One of the most difficult parts of primary care for doctors is to influence their patients to change their lifestyles. Everyone knows that exercise and a healthy diet can lower blood pressure but few people actually do it. A doctor can persuade and encourage his patients to take the necessary steps to lower their blood pressure naturally, but ultimately they end up prescribing them blood pressure medications. It’s just a lot easier for people to keep their own lifestyle and take a pill instead of changing their lifestyle and not taking a pill.
Marijuana provides a great opportunity for change to a healthy lifestyle. There are different ways to use cannabis. A lot of people medicate and get high and then watch TV or go to bed and don’t do much else for the rest of the day. It doesn’t have to be like that. Cannabis can be a medication that is used to substitute bad habbits for good ones.
People who already use cannabis and then become patients with medical marijuana cards may stay stuck in their old ways. New patients who have not used cannabis, however, can begin to use it in a way that anchors it to exercise and healthy living. All cannabis users, however, can use marijuana as a way to promote healthier habbits. Whenever possible, finish your chores and responsibilities before using it and when you do use it, combine it with positive activity that encourages a better quality of life.
Cannabis and Physical Activity
Exercise improves physical and mental health. It can improve many symptoms that patients treat with cannabis. Chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and man other diseases improve with exercise. Patients who start to use cannabis to treat these symptoms will have a faster and stronger recovery when it is used in combination with physical activity.
For example, instead of vaping and then not doing anything for two hours, you can vape in the morning before taking a brisk walk or a light jog. Put on some headphones and your favorite music, take a hit or two of your vape pen and go outside. The cannabis will help ease your pains and work better because your circulation will be more active and your inflammation will go down. Make this a daily routine and do your best to exercise as many days in a row as you can. If you miss a day or two, think about how much better you are beginning to feel with this new routine and go out and do it one more time. Keep up the great work!
Try to add some kind of physical exercise whenever you medicate. This might not be practical for everyone but for a lot of people this is a good way to change lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be cardiovascular either. You can lift weights or do yoga. We recommend the book Ganja Yoga that incorporates cannabis use with stretching and yoga exercises. They have a website too with online classes. Just be careful not to use too much cannabis before any activity that can hurt you (like squatting and heavy lifting) so you don’t injure yourself. Remember to make form a priority when exercising high.
Interestingly, one study has shown that THC increases testosterone. After using cannabis consistently, your body may actually become more fit and muscular as a result of this. Lifting weights does the same thing so combining cannabis with resistance training will multiply that effect.
Weight Loss and Dieting
As mentioned in our Side Effects article, cannabis has been shown to cause munchies – a strong craving for food and snacks that occurs after getting high. This is only a short term side effect that goes away with time. In the long term, however, cannabis seems to lower cravings for food and suppress hunger.
In our modern society, we can purchase food and snacks at any time. We store them in our cabinets and we eat them whenever we are hungry. That is not what our bodies are designed to do. The body preserves energy at times when there is plentiful food so that it can survive any future famines. This means that when we have snacks laying around and grocery stores full of food for us, we over eat and our appetite grows in time. That’s why we have such an obesity epidemic in Western countries.
Cannabis use can actually lower the appetite in the long run and reset it to healthy levels. Sure, you might get some munchies sometimes so be careful not to binge eat when that happens. The munchies go away as you use cannabis more regularly and cannabis can begin to suppress appetite in people who are overweight. The endocannabinoid system has been shown to be involved in appetite regulation. At Nature’s Way Medicine, our patients frequently tell us that they lost weight over the year when they come to renew their cards. Interestingly, cannabis also stimulates appetite in people who are malnourished or underweight.
You can use cannabis to make your lifestyle more healthy by inhaling THC instead of snacking. This only works when you have a high enough tolerance that you don’t get the munchies anymore after using it. Once that happens, you can take a puff to help suppress appetite. It will alleviate food cravings between meals so you can wait till lunch or dinner before eating. In this way you will decrease the snacking between meals and resume a regular cycle of two or three meals per day. Afterall, it is usually the snacking that makes us put on pounds more than eating a big breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
This idea is backed up by science. Multiple studies have shown that patients who use cannabis have a lower body mass index (BMI). A three year study was published on this in 2019 in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Two surveys across the U.S. have also shown healthier weight in cannabis users. A study on patients with fibromyalgia showed that cannabis use resulted in weight loss that lowered pain and improved outcomes.
Cannabis use is associated with lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. These are significant problems for patients that are obese because as people gain weight, their bodies have a harder time controling the pressure in their arteries and the amount of sugar floating around their blood after a meal. These are issues with metabolism as a result of an overactive appetite (and less physical activity). Studies have shown that marijuana users have significantly less diabetes, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
In time, as regulations relax and more research is conducted, we may find that cannabis use is especially important in keeping a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The old stereo types of lazy stoners will be replaced by highly-functioning medical marijuana patients with healthy diets and active lives. You too can become like this with the help of cannabis but you have to use it in a way that encourages reinventing your life and passions into those of a healthy, active individual!
Alcohol and Tobacco Cessation
Many people use alcohol at the end of the day to relax. It is obvious that alcohol is very detrimental to the body. It is like a poison. Even if patients use alcohol in only moderate amounts and don’t get drunk, it is a contributing factor to cancer and worse health. Alcohol causes elevated blood pressure and poor sleep. It is also very addicting and habit forming. Alcoholism is a serious problem that can result from a slippery slope of increasing alcohol use.
For these reasons, it is very valuable to substitute alcohol use for cannabis. In states where cannabis is recreational, this is easier to do. Unfortunately, in states where only medical marijuana is allowed, patients need to have a medical condition that is allowed to be treated with cannabis. Once they have a medical marijuana card, they can use the cannabis to treat their condition but also to substitute for alcohol and tobacco.
Many patients at Nature’s Way Medicine have substituted cannabis for alcohol or tobacco and managed to stop them completely. Millions of people die from these substances every year but no one has died from cannabis. If everyone managed to change over to cannabis instead of alcohol and tobacco, we would save countless lives.
Check out our Cannabis Education page for great articles about marijuana and stay tuned for new updates to our Conditions section, where we will be explaining how to use cannabis to treat specific conditions.
Also, don’t forget to check our Blog for important updates about cannabis law changes and research. We post there each Friday so you can stay informed about the rapidly changing political and legal environment regarding cannabis.