I recently got high with an old friend from High School for the first time at a grassroots marijuana legalization rally and she reminded me that she was often late for orchestra practice because she liked to get high before she played her string-bass since she felt it helped her pay more attention in class and play better.
Marijuana was popular among Jazz musicians in the early 1900’s because “unlike booze which dulled and incapacitated, marijuana enabled musicians whose job required them to play long into the night to forget their exhaustion. Moreover, the drug seemed to make their music sound more imaginative and unique, at least to those who played and listened while under its sensorial influence.”
My friend from Orchestra class certainly had a similar experience from mixing music and marijuana. She realized long before I did that there’s a lot more to marijuana than bad movies and munchies. I realized that I never believed her back then until I became a regular marijuana user myself sometime during grad school when I realized how much it helped me read, study and write about really confusing subject matter.
Marijuana itself can be an incredibly confusing subject matter for many people, but using marijuana while you read and think about marijuana is perhaps the best way to learn about it!
The 7 Most Surprising Health Benefits of Marijuana
1. Our Bodies are Made for Marijuana!
Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana according to the most recent Gallup Poll and President Obama’s Administration has recently relaxed governmental restrictions on medicinal marijuana research. Marijuana continues to become an increasingly socially acceptable mainstream medicine as more and more Americans continue to discover the sometimes seemingly miraculous benefits of using it to effectively treat Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS, Chronic Pain, Diabetes Mellitus Dystonia, Epilepsy Fibromyalgia, GI Disorders, Gliomas/Cancer, Hepatitis C, HIV, Huntington’s Disease, Hypertension, Incontinence, MRSA, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis, Pruritus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sleep Apnea, Tourette’s Syndrome and hundreds of other conditions.
The reason why this one plant has so many clinical applications for so many different devastating medical afflictions has to do with the endocannabinoid system in the connective tissues of our bodies, brains and internal organs which is responsible for maintaining our cellular homeostasis in spite of any and every fluctuation and threat from our external environments. Indeed the most surprising thing to learn about marijuana for many people who are new to it is the fact that the cells of our very bodies are biologically designed to receive cannabinoids, the active chemical compounds in marijuana such as Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) and Cannabidol (or CBD) and that these naturally-occurring chemical compounds make it much easier for our bodies to maintain “a balance between the synthesis, degradation, and subsequent recycling of cellular products.”
2. Marijuana is Preventative, Restorative Medicine
More surprising for many people still is that taking supplemental cannabinoids by using marijuana may actually prove to be the best preventative medicine for many of the conditions it helps alleviate. In the August 2009 issue of Cancer Prevention Research, medical researchers reported that “ten to twenty years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell cancer.”
In 2013 The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology published a study that found that CBD can actually help grow brain cells, completely contradicting the decades-old stereotype that marijuana kills brain cells and makes users stupid, and proving marijuana to be an effective treatment for depression and other mental health disorders.
Marijuana makes you feel good, or “high”, because cannabinoids help you control the number one cause of all lethal afflictions – stress. Our endocannabinoid systems moderate and regulate stress hormones with naturally occurring endocannabinoids from our own bodies which belong to the same class of cannabinoids as THC and CBD. This is why supplemental cannabinoids are an ideal way to regulate dangerous levels of unhealthy stress hormones in our bodies.
3. Marijuana is Ideal for Social-Stress
Given the stress regulating and regenerative functions of cannabinoids within our bodies along with well-established relationships between psychological stress and poverty, you may be surprised to consider that you can’t afford not to consume extra cannabinoids in order to stay healthy and positive if you are anxious about or struggling with poverty.
You may also be surprised to discover that struggling poor people all over the planet, who are all too often poor people of color, are stigmatized and persecuted for simply using an effective medicine for daily stress and pain management.
You might be even more surprised to learn that the very word “marijuana”, a Mexican slang word for cannabis, wasn’t even commonly used in the U.S. until 1910 when hundreds of thousands of migrant Mexican workers brought the habit of recreational “marijuana” to this country.
“Marijuana” first began to find it’s first mainstream cultural refuge among Black Jazz Musicians first in New Orleans where the first known American use of the term “marijuana” was recorded in 1909.
“Cannabis”, as it was known up until then, was the term used to refer to the active ingredients in common household medicines made by Bristol Meyer’s Squib and Eli Lily for example. Harry Anslinger, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics once said “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
4. Marijuana Does Not Destroy Your Memories, Motor Skills, Self-Control or your Moral Character.
Our society is still suffering from all of the harmful stereotypes and misinformation that Anslinger’s campaign against cannabis inspired even though Medical Marijuana is now legal in twenty-three states in the country. You might be surprised to learn that marijuana isn’t as debilitating nor as maddening as is portrayed in Reefer Madness, Drug Awareness Resistance Abuse (D.A.R.E.) anti-marijuana propaganda or in the stereotypes portrayed in Cheech and Chong movies.
Subjects in a landmark government-funded study at The University of California, San Diego were given an injection of capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, into the surface of their skin. The subjects then smoked joints of different THC levels in order to measure the cannabinoids effects on the unpleasant burning sensation on the subjects arms while they performed various tests on motor skills and cognition.
The study demonstrated the difficulties in making medicinal marijuana an exact science in terms of matching dosages to pain given that lower dosages had a tendency to lower pain whereas higher dosages could actually increase the sensation of pain. However the study also found that the none of the different marijuana dosages had a significant impairment on the neuropsychological tests that the subjects were given demonstrating how marijuana helps people manage pain in their daily lives without becoming less functional.
You may be surprised to know, (or perhaps remember if you happen to be a true veteran cannabis consumer), that cannabinoids even help with the extinction of painful memories. This is why there is some truth to the stereotypes about forgetful stoners and why marijuana is such good medicine for veterans of armed conflicts, survivors of natural disasters, crime, sexual abuse.
This is also why It can definitely help you recover from relatively less severe yet potentially paralyzing psychological pain from breakups, divorce and death in the family without creating unexpected side-effects in your physical health from anti-depressant pills nor without necessarily compounding depression for you in ways in which alcohol can when used to alleviate stress.
5. There are as Many, Many, Many Different Types of Marijuana
Marijuana strains are as diverse as styles of music. There are thousands of different varieties or strains of marijuana with dozens of different combinations and arrangements of cannabinoids grown to produce different effects for different purposes and kinds of stress, pain, and even recreational activities!
Marijuana is an acquired, cultivated taste, much like listening to music. Much like Marijuana different kinds of music will have a different effect on your body, mind, and spirit. There’s some music you’re just going to love more than most other kinds, some you’ll never want to listen to at all and you never know when you’ll find something new that you’ll obsess over! Much of the therapeutic fun of consuming marijuana is trying new kinds and experimenting with it much like you would with music in order to learn about which varieties your specific endocannabinoid-system enjoys the most for your own unique, individual, constantly-evolving purposes and daily activities!
The two major strains of marijuana or cannabis, which is the plant’s scientific name are known as cannabis-sativa and cannabis-indica. The leaves of sativa plants are comparatively thinner and longer than the wider leaves of indica plants. Sativa plants themselves are taller with looser branches than indica plants which are shorter with denser branches. Sativa strains are typically thought to have more energetic, euphoric effects for daytime and recreational use whereas indicas are commonly believed to have better sedative effects for purposes of relaxation and sleep.
However these commonly described differences in the effects between sativa and indica strains are in no way a hard and fast rule and there are of course thousands of hybrid plants which have each been grown to produce a unique combination of the two main categories of effects.
6. Not All Marijuana Will Make You “High”
Marijuana strains that are predominantly rich in CBD cannabinoids are recognized to have a wider array of medicinal applications and can help people utilize the therapeutic effects of marijuana to manage stress and pain without necessarily experiencing a strong, potentially distracting euphoric “high” that THC rich strains will offer.
Strains of marijuana rich in CBD can provide relief from serious pain with more or less energy depending on the strain’s balance of CBD and THC content. A strain from Colorado known as Charlotte’s Web, believed to be the highest CBD strain in the world containing 20% CBD and less than 0.5% THC, was designed specifically to help people feel focused more so than relaxed and famously helped a young girl with Dravet’s Syndrome named Charlotte who was suffering from over 300 epileptic seizures a week. Many other parents with children suffering from epileptic seizures became interested in the oil extract from this strain after it greatly improved Charlotte’s condition.
7. Weed Helps you Work Out Harder
Marijuana is a great way to help you forget about your stress so you can enjoy more recreational activities including exercise. A 2003 study found that exercise actually activates the endocannabinoid system in the same way that the cannabis plant does.
The Sadhu’s of India are an ancient Hindu Sect who are known for getting high and doing Yoga long before marijuana-friendly yoga classes ever became a “thing” in cosmopolitan cities like L.A. and NYC. So many modern runners, tri-athletes, and mixed martial artists, professional football and basketball players and wrestlers in addition to the world’s most decorated olympian Michael Phelps have publicly come out as marijuana users.
The health benefits of marijuana usage on athletic performance are so surprising that marijuana is actually considered a performance enhancing drug by the World Anti-Doping Association!
Summing Up The Surprises!
The most surprising thing about marijuana is that it is still in no way legal in twenty-seven of our country’s states and you won’t really even begin to understand just how shocking this fact is until you have actually begun to experience and enjoy these seven most surprising health benefits of marijuana for yourself because the truth about marijuana is that it is a gateway drug to a happier, healthier, more successful and higher standard of living.