10 Ways Pot Can Make You Healthier
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A spate of recent studies on the efficacy of marijuana for various medical uses has confirmed what many people have known for thousands of years: that pot can help cure what ails you. “The biggest myth is that it’s dangerous — that, on some level, it’s poison,” Michael Backes, author of “Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana,” due out in September, tells Yahoo Health. “There’s a fear that it can make you crazy, or that you will become a slacker and won’t be able to participate in the American Dream, because you’ll be on the couch eating Cheetos.”
It’s a notion, Backes says, that can be partly traced to the “Reefer Madness” era of the ’30s, which led to the American Medical Association’s losing bid to keep cannabis as part of the official US Pharmacopeia in 1942. And, although it’s now changing, because of shifting attitudes and laws (currently 22 states and D.C. allow medical marijuana), it’s been difficult to make studies happen. That’s partially because the only legal source of marijuana for research is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which favors studies on the drug’s negative effects, he says. But it’s also because of the nature of cannabis itself, which is made up of hundreds of chemicals and can be used to treat a range of issues, which is problematic. “Our system of choosing medicine in the US is based on the idea of a single chemical and a single target in the body, and clinical trials are designed around it,” Backes explains. “Anything outside that box makes the FDA nuts, because it’s not the system.” Still, various bits of research — and a stream of anecdotal evidence — have shown Mary Jane to be effective for the following:
Appetite loss: A small 2011 study published in the Annals of Oncology found that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, appears to help trigger the appetite of patients with advanced cancer — though it’s been widely used since the early days of AIDS, Backes says, and is recognized as an appetite stimulant in ancient Chinese and Indian medicine traditions (which won’t sound shocking to anyone who’s ever had the munchies).