Modern studies have shown cannabis to be beneficial to people with AIDS, those undergoing cancer chemotherapy, and to people with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. More trials are being carried out in the UK at the moment - on a limited number of conditions.
Do we really need these studies? Cannabis has been used throughout history to treat a much larger range of conditions than modern studies are looking at.
The earliest written evidence is a herbal published during the reign of Chinese Emperor Chen Nung five thousand years ago which recommended cannabis for malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains, "absent-mindedness" and "female disorders". In India cannabis has been recommended to quicken the mind, lower fevers, induce sleep, cure dysentery, stimulate appetite, improve digestion, relieve headaches and cure venereal disease. In Africa it was used for dysentery, malaria and other fevers. Today certain tribes treat snakebite with cannabis or smoke it before childbirth. Cannabis was also noted as a remedy by Galen and other physicians of the classical and Hellenistic eras, and it was highly valued in medieval Europe.
During its heyday, from 1840 to 1900, more than one hundred papers were published in the Western medical literature recommending it for various illnesses and discomforts. It could be said that doctors of a century ago knew more about cannabis than contemporary doctors do; certainly they were more interested in exploring its therapeutic potential.
In the twentieth century cannabis has been proposed or shown to be useful as a medicine for many disorders and conditions. These uses range from the proven to the speculative, but they should all be of interest to anyone concerned about human suffering.
Studies on cancer patients in the US reveal that cannabis often reduces nausea and vomiting when all available prescription drugs fail to work.
Cannabis is two to three times as effective as are currently legal medicines for reducing eye pressure without toxic side-effects associated with presently used glaucoma drugs.
Smoking cannabis during pre-seizure symptoms can inhibit epileptic attacks and reduce the intensity of seizures that do occur.
Cannabis has demonstrated "powerful beneficial effects on both spasticity and ataxia."
Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
Cannabis not only relieves the pain more safely than opiates but also effectively suppresses muscle jerks and tremors.
Many patients have found that cannabis improves their quality of life, helps stabilise their weight and combat the wasting syndrome by stimulating their appetite.
Cannabis has proven analgesic properties and has none of the dangerous side effects of the alternatives - opiates and synthetic analgesics.
The analgesic effects of cannabis also help with migraines, but some research has shown that there may be additional properties.
Cannabis is not only a pain reliever, but there is some evidence that it is also anti-inflammatory.
Sufferers have found that cannabis is the only thing which prevents both the skin lesions and the itching.
PMT, Menstrual Cramps and Labour Pains
Many women say they find cannabis useful - as they have done for centuries.
Depression and other Mood Disoders
Doctors have reported that patients have successfully used cannabis to help with depression and bi- polar disorder.
Cannabis is a bronchio-dilator. That is, it widens the airways and allows a freer flow of air in and out of the lungs.
Studies show that cannabidiol and whole cannabis can improve the sleep quality of many people including some insomniacs.
Other causes of Severe Nausea
Smoked cannabis is an effective anti- emetic in many circumstances as shown by several studies.
Cannabis has been shown to produce impressive antibacterial effects and can be used for ear, burn and other infections. It can also help with herpes.
Topical Anaesthetic Effects
Cannabis is an effective topical anaesthetic, especially for the mucous membranes of the mouth and tongue.
A number of studies have shown that cannabis can reduce tumour size. Tobacco users who also use cannabis have a lower rate of lung cancer than those who do not.
Research in the 1980s showed that patients with dystonic movement disorders improved when treated with cannabidiol.
Adult Attention Deficit Disoder
Some sufferers have found that cannabis helps them cope with their disorder.
It is sometimes thought that cannabis can spark schizophrenic episodes, yet schizophrenic patients who use it generally regard it as helpful.
This is an incurable disease with many symptoms which cannabis can relieve.
Cannabis can help relieve the symptoms of this rare but often fatal disease.
Patients find that cannabis eases the symptoms and makes the prescribed medication more effective.
This is caused by high pressure of the spinal fluid and can threaten patients' sight. Cannabis lowers the pressure in the spine relieving the condition.
Patients have reported that cannabis is the only thing that relieved their symptoms.
Violence - Cannabis is well known for its calming effects in healthy people but it can also help with sufferers from aggressive disorders.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Many Vietnam and Gulf War veterans use cannabis to effectively treat PTSD.
Phantom Limb Pain
Patients have reported than cannabis is more effective than standard analgesics.
Alcoholism and Addictions
Cannabis seems to diminish the craving for alcohol or other drugs and can be used to help withdrawal.
Cannabis can relieve the aches and pains that many elderly suffer from and has been shown to help with Alzheimer's disease.
In the final stages of many illnesses, patients suffer increasing pain, nausea, weight loss, depression and anxiety. Cannabis can be very useful in these circumstances.
Getting rid of pollution by restoring clean hemp technologies will be a good start on curbing many kinds of disease. Eating hempseed regularly fortifies the defence systems of the body. In aromatherapy, the fragrance of cannabis flowers can bring psychological, even physiological, benefit.
Cannabis has been used homeopathically to treat tinnitus, urinary infections, muscle cramps, backache, dry mouth, dry vagina, tremors, pneumonia and heart palpitations.
An understated value of cannabis is as preventative medicine. People who consume cannabis regularly may never develop ailments such as glaucoma, migraines, insomnia or stress-related problems that they might otherwise have done.
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