Experts highlight cannabis benefits: pain relief, anxiety management, neurological support, and sleep aid.
In recent years, the medicinal properties of cannabis have garnered increased attention, sparking discussions among experts and the general public alike. As attitudes towards cannabis evolve and scientific research advances, a growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis may offer a range of health benefits.
One of the most well-established health benefits of cannabis is its efficacy in managing pain, particularly chronic pain conditions. According to experts, cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to modulate pain perception and inflammation. Studies have shown that cannabis-derived products, such as CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), may offer relief from neuropathic pain, arthritis, migraines, and other forms of chronic pain.
Dr. Ethan Russo, a prominent neurologist and cannabis researcher, notes that cannabis-based medicines have shown promise in alleviating various types of pain, with fewer adverse effects compared to conventional pain medications. Additionally, Dr. Russo highlights the potential synergy between cannabinoids and other pain-relieving compounds, such as terpenes, which contribute to the overall analgesic effects of cannabis.
Anxiety and Mental Health
Another area of interest for cannabis researchers is its potential role in managing anxiety disorders and improving mental health outcomes. While some studies suggest that cannabis use may exacerbate anxiety symptoms in certain individuals, others point to the anxiolytic properties of CBD and specific cannabis strains.
Dr. Staci Gruber, a neuroscientist and director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital, emphasizes the need for further research to elucidate the complex relationship between cannabis and anxiety. Dr. Gruber’s research indicates that CBD-rich cannabis products may mitigate anxiety symptoms and promote emotional well-being, offering a potential alternative or adjunct to traditional pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders.
Cannabis has also shown promise in the treatment of neurological disorders, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a leading epilepsy specialist and researcher, has conducted groundbreaking studies on the anticonvulsant effects of CBD in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
According to Dr. Devinsky, CBD-based medications, such as Epidiolex, have demonstrated remarkable efficacy in reducing seizure frequency and improving seizure control in patients with severe forms of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Moreover, ongoing research suggests that cannabis may exert neuroprotective effects and modulate neuroinflammation, offering potential benefits for individuals with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
For individuals struggling with sleep disorders, cannabis may offer a natural remedy for improving sleep quality and duration. Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained physician and cannabis therapeutics specialist, highlights the sedative effects of certain cannabis strains and cannabinoids, particularly THC.
Dr. Tishler explains that THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors to induce relaxation and promote sleep onset. However, he cautions against excessive THC consumption, which may disrupt sleep architecture and lead to tolerance and dependence over time. Instead, Dr. Tishler recommends low-dose THC formulations or CBD-dominant products for individuals seeking sleep support without the psychoactive effects of THC.