Top 9 Benefits of Cannabis for Your Health and Wellbeing
The earliest written record of cannabis’s medicinal effects dates back to 5,000 years ago, when Chinese emperor Shen-Nung recommended consuming the herb for ailments including malaria, constipation, rheumatism and menstrual pains. When we use cannabis for medicinal purposes, we’re not doing anything new—our ancestors around the world cultivated the herb for millennia before it was ever legalized, prohibited or regulated at all. Today, modern scientific knowledge and cutting-edge techniques of extraction and consumption have made the health benefits of cannabis more accessible and well understood than ever before.
How Does Cannabis Work?
When we talk about cannabis, it’s necessary to make the distinction between physical and psychological health. It’s important to separate the two because cannabis can affect both. The cannabis plant contains over 60 natural cannabinoids, the most well known of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These interact directly with the endocannabinoid system to produce a wide range of outcomes, from physical effects like reducing inflammation or pain to psychological ones like inducing calm, euphoria, sleepiness or concentration.
9 Benefits of Cannabis
Together, cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds found in the cannabis plant can deliver powerful and natural benefits for users. In this article, we’re going to explore some of the direct health benefits that cannabis can offer. Of course, there are many more possible indirect effects of cannabis use—from reducing your alcohol intake to improving your interpersonal relationships—that we won’t get into here.
(1) Help Sleeping
50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. At Solful, the most common question our health and happiness consultants get asked is: how can I get a better night’s sleep? The answer is complicated, but many people have found that cannabis products can help them sleep more and sleep better. Research has suggested that THC, as well as its lesser-known sister compound CBN, can help you fall asleep, offering rapid sedative effects depending on the dose. For staying asleep, THC has been found to promote slow-wave rest, the phase that’s most important for regeneration and recovery. CBD has also been shown to alleviate symptoms of REM Behavior Disorder (RBD), another condition that can negatively impact sleep.Many people find that combining the three compounds (with, for example, a 1:1 gummy, the appropriate flower or concentrate or a sleep-specific tincture or tea) is the magic ticket to a great night’s rest—with none of the side effects of prescription medications.
(2) Pain Relief
The most common use of medical cannabis in the U.S. is for managing pain. There’s strong evidence from studies by the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research and others that the THC and CBD in cannabis help reduce inflammation and neuropathic pain, without the potential for dependence of opioids or the side effects of over-the-counter painkillers. New studies have isolated the compounds that may be responsible for cannabis’ pain-relieving properties. CBDA, the precursor to CBD found in the live cannabis plant, and THCA, the same for THC, are two non-psychoactive cannabinoids that have been found to help with pain. Thanks to new extraction and curing techniques, cannabis users searching for pain relief can now find products that emphasize these two cannabinoids specifically or in combination with THC and CBD, offering targeted pain management in psychoactive or non-psychoactive forms.
(3) Stress and Anxiety Relief
With an appropriate dose and delivery method, both THC and CBD can help users manage symptoms of stress and anxiety. Given that over 18% of Americans suffer from at least one anxiety disorder, cannabis offers a compelling alternative to prescription medications or self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. Besides ample anecdotal evidence, several trials strongly suggest that CBD may be an effective treatment for anxiety-related disorders including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive behavior and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Of course, if you’ve ever overindulged in cannabis, you may disagree. Large doses of THC can provoke anxiety while small doses prevent or reduce it. That’s because THC is biphasic, meaning it can have opposite effects at different dosages—which is why it’s so important to experiment and find out for yourself what works for you.
When your immune system goes into overdrive, it causes inflammation. The process is natural, but excessive or chronic inflammation can cause back pain, headaches, bowel disorders and many other issues. Cannabinoids are able to regulate and balance the response of the immune system by bonding with receptors—specifically the CB2 receptor, which plays a crucial role in inhibiting inflammation. This is why consuming cannabinoids in either psychoactive or non-psychoactive forms can offer benefits for anyone who suffers from chronic inflammation.
(5) Managing Chronic Disease
Cannabis and cannabis products are used by sufferers of chronic disease throughout the world. They can help with symptoms from anxiety to chronic pain and migraines. Two THC-based medications, dronabinol and nabilone, are already prescribed regularly in the U.S. to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. Early studies also show that cannabinoids can be effective in addressing the symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, slowing the progress of glaucoma, reducing inflammation associated with arthritis and managing other chronic illnesses.
Cannabis triggers the body’s CB1 receptors, stimulating the appetite. Because cannabis is one of nature’s most powerful anti-emetics, it also suppresses nausea and, at the same time, powers up the metabolism. Many people undergoing chemotherapy, for example, have successfully used cannabis in psychoactive and non-psychoactive forms to help them overcome nausea and eat—harnessing the common phenomenon known as “the munchies” for good use.
On the other hand, some forms of cannabis can actually reduce your appetite. THCV is a little-known cannabinoid that can actually block the body’s CB1 receptors—potentially moderating some effects of THC at low doses and, according to some studies, suppressing the appetite. Researchers are still exploring the effects of THCV on the endocannabinoid system, but preclinical research has suggested that it may have a broad range of potential uses.
(7) Mood Stabilization
THC, with its psychoactive effects, is known for inducing feelings of joy and happiness. CBD, which is non-psychoactive, has a naturally calming effect on many people. Combine those two with the plethora of minor cannabinoids, each with their own set of nuanced effects, and it’s clear why cannabis is a go-to choice for people looking to relax, unwind and uplift their mood—without the negative physical effects of drinking alcohol.
(8) Muscle Recovery
Cannabis is considered a performance enhancer by the World Anti-Doping Agency, who say that it “can cause muscle relaxation and reduce/decrease anxiety and tension pain during post-workout recovery.” While we don’t agree that the plant should be banned for athletes, they have a point: the pleasant feeling of relaxation that spreads through the body when the appropriate cannabis product is inhaled or ingested can offer positive impacts on recovery both physically and psychologically. People who live active lifestyles and experience sore muscles can benefit from a cannabinoid rich topical application (i.e. a balm, cream, salve, etc), or consume CBD or THC products as part of their recovery.
Cannabis can deliver an improvement in cognitive function, with some users reporting enhanced memory recall, focus and concentration. Don’t go overboard, though—cannabis compounds have biphasic properties, meaning that the effects of low doses and high doses can differ dramatically. That’s why a little cannabis can help you focus, but a lot might do the opposite. Researchers have suggested that the focus-inducing properties of cannabis may be linked to its ability to reduce anxiety and chronic pain, which have been shown to impede attention span and executive functioning. Context is important, however, and cannabis should never be used while driving or operating machinery.
Reap the Many Benefits of Cannabis
People have been using cannabis for its health benefits for thousands of years. If you’re struggling with pain, insomnia, anxiety or a chronic illness, cannabis may be able to help you. Consult with your doctor to determine if cannabis is right for you and what type of product will best meet your needs. If you’re ready to start your cannabis journey, shop Solful’s products online or in store today.
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