In recent years there has been a big surge in natural remedies and their use, with anti-vaxx people being the ones who started pushing this agenda. But now more people have come around to the idea of using some natural remedies to prevent illness or to use alongside conventional medicine, and one natural remedy that keeps cropping up in conversation is marijuana and its medicinal effects. But which is better?
What are natural remedies?
To decide which is better you first need to know what natural remedies are. Natural remedies can be herbs, natural oils, essential oils, and even plants (such as marijuana). Some of these are known to have positive effects, such as lavender or chamomile for instance, which is proven to help calm you down and aid in sleep. There are even some types of ‘medicine’ called homeopathy, which consists of diluted herbs put into a tablet form, which is said to be able to help cure some ailments. The same is sometimes said for essential oils, where you can buy an essential oil diffuser to help put the smell of these herbs into a room as well as adding some humidity, where the scent can help to relax you and the humidity is better for you breathing in.
Do they work?
There is very little proven evidence that most natural remedies work, and instead, it is advised that if you use them, you should use them alongside conventional medicine. And although homeopathy is considered a branch of medicine by some, there is no proven evidence that it works, and ingesting essential oils or putting them directly on the skin may actually be harmful to your health. Herbs will not help to cure cancer, but using them to maintain a healthy lifestyle may help in decreasing your chances of getting it. However, natural remedies that come from the cannabis plants (also known as cannabinoids) are rumored to have some medicinal qualities, and in places such as the States or the UK there has been a big push to start including these in conventional medicine.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are concentrated chemicals and elements from the cannabis plant. This can include CBD and CBN, and although CBD is used more wildly now and less frowned upon (think of Body Shop hemp products, CBD tablets and oils for sleep) it is not something that doctors can write prescriptions for yet. CBN is a more recent discovery to the branch of cannabinoids that is very similar to CBD in its effects and abilities to help aid ailments. But what are the differences between CBN and CBD and how are they useful to medicine? CBN is actually formed from decaying THC, which is the element in cannabis that gives you the high feeling and is the reason it is classed as a recreational drug and banned in some countries. And although it is created from degrading THC, it does not have the same effects that THC has. However, the process of turning THC into CBN is an extremely long process, making it less useful overall. CBD is a separate compound to THC and this makes it relatively easy to extract from the plant and has also been known to help with pain relief and relieve anxiety.
The push for cannabinoids inclusion
There has been a lot of pressure in recent years from both the public and researchers for governments to start funding more research into marijuana and all the medicinal properties it holds, and to include it in conventional medicine. And with more reports coming out in how it has been proven to help with some illnesses such as seizures, and even to help alongside some cancer treatments, this pressure is continuing to increase. Although marijuana can be used recreationally, even just smoking it has been said to have medicinal effects, such as pain relief which is what a lot of people use it for, and in some parts of the states, it can be bought for these medicinal purposes, although the UK is yet to follow suit.
So which is better, natural or conventional?
Overall, conventional medicine is the only way to cure and treat illness. Many natural remedies such as the ones stated above do not have any scientific claims behind them, and instead are used by herbalists to scam people, or by people who have a fear of medicine. And if used in the wrong way or dosage, they could end up being very harmful to your health. With that said, some natural remedies do have medicinal properties and can be extracted from to use in a safe and controlled manner (such as cannabinoids) but it is yet to be introduced formally into medicine.
So unfortunately there is not any cheaper cure than booking an appointment for the doctors at the moment, but as research continues into other forms of medicine, hopefully we will be able to rely less on pills and appointments. And if you still want to try out natural remedies, make sure you do plenty of research into it and look for research based studies done by professionals to make sure you don’t do more harm than good.