Cannabis is unusual among modern medications in that its form can vary dramatically and the health benefits will vary with the form. We’re rather used to pharmaceutical medications, which often come in very limited forms, but at least we know exactly what we’re getting and how much. Whereas pain relievers, antidepressants, and other common medications typically come in a predetermined form and dose – say, a 200 mg pill or capsule – medical marijuana can be used in a variety of ways, usually by inhalation or by oral ingestion. It is crucial to understand that in the case of cannabis, form impacts performance, so simply switching forms will not work the same way.
Patients may be understandably be confused about which form of cannabis is most effective, especially considering the vast amount of less-than-stellar information floating around the Internet and passed along by word of mouth. The experts at InhaleMD are prepared to answer your questions about edibles and the health benefits of medical marijuana in its oral form; continue reading to learn more.
Health Benefits of Using Medical Marijuana
Despite the fact that marijuana has been banned for much of modern American history, there is a wealth of studies supporting its use in a variety of conditions. The report of the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine from January 2017 is the best catalogue of the evidence to that time. It lists moderate quality evidence for a range of illnesses and “conclusive or incontrovertible” evidence for use for treatment of pain.
The most common use of cannabis is as a safer alternative to opioid medication. While cannabis is not always strong enough to address the worst pain, cannabis can be helpful in dealing with the discomfort caused by a variety of conditions:
- Headaches and migraines
- Chronic pain from illnesses like fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis
- Lingering back, knee, and joint injuries
- Multiple sclerosis
While its effectiveness as a pain reliever has been a primary selling point for cannabis, many patients have found relief from some other very debilitating conditions as well. A growing body of evidence suggests that soldiers returning from deployment can mitigate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder with cannabis. It has also shown promise as a tool to treat certain forms of epilepsy.
Using Edibles vs. Inhaling Cannabis
One thing to note before diving into a discussion over which method is best for the consumption of cannabis: the different forms of ingestion should not be considered interchangeable alternatives to one another. Each comes with its own advantages that make it more suitable for some situations than others, and some types of cannabis-based products are downright ineffective. Discuss the options with your doctor or our Boston medical cannabis doctors to learn which option might work best for you.
Generally, eating cannabis-infused foods, commonly referred to as edibles, is better for situations where you want long-lasting relief without the need for an immediate effect. If you have constant back pain, for instance, you will likely benefit more from oral ingestion of cannabis because the duration of relief persists for a much longer time. At the same time, a person suffering from a migraine or some other type of acute pain would probably be better served by passing on the cannabis-infused food products in favor of vaporized marijuana, which acts quickly and lasts for a shorter duration.
Keep in mind, however, that eating brownies, cupcakes, or other edibles infused with cannabis is not a healthy practice. Eating foods high in fats and sugars on a regular basis can induce or exacerbate other medical problems, especially obesity or diabetes. Instead, consider trying a product with fewer calories or unhealthy ingredients – a gummy, for example. Talking to your medical cannabis specialist is the best way to find the solution that best suits your needs.
Other Cannabis Products that Offer Benefits and Treatment
With the rise in marijuana-related research and media coverage came an unsurprising surge in products marketed to consumers as cure-alls based on one or more components extracted from the marijuana plant. Oils, creams, and tinctures promise the cessation of everything from acne to autism, though the science surrounding these claims is more than a little suspect.
In reality, the vast majority of products that rely on CBD are ineffective against almost every malady they claim to treat. Tinctures used under the tongue have little to offer, as they provide only about half the power of consumption by oral ingestion. Topical products are especially impotent and possibly the worst of the bunch; in fact, creams and ointments are arguably pointless in their current form and essentially unneeded in the cannabis market.
Turn to the Experts When Considering Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts
As with any kind of medical treatment, the best person to advise you is a cannabis specialist. If you are considering pursuing treatment through cannabis or cannabis-based products, consult a physician with expertise in the field. At InhaleMD, the staff is led by Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained specialist and nationally recognized leader in cannabis therapeutics. To learn more about our services or set up a consultation, call us today at (617) 861-8519.