- What other names is Marijuana known by?
- What is Marijuana?
- How does Marijuana work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there any interactions with medications?
- Dosing considerations for Marijuana.
Some people use marijuana recreationally to create a sense of well being or to alter the senses. It is either taken by mouth or smoked (inhaled).
Marijuana is also taken by mouth for medicinal purposes. A cannabinoid from marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is used in the prescription-only, FDA-approved product dronabinol (Marinol) for the treatment of weight loss or appetite loss due to AIDS and for nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. Cannabinoids are at least as effective as some conventional medications for nausea, including prochlorperazine (Compazine), metoclopramide (Reglan), chlorpromazine (Compazine), and thiethylperazine (Torecan).
Cannabinoids from marijuana also appear to be similar to codeine for treatment of pain. However, extreme sleepiness and other central nervous system effects make cannabinoids undesirable as painkillers.
Other cannabinoids from marijuana have also been used by mouth to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Some people inhale marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is smoked for nausea, glaucoma, appetite stimulation, mucous membrane inflammation, leprosy, fever, dandruff, hemorrhoids, obesity, asthma, urinary tract infections, cough, anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients, pain, and multiple sclerosis. It is also inhaled to weaken the immune system after kidney transplant to lessen the chance of transplant rejection.
Avoid confusion with hemp, a distinct variety of Cannabis sativa cultivated for its fiber and seeds, which contains less than 1% THC.
In the U.S., marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, making possession illegal. Some states, such as California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and others, have legalized or decriminalized the use of medical marijuana, despite objections from the federal government. Some countries such as Canada also permit the use of medical marijuana.
Possibly Effective for...
- Glaucoma. Smoking marijuana seems to reduce pressure inside the eye in people with glaucoma. However, it also seems to decrease blood flow to the optic nerve. So far, it is not known if marijuana can improve sight.
- HIV/AIDS-related weight loss. Smoking marijuana seems to stimulate the appetite of people with AIDS. Marijuana cigarettes can also cause weight gain in people with HIV who are also taking indinavir (Crixivan) or nelfinavir (Viracept).
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). When smoked or when used as a mouth spray, marijuana seems to be effective for the treatment of muscle tightness and shakiness in people with MS. However, taking marijuana extract by mouth does not seem to consistently reduce shakiness in patients with MS.
- Nerve pain. Early research shows that smoking marijuana three times a day might reduce nerve pain caused by HIV and other conditions.
- Pain. Research shows that taking marijuana or certain marijuana components, called cannabinoids, by mouth can decrease pain in people experiencing long-term pain.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease). Early research shows that patients with ALS who use marijuana might have improvements in some symptoms, including depression, appetite, spasms, and drooling.
- Weight loss in people with advanced cancer (cachexia). Early research shows that taking marijuana extract by mouth does not improve appetite in people with cachexia.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Some research suggests that using a specific mouth spray containing marijuana extract (Sativex) can decrease morning pain and improve sleep in people with RA. However, it does not seem to improve joint stiffness in the morning or overall pain severity.
- Urinary infections.
- Preventing organ rejection after kidney transplants.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Next: How does Marijuana work?
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