Most doctors no longer contend the medicinal value of cannabis. There are hundreds of scientific studies that prove it, making the point difficult to argue. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies are developing cannabinoid-based medicines, affirming that cannabis benefits the human body. It is these substances – cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – which give the cannabis plant its medicinal properties.
Thanks to extensive research, we have discovered that cannabis is effective in treating a wide variety of illnesses, including chronic pain, seizures and PTSD. Some would even argue that cannabis can treat cancer, with many individuals curing cancer with cannabis oil. Yet, it is rarely pointed out that cannabis is also a potential preventative medicine for some very common health problems.
Below are several examples of scientific research that show the preventative properties of cannabis.
THC Keeps the Brain “Clean” to Prevent Alzheimer’s
In 2014, researchers at the University of South Florida and Thomas Jefferson University found that the cannabinoid THC helps prevent plaque build-up on the brain. This plaque, called beta amyloid plaque, is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s. This illness is the most common form of dementia.
Furthermore, the study showed that THC helps with mitochondrial function. The mitochondria of the cell takes in nutrients from the cell, breaks it down, and turns it into energy. Evidence exists indicating that mitochondrial dysfunction plays an early and significant role in Alzheimer’s disease.
Lead author of the study, neuroscientist Chuanhai Cao, Ph.D., wrote:
THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation and enhancing mitochondrial function.
THC Protects the Brain from Many Neurodegenerative Diseases
Another 2014 study out of Tel-Aviv University in Israel tested whether extremely-low dose of THC could protect the brain from inflammation-induced cognitive deficits. Some of the more common neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease.
The researchers concluded:
Our results suggest that an ultralow dose of THC that lacks any psychotrophic activity protects the brain from neuroinflammation-induced cognitive damage and might be used as an effective drug for the treatment of neuroinflammatory conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases.
Cannabis Can Prevent Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
In 2017, a group of researchers out of Dalhousie University in Canada published their findings on the effects that CBD has on osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a degenerative joint condition that affects millions around the world. Symptoms often include inflammation, numbness, pain and joint neuropathy.
The researchers, including HT Philpott of the Departments of Pharmacology and Anaesthesia, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine, concluded that CBD may prevent OA patients from developing nerve damage and joint pain. In addition to CBD’s neuro-protective properties, the substance reduced joint inflammation when administered locally.
The researchers published their study in the medical journal PAIN. They stated:
The data presented here indicate that local administration of CBD blocked OA pain. Prophylactic CBD treatment prevented the later development of pain and nerve damage in these OA joints. These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.
Cannabis Compounds May Prevent Spread of Cancer
So far, as with many studies on medical cannabis, researchers examining the plant’s effect on cancer have only conducted studies in a lab and/or on animals. Therefore, it is difficult to proclaim as fact that cannabis can prevent cancer.
Nevertheless, there are numerous studies that show cannabis has the potential to prevent the spread of cancer. Additionally, researchers have been successful in determining that different cannabinoids affect different types of cancer cells.
In one 2014 study out of Ohio State University and published in Oncotarget, Bandana Chakravarti et al write:
Cannabinoids exert a direct anti-proliferative effect on tumors of different origin. They have been shown to be anti-migratory and anti-invasive and inhibit MMPs which in turn degrade the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), thus affecting metastasis of cancer to the distant organs.
This is just one study in many that claim cannabis could prevent cancer spread. Many others published studies have concluded that cannabinoid receptors in the brain are linked to anti-cancer activity. This includes reduction in tumor growth and stimulation of cancer cell death.
G. Velasco et al from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, write in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry:
It is well-established that cannabinoids exert palliative effects on some cancer-associated symptoms. In addition, evidences obtained during the last fifteen years support that these compounds can reduce tumor growth in animal models of cancer. Cannabinoids have been shown to activate an ER-stress related pathway that leads to the stimulation of autophagy-mediated cancer cell death. In addition, cannabinoids inhibit tumor angiogenesis and decrease cancer cell migration.
Based on these claims, it is very possible that cannabis can prevent the spread of cancer. It will still take some time to identify which specific cannabinoids work best for the different types of cancer. As well, we have yet to learn the best way to administer cannabinoids in order to fight cancer. Regardless, it seems foolish to dismiss cannabis as a potential treatment for existing cancer patients.
Clearly, with cannabis still being illegal in much of the world, it will take some time for the medical establishment to fully accept cannabis as a preventative medicine. Yet, many scientific studies confirm that healing cannabinoids benefit the human body. Hopefully, these studies are a positive step in helping make cannabis accessible to the people who need it and are willing to try it in a clinical setting.
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