Medical Uses of Cannabis

Medical Uses of cannabis by Dr. Girivar Singhal

medical-cannabisIn the west, cannabis use for medicinal purposes dates back at least 3,000 years. It was re-introduced to the West in the 1840s by W.B. O’Shaughnessy, a surgeon who learned of its medicinal properties while working in India for the British East Indies Company. Its use was promoted for reported analgesic, sedative, inflammatory, antispasmodic, and anticonvulsant effects.

             Marijuana administrated as a cigarette or as a synthetic oral cannabinoid (dronabinol), has been proposed to have a number of properties that may be clinically useful in situations. These includes antiemetic effects in chemotherapy recipients, appetite–promoting effects in AIDS, reduction of intraocular pressure in glaucoma, gastrointestinal illness  and reduction of spasticity in multiple sclerosis and other neurologic disorders. With the possible exception of AIDS- related cachexia, none of these attributes of marijuana compounds is clearly superior to other readily available therapies. On the National Cancer Institute website, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stated that cannabinoids found in marijuana appear to have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, antitumor effects, and anticancer effects, including the treatment of breast and lung cancer. The anti-cancer effect is due to the presence of cannabidiol (CBD) in the plant, an anti-cancer agent that does not cause euphoria.

In the east, marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 4,800 years. Doctors in ancient China, Greece and Persia used it as a pain reliever and for gastrointestinal disorders and insomnia. Laboratory research has elucidated the far-flung endocannabinoid system that modulates neurotransmitter networks throughout the body through cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptors that are preferentially distributed in the brain and cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptors that are prominent in gut and immune tissues. Among dozens of cannabinoids in raw marijuana, two show medicinal promise. The first, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), is the CB1 ligand that recreational users prize. The second, cannabidiol (CBD), acting on CB2, lacks psychoactivity but works synergistically with Δ9-THC to minimize “highs” and maximize analgesia.

Dr. Girivar Singhal for The Marijuana Company


Before using Marijuana for medical purposes, consult with a physician.

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