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New Studies Shed Light on Many Positive Effects of Medical Cannabis Use

Cannabis enthusiasts have long touted the medicinal benefits of consuming cannabis for mental and physical health and well-being. Unfortunately, because of the status of marijuana as an illegal Schedule I controlled substance with a high propensity for abuse and no accepted medicinal use, it has been challenging for the scientific community to study the potential benefits and drawbacks of medical cannabis.

Thanks to widespread medical and recreational legalization policies across numerous states in the U.S., the scientific community has greater access than ever to marijuana, allowing them to study the effects of the plant like never before. Although federal rescheduling or legalization would be the gold standard for medical and scientific fields, new studies are already shedding light on some of the positive effects of medical cannabis use. 

Study Suggests “Entourage Effect” is Legitimate

One recent study supports the long-assumed “entourage effect” of cannabis. What is the entourage effect? Before you can unravel the meaning behind the entourage effect, you need to understand the complexities of the cannabis plant. Some studies indicate that the cannabis plant may contain as many as 400 chemical compounds and at least 60 unique cannabinoid compounds with opposing effects. Although most conversations center around the two main chemical components, THC and CBD, there are several other compounds, including other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, that give cannabis strains their unique medicinal effects and flavor profiles.

One of the challenges to studying the medicinal effects of cannabis centers around these unique chemical compounds that scientists still know very little about. Due to the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, it has been historically challenging for scientists to overcome the regulatory and financial barriers that have limited cannabis research in the United States. The scientific community still understands very little about what many of the unique chemicals in cannabis do and how they interact with the human body to produce therapeutic effects.

Today, new research focusing on the numerous chemical components of cannabis plants shows that cannabinoids and terpenes play a robust role in interacting and collaborating with the human body. Thus, we come back to the entourage effect. The entourage effects suggest that the unique chemical compounds of specific cannabis plants work together to create a superior health result, diversifying the effects, benefits, and side effects of different cannabis strains.

What does that mean? It means that cannabis strains have unique and complex webs of chemical interactions that can influence marijuana’s physical and therapeutic effects on an individual. This new research that suggests the existence of the entourage effect in cannabis means the conversation expands from what CBD and THC ratios do for patients and branches out into what limonene and myrcene terpenes deliver that separates them from pinene and caryophyllene terpenes.

While more research needs to be done to understand how each chemical component interacts with other components and the human body, the study supporting the presence of the entourage effect in cannabis means that the therapeutic effects and potential benefits of cannabis strains may be more complicated than first thought. Beyond the ratios of THC and CBD found in cannabis, certain strains with higher levels of specific terpenes and cannabinoids may benefit patients battling one medical condition over another. Researchers may be able to eventually identify cannabis strains that are better suited to treating specific medical conditions, offering patients improved outcomes. 

New Study Shows That Patients Taking Cannabis Report Quality of Life Improvements

Another recently published medical study indicates that patients taking cannabis report sustained quality-of-life improvements that impact their physical and emotional well-being. Researchers assessed participants in the study at regular intervals. While most cannabis-using patients reported immediate improvements in their symptoms following cannabis consumption, they also sustained improvements for the length of the 90-day study.

Sustained improvements mean a significant increase in the overall quality of a person’s life, both physically and mentally. Reports indicate that study participants felt less physical pain and fatigue and expressed a decrease in “emotional limitations.” Beyond the obvious benefits to patients, study authors suggest that medicinal marijuana has the potential to improve physical conditions, social functioning, energy levels, and emotional well-being in addition to the overall general health benefits reported within the first 30 to 60 days of marijuana use.

Previous studies conducted in other countries have also shown how medical marijuana can help improve patient quality of life by reducing pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia while boosting energy, showing “clinically meaningful improvement.” Many of the study participants reported quality-of-life improvements associated with a decrease in the severity of adverse health conditions associated with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. At the time, study authors cautioned against taking the quality-of-life improvement results at face value, noting that some positive effects could be attributed to the placebo effect.

However, subsequent studies, including the one conducted recently by researchers with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and published by the National Library of Medicine, help to support the theory that marijuana consumption can help trigger sustained quality-of-life improvements in individuals suffering from complex medical conditions.

For thousands of years, humans have used cannabis for recreational, spiritual, and medicinal purposes. Scientists have only recently begun to try and unlock the secrets of this complicated plant and how it may benefit patients suffering from a wide array of physical and mental health conditions. As more states push for cannabis reform, more researchers may have access to cannabis and be able to study its medicinal effects. The ultimate goal of cannabis researchers would be for the federal government to reschedule or legalize marijuana, reducing the regulatory, access, and financial hurdles that prevent scientists across the country and in all disciplines from researching what many people already call a “miracle” plant.

Are you looking for more cannabis news? Check out Cannabutter Digest, your one-stop-shop for marijuana-related content like newsrecipes, and product reviews.

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