8 Health Benefits of Marijuana

Woman smoking marijuana cigarette smiling and wearing jewelry

Written By: Brianna Snyder

I’m not a pot smoker. That’s a weird thing to say at the beginning of an article about what weed can do for you.

Hear me out.

Pot makes me paranoid. Not like in a cops-are-after-me way, more like in a “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” way. It makes me want to hide in a hole until it all goes away.

Because the thing about weed is you can’t really do anything to ameliorate your high. If you’ve had too much to drink, you can chug a few glasses of water, eat some pizza, and more or less bring yourself back. With pot, bam, you’re high and you’re stuck that way for as long as whatever strain you picked up dictates.

OK, but that’s one experience of pot-smoking (or pot-vaping, or pot-snacking), and it isn’t everyone’s. Here’s what changed my own relationship to marijuana:


The discovery of CBD.

There I was in Portland, Oregon, at a dispensary run by a very friendly and very knowledgeable pot salesman, who only took cash and explained to me the differences between the two different chemicals found in marijuana. If you know this already, you can skip this part.

 

CBD:

Aka cannabidiol. When you smoke CBD, you don’t feel high, but the drug works in miraculous ways on the body--to treat pain, seizures, even symptoms of cancer. It offers relief without the swimmy-headedness (or addictive properties) of an opioid or the freaked-out feeling of being high (if you’re a freakout person).

 

THC:

Aka tetrahydrocannabinol. The THC in any strain of marijuana is what makes you high. It’s also used in pain relief and other things (which we’ll get into below).


Now, there are countless strains of marijuana out there that combine varying levels of each of these chemicals. And most strains contain a combination of CBD and THC. I picked up an 80 percent CBD/20 percent THC strain when I was in Portland that made me feel exactly like I’d taken a bath and a Xanax, but I wasn’t sleepy. It was magic.

So, now that medical marijuana is legal in 31 states (and Washington, D.C.), the move to legalize it nationally is well underway (84 percent of Americans approve of it). And, of course, recreational marijuana also has popular support--61 percent of people in the U.S. approve and nine states have legalized it for recreational use.

Which means we’re learning more and more about what marijuana can do for our health. Here’s a list of all of the benefits of toking and snacking on pot.


medical marijuana leaf illustration

1. It alleviates pain 

You probably already knew that. Some studies even show that marijuana is an effective combatant in the opioid epidemic, slowing and preventing overdoses and providing a necessary alternative to pain relief.


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2. It can prevent seizures and muscle tremors

Medical marijuana has been prescribed to treat epilepsy, and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. It’s also the only known treatment for diaphragm spasms.


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3. Um, it doesn’t appear to hurt your lungs

It’s insane, and it’s true. The Journal of the American Medical Association found that “Low to moderate users actually showed increased lung capacity compared to nonsmokers on two tests, known as FEV1 and FVC. FEV1 is the amount of air someone breathes out in the first second after taking the deepest possible breath; FVC is the total volume of air exhaled after the deepest inhalation.

The theory is that those big breaths a lot of smokers take to hold in the marijuana could be the reason for increased capacity. Which is pretty wild.


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4. Stress relief

This is where that CBD comes in super handy, calming your nerves with its secret body high and keeping your brain safe from alteration. CBD helps relieve stress and anxiety.


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5. CBD can also help with PTSD

According to High Times, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects nearly 8 percent of all Americans, and women are twice as likely as men to suffer from it. So finding a legal, affordable, and effective treatment for it is crucial for that 8 percent of people to live their lives.

CBD has helped some of those affected deal with their traumatic memories, helping them work, have relationships, and otherwise function normally.


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6. It can reduce inflammation

Toss your ibuprofen!

Well, maybe not. But consider cannabis as an alternative. Both THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory properties; the CBD binds with the endocannabinoid system to produce a response that reduces nerve inflammation.


marijuana stops cancer stethoscope

7. It may stop cancer from spreading

CBD at it again! The chemical has proved effective at stopping metastasis in some aggressive cancers--brain, breast, prostate--with no harm done to the animals they tested it on. Clinical trials are underway.


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8. It soothes the tummy

Pot has helped relieve symptoms of IBS, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease and is, famously, tremendously helpful for nausea. However, while it has helped these conditions, apparently more research is needed.