If you’re a marijuana consumer, you probably already know that marijuana has a number of beneficial side effects. However, despite more than twenty states legalizing marijuana for medical use and millions of dollars spent exploring its medical applications, many people still see marijuana as a recreational drug and associate it with nothing more than getting “high”.
In fact, THC, or the chemical in marijuana responsible for giving the feeling of being “high” is just one of several cannabinoids, or chemicals in marijuana, that are effective treatments for a range of illnesses and symptoms.
The feeling of being high when consuming marijuana products comes from the fact that the chemical structure of THC is similar to naturally-occurring hormones in the human body that are responsible for regulating our perceptions, emotions, memory, muscle control, and more. While consuming THC can have negative side effects, such as paranoia or distorted visions or feelings, it can also be an effective treatment against pain and muscle control problems.
In addition to giving people the feeling of being “high”, THC is also the reason many marijuana users experience sudden food cravings. This too, combined with the fact that THC also reduces nausea, has important medical benefits, since it can help people undergoing other medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, overcome nausea and maintain a healthy weight.
While most medical applications of cannabinoids are currently targeted at conditions associated with pain, inflammation, muscle control, and nausea, the fact that THC and other compounds interact with so many different types of hormone receptors in the human body means that many other medical applications remain to be discovered. Currently CBD, another cannabinoid, is under investigation as an effective treatment against epileptic seizures in children and also shows promise for treating mental illness and addictions. Other studies have also suggested that some marijuana extracts could even help kill cancer cells.
Although only two drugs using cannabinoids have been approved by the FDA to date, many more are likely to follow. Until then, medical dispensaries are helping patients around the country find pain relief and other therapeutic benefits from the marijuana plant and its extracts.