Marijuana can offer a variety of health benefits to those who use it regularly.
While marijuana is known for its many medical uses, research shows that it offers a number of health benefits, too.
Smoking, vaporizing, or eating marijuana regularly may improve many aspects of your life, from your mood to your sex drive, and even your waistline.
Besides marijuana’s potential to combat various diseases, there are many other health benefits that you may not even realize you are getting from using it daily.
Here are a few ways that using marijuana could be beneficial to your everyday health and wellbeing.
1. Stress and anxiety relief
The relationship between marijuana and anxiety is complicated. Although marijuana can actually cause anxiety under certain circumstances, many people report feeling relief from anxiety when consuming marijuana.
In fact, a Canadian study on medical marijuana users found that 40% of people who were taking benzodiazepines for their anxiety were able to stop their medication completely within 90 days of cannabis treatment.
When marijuana doesn’t work to calm your anxiety, it’s often due to factors such as the type of strain, past experience with marijuana, pre-existing mental disorders and even the environment you’re smoking in.
2. Makes you feel happy
Most of us could use a little pick me up every now and then, and marijuana has been shown to do just that. This is undoubtedly the most common reason why many people reach for the pipe, joint, or cannabis edible — it’s quite simply to feel good.
Marijuana, like many other recreational drugs, releases a chemical called dopamine in the pleasure centre of the brain. Anytime we feel excited about something — like a donut on the counter or a friend sending a text — you can bet that dopamine neurons are firing.
Consuming marijuana in any form ignites this process in the brain, giving us that blissful and euphoric feeling.
3. Self awareness and deep thought
Many people have claimed that smoking marijuana has changed their way of thinking and opened their minds.
Others report getting a fresh perspective on life, a deeper connection to the people and things around them as well as a newfound ability to think more deeply about certain subjects.
Some people even go so far as to say that marijuana has changed their lives due to its ability to inspire deep introspection.
There is a reason why many musicians enjoy marijuana — it inspires their creativity. Famous artists such as The Beatles, Willie Nelson, Lady Gaga, and Bob Marley have all credited marijuana for giving them a creative edge when writing their music.
One 2014 study tested creativity in cannabis users and found that they scored higher on measures of creativity than non-users.
On the other hand, a 2010 study revealed that marijuana had a negative effect on creativity in people who smoked regularly.
Of course, creativity is an abstract concept that isn’t easily defined by scientific measures. Either way, many swear by marijuana’s ability to help them create.
While marijuana is often thought of as a motivation killer, some studies show that using marijuana can actually increase motivation.
In a 1975 study, scientists observed that Jamaican farmers who smoked ganja during their breaks would return to work with “renewed vigour” and a “freshened efficiency”.
But there’s a reason why the unmotivated stoner stereotype is so prevalent in pop culture. Some studies have found that marijuana users have lower motivation than non-users.
The conflicting findings could reflect any number of factors. But many still believe that marijuana helps, rather than harms motivation.
6. Reduces the use of alcohol and other drugs
Marijuana may help some people by reducing their use of addictive substances.
In a 2009 study, scientists found that many people were using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, prescription and illegal drugs.
The most common reasons given for using marijuana instead of other substances were: fewer side effects, less withdrawal symptoms, and better management of health issues.
Many people use marijuana instead of opioid painkillers to manage their pain. Compared with opioids, marijuana has fewer side effects, less potential for addiction, and no chance of lethal overdose. Opioids are responsible for about 90 deaths per day due to overdose in the U.S.
7. Sleep aid
Insomnia has turned into a bit of an epidemic, but luckily there’s an answer to our restless nights.
Consuming marijuana before bed has been shown to be an effective sleep aid, especially when it comes to falling asleep at the beginning of the night.
However, it has also been reported that cannabis can disturb REM sleep — the sleep stage where dreaming occurs.
If you are struggling with a low libido, perhaps a bit of marijuana will do the trick. In a 2017 study, scientists concluded that small doses of marijuana increased sexual drive and libido.
On the other hand, heavy long-term use was linked to negative effects in the bedroom, such as lack of interest in sex, erectile dysfunction, and lowered testosterone in men.
Still, many have reported that marijuana use has saved their sex lives, increasing orgasm and overall enjoyment in the bedroom.
Smoking marijuana also tends to clear your mind, which could help some people be more present and confident during sex.
9. Lung benefits
Though smoking marijuana has been linked to respiratory problems, it is still much healthier than smoking cigarettes.
In fact, studies show that smoking marijuana may even improve your lung capacity.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that marijuana users had a higher lung capacity than non-users on average. The study, published in 2012, followed over 5000 participants for 20 years, and was the largest and longest study of its kind.
Marijuana has also been reported to work as a bronchodilator (increases airflow to the lungs) for people with asthma.
10. Healthier skin
The two main cannabinoids in marijuana — THC and CBD — are powerful antioxidants that are thought to protect the body from oxidative stress.
Skin damage and aging are often caused by oxidative stress and free radicals. The number one way to combat this is with antioxidants — and marijuana is chock full of them.
In fact, a 1998 study found that THC and CBD have antioxidant properties comparable to Vitamins C and E.
The best way to harness the skin benefits of marijuana is to either vape it or use it as a topical. Smoking is not recommended due to its tendency to decrease collagen production, leading to older, less vibrant looking skin.
11. Menstrual cramps
Though research is still in its infancy, women everywhere have been using marijuana to ease their period cramps.
Some products, like cannabinoid infused suppositories and topicals have been specifically designed to relieve menstrual pain and cramping. Products like these are proving to be very popular among women.
There hasn’t been enough research done to be able to claim that marijuana can “cure” period pain. However, there have been studies that have shown marijuana to be effective in reducing nausea, chronic pain, and muscle spasms.
12. Lower weight and BMI
Marijuana could be the missing piece to reaching your weight loss goals.
A recent study involving over 13,000 adults found that marijuana users had consistently smaller waistlines than those who don’t smoke — even though marijuana users are known to consume more calories on average.
It was also discovered that people who used marijuana daily had a 3% lower BMI than non-users.
It wasn’t clear as to why marijuana users had a lower BMI. But other research suggests that marijuana users may break down blood sugar more quickly than non-users.
Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are becoming more and more prevalent. IBS is relatively common, affecting 10-20% of people. It causes symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation.
Endocannabinoids are thought to help control the speed at which food moves through the gut. Since there are cannabinoid receptors in our gut, it makes sense that those with IBS could find relief through smoking marijuana.
Although marijuana is often used by patients with chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cancer, there are some everyday health benefits to using marijuana that you may not have even considered.
When smoked regularly, marijuana can be helpful to many areas of health including anxiety relief, increased creativity, increased lung capacity, feelings of happiness, menstrual cramp relief, healthier skin, easier weight loss, increased sex drive, and improved digestion.