Natural vs Synthetic Medicines
Mother nature typically provides us with all of our most basic needs. We can and have found food and water, the essentials for life, out in the wild for centuries. Yet, we’ve often drifted away from nature when it comes to dealing with things that rob us of life. Whether it’s diseases, disorders, or defects we have over time grown more familiar with the makings of science for protecting or healing ourselves. Ironically, many people today are adamant loyalist to the most natural or “organic” of foods for fuel. Yet, when it comes to our maintenance, why is the choice often things that are synthetic or man-made? Why not use those things provided by nature to address our everyday health issues?
Medical cannabis is a good example of a natural product that may produce excellent results for issues that are currently being treated with pills.
Anxiety… Can medical cannabis help?
One of the biggest issue affecting millions today is anxiety. In the early 80s, “anxiety disorder” became a popular diagnosis for mental illness. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the authority on mental illness, around 3% of the world’s population had some form of anxiety disorder. Today, that number according to many publications is around 16%; about 1 in 6 people.
Now most people address anxiety issues with a number of medications with varying degrees of success. From Xanax to Valium to Ativan, these benzodiazepines work on the central nervous system shutting off certain receptors and neurons in the brain. But what about the rest of your body? Anxiety definitely starts in the brain but you can feel it throughout your body. Many times it will wreak havoc on the body long after the mental pain is gone. So just shutting off a small part of your brain isn’t always the best option. Yet, when it comes to using an natural alternative like marijuana, many claim all around success. They state that they not only decrease mental anguish caused by anxiety but feel an overall release of stress and improved bodily functions.
A California poll in 2011 states:
“Applicants most frequently reported using medical marijuana for pain relief (82.6%), improved sleep (70.6%), and relaxation (55.6%). The next most frequently reported benefits included relief of muscle spasms (41.3%), headache (40.8%), relief of anxiety (38.1%), … Half the applicants (50.8%) reported using marijuana as a substitute for prescription medication.”
What about opiates? Can medical cannabis help?
Opiates have been an option to treat mental issues since the 50’s. Their highly addictive reputation along with their fatal ability to shut down one’s breathing has made them much less of a go-to for mental health doctors and even those who deal with chronic pain. In 2011, a study at the UC San Francisco showed that many patients with chronic pain actually experienced greater relief from pain when using medical marijuana as well. Consequently, when medical marijuana was a part of their daily medication, versus taking opiates only, they showed an ability to help wean patients off opiates completely or to very low amounts.
Is Marijuana Addicting?
So, is pot itself addicting? When it comes to the notion that pot users are a bunch of lazy addicts a lot of that is due in large part to movie classics like Dazed and Confused and Half Baked where recreation is the only reason for using pot. Consequently the stereotypes began which were usually overblown and obnoxious. This also gives the impression that the user can’t function without it and when they’re on it their functions aren’t optimal.
“Marijuana use disorder” is a condition that will appear to be an addiction when a person is incapable of quitting its use even when while knowing it’s adversely affecting their life. Exact numbers of persons addicted to marijuana are a bit sketchy. In part because studies on addiction often require dependence though it’s possible to dependent while not necessarily being an addict. While the data can be at times unreliable, the numbers usually hover around 9-10% of people who use cannabis and become dependent. That number rises significantly if one starts using in their teen years.
The early data looks promising for marijuana as an option for addressing many mental problems. Let’s hope this also helps address the stigma of marijuana use as well.
- 2011 California Poll – National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- 2014 Vanderbilt Study (Marijuana reducing anxiety) – https://news.vanderbilt.edu/
2014/03/06/discovery-sheds-new -light-on-marijuana-anxiety-re lief-effects/
- 2015 NIDA study on addiction to Marijuana – https://www.drugabuse.gov/pu
- 2011 UCSF Study Marijuana > Opiates for Chronic Back Pain – https://www.ucsf.edu/news/20
11/12/11077/ucsf-study-finds-m edical-marijuana-could-help-pa tients-reduce-pain-opiates