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Medical Cannabis: Impact on the Body

Cannabis, notoriously known worldwide for recreational use, is gaining traction as a potent therapeutic agent in several medical conditions. Referred to as medical cannabis, it's derived from the cannabis plant and is prescribed by doctors for treating various ailments. But how does this controversial plant affect our bodies' physiology? And what processes does it influence? In this article, we'll walk you through an in-depth exploration of medical cannabis and its impact on the body.

Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System

To understand how medical cannabis affects our bodies, we need to first understand cannabinoids – the biologically active compounds found in cannabis – and our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoids affect our ECS, a complex cell-signaling system critical for maintaining physiological balance. The ECS regulates an abundance of biological processes including pain sensation, appetite, mood, and sleep.

Noteworthy cannabinoids include Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychoactive and responsible for the notorious ‘high’ associated with cannabis consumption. CBD, on the other hand, offers some therapeutic benefits without the high, making it a preferred choice in medical cannabis formulations.

Impacts on Body Functions

When you consume medical cannabis, cannabinoids interact with the ECS receptors, influencing various body functions. Here's how:

  • Appetite Improvement: Medical cannabis is known to stimulate appetite, making it beneficial for individuals suffering from diseases that suppress appetite such as HIV/AIDS or certain cancers.
  • Reduction of Inflammation and Pain: The pain-relieving properties of medical cannabis make it a preferred choice in managing chronic pain conditions and diseases characterised by inflammation such as arthritis.
  • Anxiety Alleviation: Several studies indicate the potential of medical cannabis in managing anxiety disorders.
  • Mood Enhancement: Certain cannabinoids affect mood-regulating hormones, making them potentially beneficial in treating mood disorders.

Interaction with Other Medications

Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC can influence the effectiveness of other medications. Therefore, it's crucial to discuss possible interactions with a specialised health professional before commencing medical cannabis treatments.

Side Effects of Medical Cannabis

Like any other medication, medical cannabis can have side effects. These may include nausea, fatigue, mood changes, dizziness, and dry mouth. Moreover, long-term use can lead to cognitive impairments and potential substance dependency challenges.

Conditions Medical Cannabis Can Treat

Medical cannabis finds its application in an array of health conditions. These include chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer-associated symptoms, HIV/AIDS-related symptoms, and multiple sclerosis. Despite its therapeutic promise, more rigorous research is needed to affirm these effects and reveal further potential applications.

Responsible Consumption

Despite its various health benefits, medical cannabis carries some risks. Therefore, it's essential to consult a healthcare provider familiar with medical cannabis before starting any regimen. Medical cannabis should be used responsibly following prescribed dosage guidelines to minimise side effects and ensure effectiveness.

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