Cannabis and Chronic Illness

We all know cannabis gets you high, but what else does it do? Recent studies have shown that cannabis can be an extremely useful form of treatment for chronic illnesses. Although 37 states have legalized medical cannabis usage, there is still a severe stigma surrounding cannabis in the medical world, despite the positive effects that have been uncovered.

Before diving into the benefits of cannabis pertaining to chronic illnesses, it’s important to define what exactly a chronic illness is. Chronic illnesses can take many different forms and are sometimes referred to as “invisible illnesses,” since they often do not exhibit externally visible signs or symptoms. Those with invisible illnesses can have a wide range of symptoms, including chronic pain, fatigue, weakness, or mental health disorders. Since these symptoms are internal, there are no signs of illness to the outside observer. This, along with a lack of awareness, ultimately makes it difficult for outsiders to fully understand chronic illnesses. There are a lot of complications regarding treatment of chronic illnesses, but cannabis usage has been proven to aid in symptom relief.

There are dozens of different chronic illnesses, but we’ll focus on three conditions that cannabis is often used to treat: Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. While these illnesses can never fully be cured, there are many different avenues for treatment and symptom relief is a top priority, which is where cannabis comes in.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes pain and discomfort throughout the entire body. Many kinds of physical pain are involved with Fibromyalgia, whose cause is unknown. Pain can be felt in the arms, legs, head, chest, abdomen, and back, and is often described as burning and aching. Other than chronic pain, Fibromyalgia can cause fatigue, numbness, and trouble sleeping. Since there is no cure, symptom management is the goal for a lot of people battling Fibromyalgia and many have turned to cannabis. Cannabis is often used to help ease the pain that occurs as a result of this illness. A study on Fibromyalgia conducted by the National Library of Medicine resulted in over half of the participants quitting their other medications completely after beginning regular cannabis usage. Participants even claimed that cannabis completely subsided the consistent sharp, stabbing pains. Although cannabis is unable to cure the illness completely, it has helped so many people experience severe symptom relief.

The same goes for symptom relief regarding Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder that primarily affects the digestive tract. While Crohn’s disease primarily impacts the digestive area, it can lead to a plethora of other issues, such as abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, anorexia, and malnutrition. Patients suffering from Crohn’s disease can choose from a few different treatment avenues, with most choosing a type of biologic medication, such as infusions. The goal for Crohn’s patients is to reach a state of “remission,” where the disease is completely under control, which is a common goal when suffering from any chronic illness. While a primary form of treatment, like an infusion, is normally necessary to reach a state of remission, there are options for symptom management and relief, which is where cannabis comes in. Cannabis is an effective avenue for symptom relief due to its ability to reduce inflammation, which is crucial regarding Crohn’s disease.

Cannabis is used most frequently to aid the symptoms of Multiple sclerosis, a chronic illness that impacts the brain and spinal cord, making up the central nervous system, which ultimately controls everything we do. This disease causes debilitating muscle spasms and full body pains. Multiple sclerosis causes a plethora of different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination. The symptoms, severity, and duration can vary from person to person, which is true for many chronic illnesses. People suffering from multiple sclerosis are the second-largest group of medical marijuana users in the United States, following chronic pain sufferers. Much like with Fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease, it all comes down to symptom management and relief. Cannabis is an extremely powerful avenue for relief. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, cannabis has been proven to favorably impact symptoms of pain and spasticity associated with the disease.

When dealing with chronic illnesses, symptom relief is at the top of the priority list. Since these illnesses are incurable, patients deserve ways to minimize their constant pain, and cannabis can play a huge role in that. Hundreds of people suffering from chronic illness have discovered how much cannabis can do for their condition, and cannabis has even taken the place of prescription drugs for some patients. If you suffer from chronic illness, or know someone that does, cannabis usage is worth a shot… because it’s capable of much more than getting you high.