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What is dagga? Dagga is the South African term used for weed or cannabis. It is the only unique definition of marijuana which has deep African roots. The word dagga derives from the Khoikhoi word ‘dachab’ – which means intoxication.
Over the past 3000 years, cannabis has been used by people to treat life-threatening illnesses and ailments. The case is no different for the Khoisan. The indigenous Khoikhoi people from Africa smoked “dagga” like tobacco and used it as an everyday necessity in treating ailments. It was also a big part of the trade between the Khoisan and the Europeans – with marijuana being one of the main trading products from the late 1500s.
The lack of scientific knowledge on the effects of dagga, however, still leaves people with the question: can marijuana really help me? That’s why we’re going to compare the scientific evidence supporting the medical weed benefits against the associated health risks.
The Cannabis Case in South Africa
South Africa’s Constitutional Court, in its efforts to decriminalise dagga, referred to the 33 jurisdictions around the world where the use and possession of marijuana have been decriminalised or legalised.
Recent research suggests that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana, and that scientists should continue to study the plant’s medicinal uses and benefits.
The South Africa Constitutional Court ruled that the personal use of cannabis and private cultivation is not a criminal offense. South Africa’s ban on the usage and cultivation of cannabis infringed on section 14 of the South African constitution which gives all citizens the right to privacy.
It’s still said to be a grey area. Many people are left with questions surrounding the do’s and don’ts of cannabis in South Africa. Some of these questions include how much dagga one person can legally own or grow, you’re movement with cannabis between private locations, and where you will be able to buy dagga from.
Hopefully, some light will soon be shed on all the questions from the South African public, but for now, we’ll focus on the actual benefits of using marijuana. We want to inform you so that you can enjoy the benefits of smoking weed and understand what cannabis is commonly used for around the world.
Benefits of Weed: How does it work?
Researchers have spent a lot of time trying to figure out which substances contained in marijuana have medical applications and benefits. Two active chemicals in cannabis might have medicinal value.
These two chemicals are known as cannabidiol (CBD), which will impact your brain without making you high and contains pain-relieving properties and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which contains pain-relieving properties for pain caused by inflammation. This is because THC contains strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. THC is also the largest contributing ingredient in experiencing a high.
The benefits of cannabis components like THC and CBD prove to be very promising. THC has the ability to reduce nausea and increase appetite. It may also decrease pain, inflammation, and muscle problems. THC can be consumed by smoking marijuana, but can also be found in oils, edibles, tinctures, and capsules.
CBD can primarily be found in extractions from the hemp plant. CBD products include gels, gummies, oils, supplements, and extracts. If you want to enjoy the positive effects of weed without smoking it, drinking boiled dagga tea.
Both these components are similar to your body’s own endocannabinoids. This means they can easily interact with your cannabinoid receptors. This releases neurotransmitters in your brain – and they are responsible for relating messages between the cells.
Although, we know about these two active chemical ingredients that apparently have healing properties, there are still many questions about marijuana’s medicinal properties. Although those two ingredients have proved to make a difference in recent conducted studies, there are another 400 compounds found in cannabis, with more than 60 compounds being cannabinoids.
Without more research, we won’t know what influence those compounds can have on our health.
For some of the medical benefits, there has been a good amount of research done, proving the good evidence and effective use of dagga to heal ailments. But that doesn’t mean that using dagga is completely harmless. We have heard mentions of impaired memory, learning, and processing speed in chronic marijuana users.
The Results of the most recent medical Marijuana studies
Known best for treating pain related conditions, many studies have focused on the marijuana as a substitute for opioid-related medicines. Although research can’t always be performed, due to cannabis still being illegal in a lot of states, people have reported the benefits of weed and its assistance in many diseases people face on a daily basis.
Studies followed controlled clinical trials, to try and prove the benefits of using marijuana by controlling the use of a marijuana-related medicine versus a placebo. And the results were astonishing, supporting the 16 benefits of marijuana discussed below:
The Best 16 benefits of Marijuana
Supporting personal evidence from regular marijuana users have prompted the legalization of marijuana in a lot of states around the US – and the rest of the world is not falling behind. Many people believe that the drug should be legal for medicinal use, and are trying to promote the positive effects of weed to make it more acceptable and known for patients who can benefit from marijuana.
1. Marijuana are most commonly used as treatment for chronic pain
Most people using medical marijuana, are using it to treat pain-related symptoms. Cannabis is known to reduce pain symptoms tremendously, and this natural drug, helps with a lot of chronic pain conditions.
The reason why patients prefer using marijuana to treat severe pain, is because of its ability to relieve pain, while avoiding the highly sedative effect of many other chemical medicines such as opiods.
2. Cannabis can slow and stop cancer cells from spreading
Cannabidiol (an active chemical found in marijuana) can slow down and stop cancer cells from developing, because it deactivates a gene called Id-1, according to a study published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Journal.
We all know someone who has had to battle with cancer, and chemotherapy can take its toll on the body and mind. Nausea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite are common symptoms experienced after chemotherapy.
Researchers from the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco have conducted experiments on the breast cancer cells that contained a high level of Id-1, and started treating them with cannabidiol.
They proved that the cells had decreased Id-1 expression and were less aggressive spreaders. This supports the American Association for Cancer Research findings that cannabis can actually work in slowing down tumor growth in the brain, breast, and lungs.
3. Prevents the development of Alzheimer’s
How can a drug that impairs memory help and protect the brain from the consequences of the Alzheimer’s disease? Well, the answer to this is that there are a series of changes happening in your brain chemistry during normal aging. Gary Wenk, a neuroscientist and researcher, explains how marijuana can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cannabis helps stop inflammation and therefore it will reduce the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Your brain is aging yearly, and aging studies have shown the increasing evidence of inflammation. An increase in brain inflammation leads to a decline in the production of new neurons, known as neurogenesis – important for making memories.
Stimulating the brain’s marijuana receptors (after a certain age), offers protection by reducing brain inflammation and restoring neurogenesis. Later in life, cannabis can actually help your brain, instead of harming it.
Too lazy to read more about it? There’s also a TED talk on marijuana and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
4. May be a possible treatment for Glaucoma
A well-known eye disease, glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, are one of the most common reasons that US states allow medical marijuana use.
The pressure inside your eye can be decreased by using cannabis. According to the National Eye Institute, studies in the early 1970’s have shown that when smoking marijuana, intraocular pressure (IOP) got lowered in people with normal pressure and people with glaucoma.
However, marijuana can’t be used as a long term treatment yet, because it only lowers IOP for a few hours. Future researchers hope to develop a medicine that will make the marijuana-based compound last longer.
5. Cannabis anti-nausea effects: Studies explained
A recent report by Canadian scientists explains the functioning of brain mechanisms, underlying nausea and identified both CBD and THC as anti-nausea agents.
Scientists mention that becoming nauseous is associated with an increase in the brain chemical, serotonin, in the brain’s insular cortex. THC can reduce nausea, by reducing serotonin in this region of the brain. Reducing serotonin in this part of your brain, will reduce the activation of a receptor, responsible for the offspring of nausea.
CBD activates a different serotonin receptor. Together, the use of THC and CBD may have an influence on reducing serotonin levels and that will reduce the activation of the nausea-inducing 5-HT3 receptor.
6. Cannabis reduced symptoms of the Parkinson’s disease
Marijuana cannot cure Parkinson’s, but it can provide great relief to patients suffering from this disease. Parkinson’s disease lead to cognitive problems, difficulty initiating moved, impaired gait, balance and tremor.
A pilot study with 47 Parkinson’s disease patients conducted by scientists from Tel Aviv University in Israel, found that smoking cannabis for a time period of 19 months improved many of the symptoms Parkinson’s sufferers are experiencing.
82% of participants reported the improvement of their overall symptoms. Nearly 75% of participants also confirmed that their mood was enhanced by using cannabis, providing a solution for palliative care in Parkinson’s patients.
Cannabis activates CB1 receptors in the small brain region where brain cells will selectively be destroyed by the disease. Activating CB1 receptors in this region of the brain, can lead to relieve the cognitive impairment, walking ability and tremor associated with Parkinson’s disease.
7. Strong evidence suggesting relieve of Muscle Spasms
Recent research suggests that medicinal marijuana use can relieve muscle spasticity. These cramps or spasms occur when muscles tighten involuntarily. This can be a very uncomfortable experience.
In 1990 a research study compared the effectiveness of THC with codeine. The findings revealed that THC was a much more effective treatment for muscle spasms in patients experiencing chronic pain.
The American Medical Association has gone on record saying that cannabis and THC are beneficial for patients with muscle tremors resulting from trauma and multiple sclerosis.
8. Marijuana eases the pain of Multiple Sclerosis
Can medical marijuana treat multiple sclerosis? Are you too tired of trying to ease the pain and control the muscle spasms? Some people experience severe symptoms of MS and will try anything in order to just get through the day.
Five research studies suggest that there was sufficient evidence that cannabinoids can be beneficial for symptoms of pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Studies on CBD have shown a number of beneficial pharmacological effects.
The symptoms of MS that marijuana can help you treat:
- Uncontrolled muscle movements
- Overactive bladder
- Nerve Pain
And although marijuana isn’t a quick fix, introducing it into your everyday life will make it much easier to deal with MS.
Marijuana will help calm your spasms and allow you to move your joints more freely. It will also ease the spasms that cause the frequent urge to go to the bathroom. It will definitely relief symptoms of pain, making it easier to rest out and get in some sleep.
A study from the University of Rochester MS Center in New York took a glimpse into the real world experience of medical marijuana in reducing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and transverse myelitis.
77% of participants reported marijuana helpful in managing pain and spasticity symptoms. Another 70% mentioned that they felt an improvement in their quality of life, upon starting to use marijuana. Marijuana can help manage severe symptoms of MS through direct symptom relief and reduction in other medications.
9. Provides Arthritis relief
Research reported that the use of marijuana reduces pain and inflammation, and promotes sleep, which will help relieve pain and discomfort in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
This study, conducted in 2011, gave their patients Sativex – which is a cannabinoid pain-relieving medicine. After two weeks, patients who used this product, reported a decrease in pain and improved sleep quality.
10. Cannabis helps to control Epileptic Seizures
Patients with serious epileptic seizures are turning to different types of treatment to reduce the frequency of seizures in patients – specifically in children. ‘
A study conducted in 2003, showed that marijuana can contribute to controlling epileptic seizures. The study was conducted by professor DeLorenzo from the Virginia Commonwealth University who tested marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana on epileptic rats.
The seizures stopped in about 10 hours. Research has found that THC controls the seizures by binding the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.
11. Improved symptoms of the autoimmune disease Lupus
An autoimmune disorder Lupus, where the body attacks itself for unknown reasons, have called on marijuana for assistance. Some chemicals that can be found in cannabis, calms the immune system, which helps patients to deal with the symptoms of Lupus. Marijuana is also known to reduce symptoms of pain and nausea, which is probably why patients have mentioned a decrease in symptoms associated with this disease.
12. Cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder and symptoms range from pain, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. A recent study conducted in Israel showed that smoking a joint reduced Crohn’s disease symptoms in 10 out of 11 patients and 5 of those patients reached complete remission of the disease.
Although this is quite a small study, other researchers have found similar results. Cannabinoids in cannabis help the gut to control bacteria and intestinal function. Other inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis could also possibly benefit from the use of marijuana.
How does this work? THC-like chemicals that are made by the body increase the absorbency of the intestines, allowing bacteria in. The good news is that the absorbency of bacteria in the intestines can be reduced by the plant-derived cannabinoids in marijuana. It blocks the body-cannabinoids and makes the intestinal bond tighter.
13. Helps people suffering from PTSD
In some states in America, cannabis is allowed to use in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorders after a research project. Cannabinoids, similar to THC, helps to control the system that causes fear and anxiety in the body and brain, and upon taking the right dosage, this might be a good treatment to try out.
14. Decreases high levels of Anxiety
Many cannabis consumers use marijuana to relax, but smoking too much has also proved to cause anxiety. That’s why scientists decided to conduct a study to find just the right amount of marijuana to make people feel relaxed.
Emmy Childs, an associate professor of psychiatry at The University of Illinois in Chicago was one of the authors of a study that found that THC at low doses reduces stress, while higher dosages prompted stress.
Participants of the study who received 7.5 mg of THC reported less stress after a psychosocial test than subjects given a placebo. The findings of the research study supports claims that cannabis can be used to reduce stress and relieve symptoms of tension and anxiety.
When using a too high dosage of THC, however, anxiety and feelings of negativity can increase. So what is there to learn? Know and discuss your dosage with your doctor, if you want to try cannabis for reducing anxiety.
15. Can possibly protect the Brain from Concussion and Trauma
A recent study published in 2017 by The Cerebral Cortex journal shows the possibility of the healing properties of marijuana in the brain, after a concussion or traumatic injury.
Experiments have been done on mice, and the results have shown that cannabis lessened the bruising of the brain and motivated healing mechanisms after the occurrence of traumatic injuries.
16. Cannabis and Schizophrenia: What are the latest studies showing?
To understand the importance of treatment in a mental disease, it is necessary to know what will motivate symptoms to appear. People always believed that using cannabis might lead to schizophrenia, but they only studied the causal influence of marijuana, and did not consider its therapeutic value.
A new study suggests that instead of cannabis use increasing the risk for schizophrenia, schizophrenia increases cannabis use. That might be because patients use it as a self-medicating tool.
Final Budding Thoughts:
In South Africa, medical marijuana usage is no common practice. But upon researching the great results and benefits you can gain from a dagga plant, we believe that medical marijuana should be included in the treatment of medical conditions.
With so many countries supporting the legalization of marijuana worldwide, we believe that people are becoming more susceptible to the idea of cannabis as an alternative medical treatment.