Nowadays, we are observing a quick transformation of marijuana stereotypes and usage. In the U.S., marijuana is already legalized for medical purposes in 23 states, and even in the capital of the country. Despite the fact that scientists have discovered some of the amazing benefits of medical marijuana, large-scale clinical studies of cannabis are currently next to impossible because of marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug by the DEA. Scientists do not have an opportunity to work with marijuana grown in accordance with the standards required for medical research, even in states where it is legal.
For the reasons outlined above, evidence of marijuana effectiveness is somewhat scarce. Yet, what data there is allows us to compile a list of conditions may be effectively treated with marijuana.
In 2003, a study of effects of marijuana in rats showed that THC, one of the active ingredients of cannabis, can effectively prevent epileptic seizures. One of the study's authors, Dr. Robert J. DeLorenzo, who works at the Virginia Commonwealth University, administered synthetic marijuana and cannabis extract to rats with epilepsy. The drug had the effect of preventing the seizures for 10 hours. According to some small-scale studies in humans, medical marijuana may be an efficient treatment for treatment-resistant epilepsy.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, marijuana may increase lung capacity. People who smoked marijuana daily for 20 years did not show impaired lung function. In fact, their lung capacity has increased. The increase in the lung volume may be explained by the need to breathe deeply when smoking marijuana.
According to researches at California Pacific Medical Center, cannabis may stop some cancerous cells from spreading by blocking the gene called Id-1 that cells use to propagate. A 2007 study of breast cancer cells in vitro shows that CBD stops the expression of this gene, therefore making cancer less likely to spread.
Another study, conducted in 2014, suggests that that marijuana can slow down the growth of some brain tumors that are associated with 80% of malignant brain cancer in humans.
The journal Molecular Pharmaceutics published an interesting study in 2006. The study found that synthetic blend of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol helps preserve memory against age-related changes in mice.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve leading to vision loss. Usually, the damage is caused by increased intraocular pressure. According to one study, marijuana can reduce the pressure in the eye. These properties can slow the spread of disease and perhaps prevent blindness. According to the National Eye Institute, “studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.” However, pharmaceutical drugs remain the most efficient option.
At the moment, scientists face significant difficulties studying marijuana because of the complex web of governmental regulations. However, the available data suggests that cannabis may have a great potential in medicine.