Marijuana might just be the American public's worst kept secret, with so many people smoking it either behind closed doors or on the way to see a Damian Marley concert. Apart from the recreational use, marijuana actually does have some medical benefits
to those who are terminally ill or living with severe pain.
Recently, marijuana has been decriminalized in a few states, and huge marijuana dispensaries
have been popping up here and there. The purpose of these medical marijuana dispensaries is to distribute the plant to the sick or dying as a means to help ease the pain and suffering. The psychoactive effect produced by THC (one of the chemical compounds found in marijuana) helps them feel better.
A new study conducted by Temple University's School of Pharmacy suggests that a single chemical component in marijuana could greatly ease the pain resulting from rounds of chemotherapy, especially in patients who have breast cancer. Testing on animal subjects revealed the chemical compound of importance is the compound called cannabidiol
. This substance is one of the two main chemicals found in marijuana, with THC being the other.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is the main ingredient in marijuana and is responsible for producing the psychoactive effects that include increased appetite, euphoria and significant motor skill impairment. Unlike THC, cannabidiol produces similar therapeutic effects without the brain becoming impaired. Researchers found that the compound completely negated any pain in the neural and nervous systems – specifically pain that is usually brought on by strong rounds of chemotherapy.
An added benefit to the compound was discovered when the tested animals’ tumors displayed a sharp decline in growth, slowing the tumor activity to a halt. Further research will be conducted to determine how cannabidiol affects tumors and cancerous cells.
The findings were published in the online journal Anesthesia and Analgesia
, and the lead author is Sara Jane Ward. Ward is a research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the school and one of the scientists who led the study. Ward explains that there are about ten other clinical studies with human subjects currently underway across the United States. The studies and trials will help determine if marijuana, or at least certain compounds found in the plant, can help treat a number of widespread ailments. In fact, there could be a potential for treating certain addictions such as cigarettes, alcoholism, eating disorders, shopping, video games and drugs.
Where these studies will take us, and if the American government will ever truly allow the mainstream use of marijuana in medicinal practices
, is yet to be seen. Depending on how the clinical research goes, perhaps a few years down the road your doctor could be prescribing you some Jamaican bakin' to cure your shopping addiction.