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Did you know that medical cannabis is legal in Australia? Prescribed in oil, capsule, cream and flower form, there is a multitude of conditions that medical cannabis can help with, Dr Suzanne Graham explains.
You may have heard about medical cannabis when it was legalised in Australia in 2016. Or maybe you even know someone who uses it. However, have you ever thought about how it may help you or someone you care about? The receptors that it works on are found throughout the body, meaning that it can help in so many different conditions, including some that you never may have guessed.
The use of medicinal cannabis products including oils, capsules, creams and flowers has increased rapidly in Australia since 2016. It has been available in places such as America and Canada for even longer. A lot of people have found medicinal cannabis to be a game changer for their medical conditions. They are advocating for a reduction in stigma and an increase in awareness of what it can do. From anxiety to sleeping issues and chronic pain, find out how medicinal cannabis may be able to help you.
How does medical cannabis work?
Before we move on to how it can help, it’s important to understand why medical cannabis may help. Throughout each person’s body, is a system called the endocannabinoid system which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (balance) in the body. Many people with health conditions will be in a heightened state. This means that their body is in a state of overactivity which can lead to their symptoms. The body produces natural molecules (endocannabinoids) similar to those that are found in the cannabis plant. These help to decrease this heightened state by binding to receptors throughout the body.
This encourages the body to relax and decrease the nerve signals that are causing the patient to experience symptoms – for example pain or anxiety. Some experts believe that some people may not be able to produce enough of these natural molecules. This is where the molecules in medicinal cannabis can help this system to work better to maintain balance and decrease unwanted symptoms.
Here are 5 health conditions medical cannabis can help with:
Finding it hard to get your beauty sleep? You’re not the only one! A recent study from the Sleep Health Foundation showed over half of Australians report at least one chronic sleep issue. Sleep is a critical to our health and wellbeing. Studies show that lack of sleep can affect how we think, how we feel and can even increase our risk of physical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Insomnia even increases mortality from heart attacks and strokes compared to those who have a good night’s sleep.
Sleep issues are one of the conditions that medicinal cannabis can help with. Research has shown that medicinal cannabis can improve sleep quality with minimal side effects.
At least one in five Australians struggle with their mental health, with conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. Struggling with mood can affect many different areas of an individual’s life including personal relationships, career and physical health. Many people have found cannabis products helpful for managing mood and improving their day to day life.
3. Women’s Health
Medicinal cannabis can help with painful periods, menopause symptoms and endometriosis. Did you know about 1 in 9 women in Australia will be diagnosed with endometriosis at some point in their lives? It can lead to a lot of pelvic pain, discomfort during sexual intercourse and bowel issues. A range of products have been developed specifically with women’s health in mind, including pessaries and creams. Many patients report improvement in a range of associated symptoms.
4. Pain Management
Arthritis, old injuries, migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, muscular issues, nerve problems, cancer – the list of things that can cause pain seems endless sometimes. Many people suffer with chronic pain due to many different reasons, which can often be very difficult to get on top of. Painkillers can have unwanted side effects and sometimes aren’t enough to stop the pain. Many patients report an improvement in pain control with medicinal cannabis. This is due to the important part that the endocannabinoid system plays in modulating pain and inflammation.
5. Skin Conditions
Did you know that the receptors that cannabis works on are even found in your skin? This means that cannabis products may be able to help you with acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and even itchy skin. There are so many factors can cause a flare in skin conditions – including stress and inflammation. There are oils that work throughout the body to decrease stress and inflammation, as well as topical creams which can decrease pain, itch, redness and inflammation directly at the site of the skin problem.
Several studies have shown a significant reduction in various symptoms reported by patients, including the conditions we have discussed, as well as others that we don’t highlight in this article. These include seizures, nausea and vomiting, autism, weight control, aggression, muscle spasms plus many more.
They have also shown that patients using medicinal cannabis report an improvement in their quality of life. Dr Suzanne Graham first became interested in medicinal cannabis after seeing its effect on palliative and cancer care patients.
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