One of the most well known ailments to be treated with cannabis is glaucoma; even Bill Maher jokes that he smokes cannabis to treat his glaucoma. Despite the popularity of the cultural allusions, glaucoma is a serious medical condition that often results in irreversible blindness. Cannabis has been shown to help alleviate pain symptoms, and patients suffering from glaucoma have praised the holistic properties of cannabis, both smoked and eaten. Most of this praise focuses on the benefits of cannabis with high THC contents, but other cannabinoids may also help, potentially even more than THC.
People are able to use cannabis to treat numerous issue because the endocannabinoid system encompass a large portion of our bodies, including our eyes. Glaucoma is a disease that slowly damages a person’s optic nerve, a major component of the eye. Much of this damage is a result of an increase in eye pressure, which can also be very painful. Current treatment options for glaucoma include surgery, eye drops, and, when possible, cannabis. Many patients choose cannabis because they find it eases the pressure in their eyes. This reduction in pressure should in turn slow glaucoma’s damaging effect on the eyes.
Although many people do not like the dissociative or “stoned” effects connected to THC, other cannabinoids with less intense psychoactive properties also permeate throughout marijuana. Cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two less prevalent cannabinoids that also have the ability to reduce ocular pressure. CBD is growing in popularity because of its usefulness as an anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tremor medication. Several cannabis strains are commonly grown with high CBD percentages and low THC percentages, allowing for patients to easily find medication high in CBD. Because this medication is anti-inflammatory, it can help reduce damaging eye pressure caused by glaucoma. CBG, on the other hand, has less popularity, and is less obtainable. However, it might be the best cannabinoid for treating glaucoma, and it has shown to drastically reduce ocular pressure. Some believe that if a water based CBG eye drop solution were created, it would do wonders to treat and prevent further damage caused by glaucoma.
Although cannabis is widely agreed to help treat one of the most damaging and painful symptoms of glaucoma, many doctors still voice concern about its use. A large concern has to do with the long-term negative effects that smoking can have on a person’s lungs. For that reason, many patients choose cannabis edibles to treat glaucoma, thus eliminating the risk of lung damage. Another issue people have with cannabis treatment is the duration of the effects only lasting around four to six hours. This means that cannabis would have to be continually used to keep ocular pressure in check. This might be alright for some, but not everybody enjoys or can properly function while medicating with THC dominant cannabis. These patients may find a more desirable treatment with CBD tinctures or capsules.
The newer concerns with cannabis as a potential treatment for glaucoma have come from a further understanding of glaucoma. A decrease in blood pressure can negatively affect the ocular nerve, which could be detrimental to patients with glaucoma. Cannabis has been shown to decrease blood pressure, thus reversing some of the potential benefit perceived by the reduction of ocular pressure. It is unclear, however, whether the decrease in blood pressure caused from cannabis treatments does more harm than the positive relief it brings. Furthermore, some research is starting to link glaucoma to alzheimer’s disease. This connection encourages doctors and researchers to seek more valuable treatments that could encompass the symptoms and causes of both neurodegenerative disorders.
If you or somebody you know is currently suffering from glaucoma, please, feel free to contact Arbors Wellness for more information on how medical marijuana may be able to help.