The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The marijuana plant contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Each one has a different effect on the body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicine. THC also produces the "high" people feel when they smoke marijuana or eat foods containing it.
What is medical marijuana used for?
Medical marijuana is used to treat a number of different conditions, including:
Eating disorders such as anorexia
Mental health conditions like schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Wasting syndrome (cachexia)
How does it help?
Cannabinoids -- the active chemicals in medical marijuana -- are similar to chemicals the body makes that are involved in appetite, memory, movement, and pain.
Research suggests cannabinoids might:
Reduce inflammation and relieve pain
Control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy
Kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth
Relax tight muscles in people with MS
Stimulate appetite and improve weight gain in people with cancer and AIDS