The healing powers of cannabis are immense. Not only can the herb help you relax and smile after a long day, but cannabis has been a life-saving tool for thousands of patients around the world.
What are the effects of long-term cannabis use?
It’s important to keep in mind that quality research in human cannabis consumers is difficult to come by. Thus far, it is difficult to make any conclusive claims about the long-term effects of cannabis smoking.
Last year, a study which followed 1,037 New Zealanders from birth to age 38 was published in JAMA Psychiatry.
The study found that, unlike tobacco, cannabis consumption was associated with no major physical health ailments. The study did find that cannabis consumers were more likely to have periodontal disease (the same disease caused by not flossing) than tobacco consumers.
However, overall, smoking tobacco was associated with poor lung function, metabolic health, systemic inflammation, and more general decline. Cannabis use for up to 20 years was not associated with any of these problems. However, it may be wise to floss.
Of course, a study like this cannot prove whether or not cannabis was the cause of periodontal disease, or whether this outcome was unique to this group of people.
Other preclinical and population research has inspired some debate over whether or not cannabis causes any major long-term changes.
Here are three of the hot discussions on cannabis and long-term health:
1. Cannabis and teens
For many parents and medical professionals, the biggest concern with cannabis regards the long-term effects of the herb for adolescent and teen consumers.
Thus far, research on whether or not heavy cannabis consumption leads to long-term brain changes or negative health impacts in teens is inconclusive.
However, teens are not encouraged to use cannabis as evidence that the herb can impact learning and memory have not been disproven.
For more information on what cannabis does to the brain, check out the article here.
2. Cannabis and the lungs
For anyone who smokes, smoldering cannabis particles can irritate the lungs and cause chronic bronchial irritation. This irritation can cause coughing, inflammation, and microscopic tissue damage.
However, evidence suggests that this damage goes away when you stop smoking. Switching to a vaporizer can also help this situation.
At this point, the long-term effects on lung health are also unresolved. While several studies have shown no link between moderate cannabis consumption and lung cancer, the exact effect of what cannabis does to the lungs long-term can’t be determined by the research thus far.
For more information on cannabis and your lungs, check out these articles:
- Healthy Lungs #1: Do Marijuana Users Have A Greater Lung Capacity?
- Healthy Lungs #2: Marijuana And COPD
- Healthy Lungs #3: Marijuana And Emphysema
- Healthy Lungs #4: The Effects Of Long-Term Marijuana Smoking
- How To Smoke Weed and Keep Your Lungs Healthy
3. Cannabis and the gut
In rare cases, some case studies and recent papers have theorized that some people may develop a recently identified “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.” Those with this proposed condition experience cyclic vomiting after chronic cannabis consumption over the course of years.
Though, critics question whether or not this condition actually exists. If it does, it’s unclear how the herb plays a role and what populations are likely to experience this phenomenon.
On the flip side, cannabinoid medicines provide effective relief to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, as well as encourage appetite in patients with HIV/AIDS.
For more information on cannabis and your gut, check out these articles:
- Cannabis & The Gut: Does Weed Heal Or Harm?
- Is Cannabis The Perfect Treatment For Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
- 6 Surprising Pros & Cons Of Using Cannabis For Digestion
- IBD: Does Cannabis Help Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
The information in this article is for educational purposes, and should not be used in place of medical advice.