whether it’s caused by digestive problems or certain foods. Cannabis can help decrease stomach pain and regulate your body’s digestive processes. Marijuana also reacts with brain receptors to help regulate the feelings that are often associated with nausea. Cannabis can also help stimulate appetite when people may find themselves avoiding food due to stomach discomfort.
10. Studies Show CBD Reduces Frequency of Seizures
CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, can greatly reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.
A study from the American Academy of Neurology published in 2015 found that there was an average of a 51% decrease in the amount of seizures people experienced while using medical cannabis, as well as a 63% decrease in seizures for patients who had Dravet’s syndrome.
A specific marijuana strain, Charlotte’s Web, was created particularly for a young girl who experienced extreme seizures. The strain is still widely used due to its effectiveness and lack of psychoactive side effects.
Anandamide in your brain is also in cannabis, and it makes you happy!
11. Marijuana Makes You Happy
Lastly, marijuana, for the vast majority of people, induces a sense of euphoria and calm. Happiness, or a general sense of wellbeing is what every human wants. Scientific studies show a connection between happiness, optimism and overall life satisfaction. Cannabis activates a neurotransmitter in our brain called anandamide which helps us, among other things, feel happy. THC is responsible for stimulating the anandamide endocannabinoid, which is found both within our body as well as within cannabis itself.
Main photo credit: USFS Region 5