Are you healthy but interested to learn how cannabis could help improve your quality of life, overall health and wellness? This blog is designed to help you understand how cannabis can be used as a supplementary medicine for people who are not ‘sick’ but want to harness the power and potential of the cannabis plant. It is becoming more and more evident that having a healthy endocannabinoid system (ECS) may help treat or even possibly help prevent many health problems.
There are a number of people who believe that all cannabis use is medical. To those who support this view, there is no such thing as “recreational” cannabis. One such person is one of the fathers of the medical marijuana movement in California, Dennis Peron. Dennis so firmly believed in this idea that he even opposed California Propositions 19 and 64, which would have legalized recreational cannabis.
Table of contents
- Key Takeaways
- Did Dennis Peron have a point – is all marijuana use medical?
- Stress: the hidden killer
- How does cannabis help beat stress?
- Could Cannabis Be a Preventative Medication? 10 Ways It Could Be
- Could recreational cannabis users be self-medicating?
- Is there a “best” cannabis strain or product for general health and wellness?
- Is it OK to smoke cannabis for health?
- How do I maximize the medical benefits of cannabis?
- Cannabinoids can help beat stress, which is a major symptom (and cause) of many more serious illnesses, and is linked to depression and anxiety.
- Stress can have a significant impact on the length of a person’s life and reduce longevity, directly and indirectly.
- Cannabinoids could potentially help protect and even rebuild receptors in the brain.
- Cannabinoids like CBD may help slow the progress of artherosclerosis and even protect against heart attacks.
- Cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is linked to both stress and a cause or symptom (aetiology) of many different conditions.
- CBD has antipsychotic properties.
- Non-medical cannabinoid use may be best for those who are aged over 25.
Did Dennis Peron have a point – is all marijuana use medical?
Ever since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its role in homeostasis, as well as the concept of Dr. Ethan Russo’s clinical endocannabinoid deficiency – the idea that many health problems are caused by or result in a lack of the body producing its own natural cannabinoids (in particular, anandamide and 2-AG) – there is some logic to Dennis’s beliefs.
If cannabinoids are keeping the body in balance and helping overcome everyday aches and pains of life – sprains & strains, tension headaches, sleepless nights and lack of appetite – then it could be said that cannabis has plenty of health and wellness benefits beyond the purely medical.
However, there are some important things to consider when talking about medical cannabis. Just as with any medication, dosage and remaining functional in everyday life is key. Non-medical use does not necessarily take these factors into consideration. When we are thinking of using cannabis for wellness, we must step away from thinking of cannabis as a purely “recreational” substance (i.e. it becomes more than just a method of enjoyment). Whether it’s from a general wellness aspect or a medical aspect, taking proper dosage and responsible usage is of utomost importance is we want to get the most out of the cannabis plant.
Stress: the hidden killer
Being under heavy stress can shorten life expectancy by 2.8 years. Whilst some stress is expected and even useful, chronic stress can lead to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Other problems associated with stress include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased likelihood of stroke
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Headaches & migraine
- Upset stomach and an exacerbation of bowel problems such as IBS
- Low energy & fatigue
- More frequent colds, flu and other infections
- Lack of sexual desire/ability
These other problems can cause further reductions in life expectancy, and heavy stress could be seen as one of the main causes of all of them. Therefore, reducing stress can decrease the chances of developing another health problem and increase life expectancy.
How does cannabis help beat stress?
There is good evidence showing that both THC and CBD can reduce anxiety, depression and stress. Some reports suggest that low doses of THC are most effective for stress reduction, as larger doses may make some individuals more anxious. The stress-reduction aspects of cannabis are most pronounced in those who use it regularly, as they have a blunted stress reactivity to the stress hormone cortisol. Cannabis may not only reduce stress, but also increase resilience to it.
Could Cannabis Be a Preventative Medication? 10 Ways It Could Be
“Preventive medicine: Medical practices that are designed to avert and avoid disease. For example, screening for hypertension and treating it before it causes disease is good preventive medicine. Preventive medicine takes a proactive approach to patient care.” Source: MedicineNet
It would be nice to say “Yes, cannabis is a preventative medicine”, but the fact is the bar to reach for a medication to be called “preventative” is quite high. Yet, there are several key pieces that cannabinoids could be a preventative medicine to some extent, including:
- A report published in Cancer Prevention Research reported that “10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell cancer.”
- The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis make it a great recovery tool for post-exercise inflammation and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, type-I diabetes and lupus.
- Cannabis may help prevent obesity and type-II diabetes, where cannabis users show lower body-mass index (BMI). There could other confounding factors to this (exercise and diet), but cannabinoids like THCV can potentially help curb hunger.
- Topical CBD may be useful for skin conditions like eczema and acne, and reduce signs of ageing like wrinkles, bags and stretch marks.
- Aiding the basics to living a healthy life – eating well, sleeping well, exercising, stress relief and recovery – could be said to be a preventative measure from the development of many diseases.
- Low doses of cannabinoids can help stimulate the creation of new nerve cells in the brain (neurogenesis), helping treat and possibly even prevent neurological conditions like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The neurogenic effects of cannabis may also help it treat stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Low doses of cannabinoids may slow the progression of atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the arteries), which could lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Another animal study shows that CBD may help protect the heart during heart attacks.
- CBD may help spur the production of new bone-cell formation, making it very useful for treating fractures and reducing the chance of further fractures.
- Fewer side-effects compared to many prescription and even over-the-counter drugs.
- Antipsychotic effects of CBD – those who are prone to psychosis may find some relief from CBD, which also buffers the psychoactive effects of THC.
Could recreational cannabis users be self-medicating?
There are many people who go undiagnosed when it comes to certain health problems. In some instances, the person may know or suspect they have a particular condition, but prefer not to treat it with prescription medications, knowing that they can manage their condition themselves to a certain extent. In other instances, a person may not be able to clearly identify a specific health problem but see notable improvements when it comes to their quality of life after using cannabis.
It is not unusual for someone who has used cannabis for some time to realise that their use has always been medical, it’s just that they were undiagnosed when they were younger.
Is there a “best” cannabis strain or product for general health and wellness?
This very much depends on the individual. What works for one person may not work for another, even if they both suffer from the same condition. This is because everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different, and could even be as unique as one’s own fingerprint or DNA! However, there can still be some broad-range similarities between two people of a similar physiological type, where more fine-tuning regarding dosage is required as opposed to an entirely different product or cannabinoid-terpene ratio.
As for whether there is any best product for health and wellness, a good place to start could be a 1:1 THC:CBD tincture or flower that has a broad cannabinoid-terpene profile. If you are concerned about psychoactive effects, then start with a higher CBD ratio, so something like a CBD:THC ratio of 20:1, then working down until you find the ideal ratio for you and your needs.
CBD-rich ratios will lower the likelihood of a panic or anxiety attack from overconsumption of THC and generally prove most tolerable. Microdosing 2 to 3 times a day may be ideal, although some may prefer a more CBD-rich strain in the morning to remain functional. Microdosing small amounts of THC at night can help sleep.
Those who don’t like the effects of THC may opt for CBD instead, but it is important to remember that you needn’t use psychoactive amounts of THC in order to take advantage of its therapeutic benefits such as increasing appetite and helping you get to sleep. THC could also help increase CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects, thereby increasing CBD’s potency overall.
Is it OK to smoke cannabis for health?
Although there are some studies showing that cannabis smoke is not as carcinogenic as tobacco smoke, it is still an area of concern, as inhaling smoke from the burning matter of any kind can be harmful to the lungs, mouth and throat. Other concerns include the quality of the cannabis and ensuring it is free of pesticides, pathogens and pollutants.
Because of this, we’d recommend using tinctures and microdosing until you feel comfortable your therapeutic zone is reached. Using a high-quality vaporizer such as a Volcano is a reasonable alternative for those who require immediate effects. Inhalers are another alternative.
Avoid using unofficial, black market vape products, as they are far more likely to contain contaminants and use vitamin E acetate. If you must vape, it is probably best to stick to vaping raw flowers, using a vaporizer of your own. For concentrates, a vaporizer with a specially-built atomizer is probably ideal. There are good-quality pre-filled vapes out there, but there is going to be some level of risk with such products. Pre-filled, disposable vaporizers from dispensaries are generally far better quality, athough some improvements can still be made in this area.
How do I maximize the medical benefits of cannabis?
Here’s a some simple, general tricks:
- Non-medical use is probably better when you’re older than when you’re younger.
- Microdose THC for its stress-busting and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Use more balanced THC:CBD profiles to mitigate some of THC’s negative effects whilst still getting its benefits.
- Use cannabis with a broad spectrum of terpenes – pinene can also help mitigate some of THC’s negative effects.
- Consider what you need to use cannabis for. Need help getting to sleep? Want to use it as a workout recovery and an alternative to NSAIDS? Fuelling your appetite (or even reducing it with THCV)? Set a target, and see if the way you use cannabis is helping you achieve it, much like the way you would do with exercise.
Cannabis for Health: Overall
The fact is that stress is the number one proxy killer, and the American Medical Association (AMA) noted that stress is the basic cause for up to 60% of all human illnesses and diseases. Cannabis’ stress-busting and anti-inflammatory effects could mean that it is immensely useful as a way of preventing other health problems and can integrated effectively into a healthy and active lifestyle when used appropriately.