Bud, weed, pot, Mary Jane—there’s an endless list of slang terms for cannabis. With states like California legalizing this drug, it’s a wonder that we still can’t all agree on a single name. Cannabis isn’t new by any means. In fact, the plant itself evolved from the mountainous regions of Central Asia over 12,000 years ago. That’s right, the weed you find in dispensaries around the country is actually one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops.
When talking about the green goddess, it’s important to note that not all blunts are created equal. There are two main types of cannabis: indica and sativa. They’re each known for their unique properties and benefits. What’s the difference between these strains? In essence, indica is known for its signature “body buzz” and relaxing sensation. On the other hand, sativa is uplifting and cerebral.
No matter if you prefer indica or sativa, ganja does more than give you that characteristic buzz. It’s actually full of unexpected health benefits. This is why both strains are commonly prescribed to treat many medical conditions. Today, 84% of the public agrees the drug should be legal for medical use. From helping muscle spasms to fighting cancer, the wonder-drug we’ve been waiting for was in our college dorms this whole time.
1. Sooth Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms are a symptom of conditions like multiple sclerosis. Now, we have strong evidence that marijuana can help ease these symptoms in patients. Traditional medicine used to treat these spasms come with unwanted side effects like drowsiness and weakness. Because of this, it’s not hard to see why patients are finding relief through marijuana.
A 1997 study for multiple sclerosis patients saw nearly unanimous agreement that smoking weed reduced both pain and spasticity. This led doctors and researchers to continue researching the positive effects of this drug for everything from spinal cord injuries to seizures.
2. Improved Lung Capacity
One of the most surprising health benefits of smoking cannabis is that it actually improves lung capacity. While this seems contradictory, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that using pot actually increased lung capacity over time.
How does breathing in smoke help your lungs work better? While the research is new, it’s possible that this result is from taking deep breaths during the inhalation process. Either way, it’s pretty clear that there is no evidence that even long-term cannabis smokers will damage their lungs.
3. Slow Down Alzheimer’s Disease
If you know anyone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, you’ve seen how detrimental it can be for the entire family. Preserving memory is tricky science, but marijuana actually slows the progression of the disease. The secret is in the THC properties of certain cannabis strains. A 2006 journal study found that these active chemicals slow the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. These plaques are associated with Alzheimer’s, thus the disease can be managed at a greater level.
4. Decrease Anxiety
Struggling with anxiety can impact every area of your life. Who knew that a visit to a dispensary might be the best way to calm your brain once and for all? While it’s common knowledge that smoking marijuana will help you relax, it can actually do wonders for long-term sufferers of anxiety.
There’s an art to the perfect level of relaxation, scientists say. They call this the “Goldilocks” zone. It’s just the right amount of cannabis to create a calm mind. How many puffs are too many? Apparently, it’s different for everyone, but a small dose is usually enough to help people relax their anxiety.
5. Stop Cancer
While we haven’t yet found a cure for cancer, we might be closer than we think. There are many preliminary studies today that show THC and CBD, the active chemicals in cannabis can actually stop cancer in its tracks. In 2014, a study found that marijuana slows brain tumor growth associated with 80% of brain cancer in humans.
Many cancer patients today already use cannabis to treat symptoms associated with chemotherapy. It’s easy to see why states like California and Oregon have legalized the use of this drug for both medical and recreational use.
The Future of Cannabis
Marijuana dispensaries might be onto something. The health benefits of cannabis are far-reaching. This ancient drug has been used for centuries, and it’s clear why. It’s time to see just what weed can do when used to treat medical conditions from cancer to multiple sclerosis.
What does the future of cannabis look like? With states like California leading the way in medical research, it looks bright. Every day we are discovering the endless health properties of what many medical professionals are calling a wonder drug. No matter what you call it—weed, cannabis, ganja—we should advocate for greater research into the health potential of this ancient plant.