Benefits of Marijuana: Physical, Psychological, & Spiritual

The Physical benefits of marijuana are far-reaching, widespread, and long-term. Because of the way marijuana impacts the Autonomic Nervous System which expands the breath and relaxes the body, its potential for health and healing are enormous, and have been completely unrealized by Western Medicine. The following passages are excerpted from The Benefits of Marijuana: Physical, Psychological, & Spiritual:  The Benefits of Marijuana by Joan Bello

The simultaneous opposing action of marijuana is akin to balancing our entire system. Such balance in the ANS can be understood as a charged equilibrium, which is defined as “well-being” experienced as physiological expansion and psychological contentment and responsible for health. (p. 29)

The net effect is a highly functioning, yet relaxed, system with better fuel. This is why, with marijuana, the feeling is both relaxed and alert, which explains, in part, the experience of being “stoned.” Normally the body vacillates between the two opposing modes of being. The effects of the complicated marijuana molecule somehow actually integrate these two modes, simultaneously, as absolutely nothing else does. (p. 30)

Although specific effects of marijuana in the body are well known, each has been taken in isolation without noting that both sides of the Autonomic Nervous System are conjoined. Instead of a perspective that sees the whole person and the simple holistic effect of marijuana, a myopic and reductionistic method of measurement has been employed, and marijuana’s profound meaning for health has been lost. (p. 31)

Marijuana, by its effect on the ANS, enhances both sides of the brain. Through increased Sympathetic action, left brain perception is heightened, while, at the same time, right brain reception is enhanced. This is a physiological fact. More blood, and cleaner blood, is sent to the brain, as in the “fight or flight” reaction. And because of Parasympathetic dilation of capillaries, which signifies relaxation, the blood supply to the entire brain is increased. More blood means more oxygen and consequently clearer and broader thinking. Since marijuana works on both sides of the brain, the most noticeable effect, in our fast-paced mind set, is one of slowing down, which blends the thrusting competitive attitude with the contrasting viewpoint of nurturance to arrive at a more cooperative balance. This experience is, however, not innate to marijuana, but to the mental set of the subject. When we are mellow, tired, and relaxed, marijuana is energizing and affords alertness, determination, and even strength. This variation in the physiological effects has caused great confusion from an either/or framework. And the balancing nature of marijuana (both/and) has not been understood. It both stimulates and relaxes, simultaneously, which equates to an unpredictable variation in effect that is solely dependent on the state of its subject. When the system is sluggish, as with natives in warm climates (Africa, India, South America), marijuana has been used extensively and for centuries to energize it:

A common practice among laborers… have a puff of a ganja (marijuana) pipe to produce well-being, relieve fatigue, stimulate appetite. (Chopra and Chopra, 1939, p.3)

When the system is hyper-aroused, as in today’s lifestyle, marijuana calms. The significance of this fact cannot be ignored. It explains the increased creativity reported as a part of the marijuana experience, because when both sides of brain processes are heightened, both types of brain activity are greater. The left brain notices more, while the right brain receives more. This is the unification of logic and intuition. The term “expansion of consciousness” is explained physiologically as a “shifting of brain emphasis from one-sidedness to balance” (Sugarmena and Tarter, 1978), which fits precisely with the feeling called “high.” (p. 35) Continue reading