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Illinois Doctor Discusses the Health Benefits from Marijuana

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WGN Radio recently featured Dr. Kevin Most and asked him about medical marijuana. One of the questions asked was: does marijuana have a place in medicine?

The doctor points out that marijuana is interesting because of how many medical conditions it’s proven to help, WGN Radio reports.

Medical marijuana is more effective than some pharmaceuticals and traditional treatments for some people. He discusses how some still believe that marijuana is a gateway drug. Marijuana isn’t a drug that makes the user “chase that high” like opiates and harmful street drugs do.

Dr. Most mentioned that medical marijuana has helped some with opiate addictions stop using the opiates – including one rather well known case involving Jim McMahon. McMahon has been open about his medical marijuana use and how it helped him stop taking painkillers.

Opioid overdose deaths have decreased in states where medical marijuana is legal. Dr. Most suggests that the “gateway drug” argument may be the opposite.

Some of the health conditions discussed by Dr. Most, that show medical marijuana’s beneficial treatment, include nausea, stimulates appetite for those with ailments that prevent them from eating (like chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients). The doctor also points out that the side effects of some medications are undesired and medical marijuana does not carry those side effects.

Medications fabricated or based on THC are costly, more expensive than actual medical marijuana in many cases.

Glaucoma is caused by pressure on the eyeball, and often leads to blindness. The pressure on the optic nerve is what causes blindness in glaucoma. Using medical marijuana helps reduce that pressure and slows the progression of glaucoma. These findings have been known since the 1970s.

CBD has been studied to show decreased seizures in seizure disorders, as has THC. THC and CBD are able to bind to receptors in the brain to relax the brain and reduce/stop muscle spasms. Traditional medication isn’t an option for every seizure disorder patient – especially those with intractable seizure disorders that are resistant to traditional medication. Research regarding medical marijuana and seizure disorders is ongoing.

Another ailment Dr. Most discussed is anxiety – which included PTSD. Although controversial, medical marijuana has helped several people reduce anxiety and PTSD (what it takes here is research and reading strain descriptions to ensure that a negative effect is not anxiety or paranoia).

Medical marijuana shows promise for protecting the brain, and as Dr. Most points out – not everyone understands why or how it protects the brain. There are several studies that are ongoing – but medical marijuana (high in CBD or CBD only) is a neuroprotectant, meaning that it can help limit brain damage, and help the brain heal from an injury. CBD has also been studied to show that it can help slow the progression in aging diseases (like Alzheimer’s disease) as it helps scrub away the dead brain cells to reduce brain clutter and return clarity (cognitive function).

Dr. Most talked about studies taking place in England where results show that THC helps cells in the intestines to improve gut function (calms an angry gut), so for those with conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis – it may be a treatment option.

A study conducted in 2011 shows that medical marijuana reduces arthritis pain and inflammation. Arthritis sufferers reported less pain and better sleep. Current arthritis medications are very hard on the stomach and are expensive.

For those questioning how medical marijuana is prescribed in Illinois, Dr. Most pointed out that a referral has to be written by a physician. The referral has to be submitted to the state and it will be approved or denied at the state level. Doctors writing recommendations are expected to follow up with their patients to determine whether medical marijuana is helping them or not.