Consider using marijuana for medicinal purposes?

Consider using marijuana for medicinal purposes?

The sixties were characterized by the development of various social and cultural movements throughout the world. One of the “symbols” of those turbulent years was the use of drugs , among them the marijuana that became the most consumed of the generation .

You do not have to be a mathematician to calculate that the youngsters of that time are now over 60 and belong to the so-called generation of baby boomers , born between 1946 and 1964; a generation that, unlike its predecessors, is using drugs more often as it ages. In fact, the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health in the United States estimates that the use of marijuana will triple in people over 50 between the period 1999/2001 and 2020.

Properties of marijuana

Marijuana is a plant that has more than 500 chemical substances in its leaves and inflorescences, of which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most important. THC is the substance responsible for changes in behavior that occur after smoking or ingesting it, while CBD is a substance with powerful antiepileptic effects. It is important to mention that the recent discussions about the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes include the cultivation, processing and distribution of these two different types of substances.

Both THC and CBD act through an important system of intercellular communication and regulator of brain function called the endocannabinoid system, which regulates important functions such as memory , mood, brain reward systems, drug addiction and metabolic processes such as Fat destruction (lipolysis), glucose metabolism and energy balance.

Its medicinal use

Because the US government considers marijuana a “Schedule I” drug, which means that it does not have any beneficial effect on health , it has not been possible to investigate the medicinal use of the plant in this country. However studies in Israel and other countries show that some diseases that affect older people could be improved with the use of marijuana. These include glaucoma and lack of appetite caused by cancerand AIDS. A recent publication reported that the symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can be alleviated with the use of marijuana. Other studies indicate that marijuana could play an important role in alleviating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The use and abuse of marijuana can cause a series of health problems in the elderly, which depend on the time and dose in which it is used and some of which we will see below:

Cognitive disorders . They are those that affect memory , thinking and problem solving. While it is well established that those who consume marijuana momentarily lose their recent memory and have difficulty concentrating properly, its long-term effect has not been demonstrated.

Disorders in the health of the heart . Marijuana raises the frequency of the heartbeat and can cause an increase in blood pressure . One study found that smoking marijuana can trigger a heart attack within the first hour after consumption.

Cancer . Marijuana smoke is very similar to cigarette smoke, a product with which it is usually combined, and is known to contain twice the carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons. A New Zealand study found that the risk of lung cancer increased by 8% for every marijuana cigarette consumed per day.

Psychiatric disorders . Some studies have shown a possible relationship between the use of marijuana and the onset of schizophrenia and depression . 

Dependence . Physical and psychological dependence has been demonstrated in 7 to 10% of those who use marijuana, especially if it was first used at an early age.

Accidents . Smoking marijuana doubles the risk of suffering a traffic accident, probably due to the lack of concentration and the alteration of the recent memory described above.

Interaction with medications Especially with anxiolytics such as diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), zolpidem (Ambien), and barbiturates such as phenobarbital (Donnatal). The relaxing effects of these medications can be enhanced with the use of marijuana. It has also been seen that the combination with fluoxetine (Zoloft) can cause serious behavioral changes, called hypomania .

Finally, it is important to know that the modern varieties of marijuana are much more powerful than the old ones. If taking advantage of the laws of the state in which you live, you will use marijuana -for medical reasons- analyze its side effects, which will not be more harmful than beneficial. And do not forget to always inform your doctor about the medications you are taking.

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