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Does medical marijuana have side effects?

Medical marijuana is increasingly used for therapeutic purposes. The soaring popularity stems from its potential benefits in treating various diseases. Many people wonder if medical marijuana also has side effects and whether it is safe for long-term use.

What will you learn from this article?

👉 In what way does medical marijuana work?

👉 What are the benefits and side effects of medical marijuana?

👉 What to do to protect yourself from adverse effects?

👉 Is medical marijuana addictive?

Table of contents:

  1. How does medical marijuana work?
  2. Potential benefits of using medical marijuana
  3. Side effects of medical marijuana
  4. How often do side effects occur when using medical marijuana?
  5. How can these adverse effects be prevented?
  6. Can medical marijuana be addictive?
  7. Side effects of medical marijuana – summary

How does medical marijuana work? 🩺

Medical marijuana is characterized by the presence of chemical compounds called cannabinoids, which interact with the endocannabinoid system. The two main cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, while CBD does not produce similar effects.

The endocannabinoid system regulates many body functions, such as pain, appetite, mood, and sleep. Medical marijuana works by affecting this system, which can bring relief in some conditions.

Potential benefits of using medical marijuana

Medical marijuana is used to alleviate symptoms of many diseases. The list is constantly growing, along with further research on the efficacy of medical cannabis. Here are some of the diseases where medical marijuana may be applicable:

✅ Chronic pain

Some studies suggest that cannabinoids present in medical marijuana can help reduce chronic pain, including neuropathic pain. Studies conducted on individuals with traumatic pain have shown that medical marijuana can provide relief and improve patients’ quality of life [1].

✅ Cancer

Patients suffering from cancer often struggle with pain, nausea, and loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy. Medical marijuana can provide relief from these symptoms and help patients better tolerate therapy. Studies suggest that cannabinoids can reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy [2].

✅ Parkinson’s disease

Some studies indicate that medical marijuana can help alleviate some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as muscle tremors, stiffness, and movement disorders. Research suggests that cannabinoids may have the potential to reduce tremors and improve daily live for people with Parkinson’s disease [3].

✅ Crohn’s disease

Medical marijuana can provide relief in Crohn’s disease, characterized by intestinal inflammation. Cannabinoids can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Clinical studies suggest that medical marijuana may have a beneficial effect on the symptoms of Crohn’s disease [4].

✅ Epilepsy

Some forms of epilepsy, such as drug-resistant epilepsy, may not respond to traditional pharmacological treatment. In such cases, medical marijuana, especially CBD, may be used to help reduce the frequency of seizures. Studies have shown that CBD can be an effective antiepileptic drug [5].

Side effects of medical marijuana

Like many other drugs, medical marijuana can cause certain side effects. Patients need to be aware of potential body reactions and consult a doctor in case of any adverse symptoms. Below we present some of the possible side effects of medical cannabis.

👉 Mood changes

In some patients, the use of marijuana may affect their mood, causing euphoria, agitation, or a feeling of anxiety. In case of significant mood changes, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

👉 Memory problems

THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, can affect cognitive functions, including memory. Some patients may experience difficulties in remembering information or concentrating.

👉 Coordination problems

Marijuana can affect motor coordination, which can lead to difficulties in movement precision. Patients should be aware of this effect and avoid activities requiring high precision, such as driving vehicles or operating machinery.

👉 Fatigue

In some patients, medical marijuana can cause feelings of fatigue and drowsiness. It is recommended to avoid activities that require concentration while using cannabis.

👉 Sleep disturbances

Marijuana can affect the sleep cycle, causing difficulties in falling asleep or waking up at night. If a patient experiences sleep difficulties after using medical cannabis, it is worth talking to a doctor to find appropriate sleep management strategies.

👉 Impact on the cardiovascular system

In some patients, medical marijuana can cause temporary increases in heart rate and lower blood pressure. Individuals with heart disease or a high risk of cardiovascular diseases should consult a doctor before starting therapy.

👉 Allergic reactions

In some individuals, medical marijuana may cause allergic reactions, such as rash, itching, or hives. In case of any allergic symptoms, it is necessary to consult a doctor.

❗️ Patients using medical marijuana ought to be aware of both potential benefits and side effects. Consulting a doctor before starting therapy is crucial to adjust the dosage and monitor the body’s response to treatment.

How often do side effects occur when using medical marijuana?

The frequency of side effects when using medical marijuana can vary and depends on the individual’s reaction. Some patients may experience side effects, while others do not experience any negative issues.

It is important for patients to be aware of potential side effects and monitor their well-being while using medical marijuana. If any adverse symptoms occur, it is important to consult a doctor to assess the situation and adjust the therapy.

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How can these adverse effects be prevented? 👩‍⚕️

To prevent adverse effects, several precautions can be taken.

🟢 Consultation with a doctor

Before starting the use of medical cannabis, it is important to consult a doctor. The doctor will be able to assess the patient’s health condition, consider any contraindications, and adjust the dosage or method of administration.

🟢 Proper dosing

It is important to follow the recommendations regarding dosage. Do not exceed the recommended dose and always adhere to the established guidelines for using medical cannabis.

🟢 Monitoring the body

Patients should consciously observe their well-being and pay attention to any side effects. If any adverse symptoms occur, it is necessary to inform the doctor.

🟢 Individual tolerance

Each patient may have a different tolerance to medical marijuana. Therefore, it is important to find the right dose and method of administration that best suits individual needs and minimizes the risk of side effects.

🟢 Education

Patients should be well-informed about medical cannabis and its potential side effects. It is important to know the benefits, risks, and limitations associated with medical marijuana therapy.

In case of any doubts, concerns, or adverse symptoms, always consult a doctor. Cooperation with a doctor will help adjust the therapy and minimize the risk of side effects.

Can medical marijuana be addictive? 🤔

Medical marijuana contains psychoactive substances, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can cause addiction. Like other psychoactive substances, regular and prolonged use of medical marijuana can lead to the development of tolerance and addiction.

Marijuana addiction can manifest as a strong need for regular use, difficulties in controlling usage, the appearance of withdrawal symptoms after cessation of use, and a negative impact on social, professional, and personal functioning.

The risk of addiction to medical marijuana depends on many factors, such as individual sensitivity, dosage, frequency of use, and duration of therapy. Not all patients who use medical marijuana will become addicted. However, there is a certain group of individuals who are more susceptible to developing addiction.

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Side effects of medical marijuana – summary

The safety of using medical marijuana is an important issue. There are many scientific studies on side effects, but currently, a limited amount of data is available on the long-term effects of use.

It is crucial to consult a doctor before starting the use of medical cannabis. Only a medical professional can assess the patient’s health condition, consider any contraindications, and recommend appropriate dosing and monitoring. This will minimize the risk of side effects.

Bibliography:

  1. Abrams DI, Couey P, Shade SB, et al.Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study, Journal of Pain, 2011.
    Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study
  1. Tramèr MR, Carroll D, Campbell FA, et al., Cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in adults with cancer receiving chemotherapy, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2001. 
    Cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in adults with cancer receiving chemotherapy
  1. Sieradzan KA, Fox SH, Hill M, et al., Cannabis-based medicines for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2018. 
    Cannabis-based medicines for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Naftali T, Bar-Lev Schleider L, Dotan I, et al., Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2013. 
    Cannabis induces a clinical response in patients with Crohn’s disease: a prospective placebo-controlled study
  1. Devinsky O, Marsh E, Friedman D, et al., Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial, The Lancet Neurology, 2016. 
    Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial
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