Cannabis & Alzheimer’s

According to brain experts, cannabis has shown considerable promise for treating the cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s, but federal regulators keep blocking their path toward a cure.

Despite evidence suggesting that chemicals found in cannabis can helpfully clear the brain of buildup that leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, ongoing federal opposition to the drug makes the road to finding a cure a long and difficult one, according to researchers. As the Independent reports, scientists at California’s renowned Salk Institute are expressing concern over the fairly unfounded legal hurdles that keep slowing down their work toward an effective treatment for these fatal diseases, which afflict millions of Americans each year.

Last year, the team published study resultsindicating that the active chemicals or cannabinoids found in cannabis, such as euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can effectively relieve the amyloid protein buildup and cell damage related to dementia using some of the brain’s own protective measures. Unlike methods which seek to remove amyloid buildup from the outside of brain cells, CNBC explained, those explored by Salk researchers work with the brain’s natural endocannabanoids, which prevent cell death, to fight buildup inside cells and resulting inflammation at an earlier stage in the disease.

Given the current lack of safe, effective treatments and the overall low cost and often minimal side-effects of in medicinal cannabis, the studies should be cause for celebration among advocates and caregivers for the millions of Americans who suffer from dementia, and for the over five million whose condition developed into Alzheimer’s disease, the most common kind of dementia, and for which fatality rates have risen by over 70% since 2000, CNBC noted.

According to lead author Professor David Schubert, however, these innovative results would seem a lot more promising if researchers’ next steps weren’t already bound up by federal regulation and red tape. “It’s a totally unexplored area, because researchers have been stopped by the DEA, due to the way the agency classifies marijuana,” Schubert told CNBC. “The result is that basically no clinical trials have been held to test the use of marijuana-based drugs in the treatment of Alzheimer’s or any other neurodegenerative disease. It’s not right that they have that type of say over something that could be very useful.” He continued,People are dying of this disease, and there is nothing out there for them… Marijuana is not physically addictive, although it can be psychologically addictive like, sugar, salt and fat, none of which are classified as Schedule I drugs. It’s ridiculous when in California anyone can legally go down to the corner store and just buy marijuana.

Schubert pointed out to CNBC that the pharmaceutical industry, with its extremely healthy lobbying power in D.C., is likely a major force in creating legal hurdles for researchers. “The pharmaceutical companies want to stop the use of cannabis in the research community because it’s a natural product, so it can’t be patented,” he said. “They can’t make money on it, so they are against it.”

CNBC also noted that, while an estimated one in three seniors will die fighting dementia and a new Alzheimer’s diagnosis is delivered every 66 seconds, the costs of holding back effective treatment don’t just involve human life. The site points to a 2015 study by the National Institutes of Health which found that the overall price of late-stage dementia exceeds that of any other disease, and to recent estimates that the economic cost of caring for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients totalled a whopping $236 billion last year. During a dementia-sufferer’s final five years of life, that could easily amount to upwards of $287,000 annually per person.

Drug companies are still pouring time and research dollars into potential treatments for the diseases, of course, but even mainstream, pot-free methods have found little success and been slow in coming. According to Schubert, that’s because pharmaceutical companies are not just trying to prevent cannabis cures, but also on the wrong track for finding their own. “They are trying to use antibodies to get rid of plaque that is outside the cell, but that is too late in the disease,” Schubert said.

However, while our big, highly evolved brains still have ample ways of holding us back, it is thankfully never too late to change the way we offer support to others, be it from research labs or the very law of the land.

Source : The Independent

CBD Oil for Pain

CBD oil is quickly becoming a mainstream product for chronic pain, stress, anxiety, and other ailments. The cannabis-derived chemical contains safe and natural medicinal benefits without the side effects of NSAIDs, analgesics, or opioids. In fact, many patients who previously relied on Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or Vicodin to control pain found CBD to help cut down on the number of pills needed to function each day. CBD oil is worth a try for anyone looking to relieve chronic pain.

Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Simply put, chronic pain is just pain that never really goes away. Sometimes it’s associated with a larger problem such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis. It can come on in any form of pain sensation whether it be dull, aching, pins and needles, or sensitivity. Nerve dysfunction and inflammation are two causes of chronic pain, which can be genetic or brought on diet and lifestyle habits. In 2015, about 25 million adults were reported as having some form of chronic pain.

How CBD Relieves Pain
CBD oil helps relieve pain through the endocannabinoid system, a complex system that controls a range of metabolic functions. There are many different receptors throughout the endocannabinoid system, but CBD primarily works with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors exist throughout the brain and central nervous system, controlling essential processes like sleep, appetite, mood, smell, and motor control. CB2 receptors are located in the immune system, peripheral nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and brain.

CBD works by triggering CB1 and CB2 receptors through various molecular pathways. This produces analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, neuroprotective, and even antidepressive effects that help patients suffering from chronic pain. Since these receptors exist all throughout the body, the result is a systemic relief.

How to Consume CBD Oil for Treatment
CBD is most commonly consumed in the form of pure CBD crystals or pure CBD oil, which is usually made with a food-grade oil.

CBD crystals can be dissolved under the tongue, smoked through a vape pen, or smoked through a dab rig. They can even be sprinkled in a joint or on top of a bowl for an added smoke session boost, or into food or beverages.

Many dispensaries sell oil cartridges for vape pens that are free of THC and contain CBD only for immediate relief of pain and inflammation.

Which Conditions Can CBD Help?
CBD has shown positive results when put up against many chronic illnesses, particularly those throughout the immune or nervous system.

Cannabis is recommended for patients with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease with no known cure where the immune system attacks the nerves and spinal cord. One study showed CBD to inhibit the release of inflammatory compounds that cause painful flare-ups.

CBD is also recommended for patients with Crohn’s disease, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of digestive lining. Like MS, Crohn’s has no cure and CBD is recommended to calm pain during flare-ups.

There is a lot of research needed to evaluate how CBD can benefit cancer patients or inhibit tumor growth. However, what we do know is that cancer patients have used cannabis for pain relief, appetite stimulation, and also relief from chemo-induced nausea.

CBD oil is also highly recommended for patients with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and undiagnosed chronic pain.

Pharmaceuticals VS. CBD For Pain
One of the biggest benefits of CBD oil is the potential to reduce the number of pills needed for relief. Most of us can handle Tylenol, Advil, or opioids in moderation. However, these drugs can still lead to gastrointestinal damage, increased tolerance, dependency, addiction, and overdose.

CBD oil does not cause gastrointestinal damage and it is not known to be habit-forming. All it takes for a patient to become addicted to opioids is a 10-day prescription, which can be prescribed for anything from a pulled muscle to a kidney stone.

In states with legal marijuana, some rehab centers use cannabis as a tapering method for patients going through withdrawal.

Source : International Highlife

 

Cannabis-Infused Gum to Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain

Now you can chew cannabis gum to ease your chronic pain
Cannabis is known for its amazing effects on easing pain of all sorts: from irritable bowel syndrome to fibromyalgia to seizures to cancer pains. You name it! Many opt for smoking or eating cannabis to gain pain relief, but soon, you’ll also have an option to chew it.
The cannabis gum is called MedChewRx®, first to be FDA-approved
Axim Biotechnologies has developed the cannabis chewing gum called MedChewRx®. The gum is going through a series of clinical trials, with the goal of gaining FDA and equivalent international approval as prescription medications. Axim’s goal is completing Phase 3 clinical trials in early 2018.
This gum is made with fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis in mind
MedChew Rx® is being developed as a pharmaceutical drug to treat pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) and fibromyalgia. The gum is intended to offer patients more consistent relief than existing cannabis-derived products that are smoked or eaten.
MedChewRx® contains 5mg each of THC and CBD
The cannabis gum is formulated with 5 mg of cannabidiol (CBD) and 5 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC and CBD are both natural compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. The chemical compositions of both elements might be the same, but to put it in the simplest form possible, THC is psychoactive, while CBD is not. Both compounds have an impressive list of ways that they support the human body.
99% pure pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids are used
Axim Biotechnologies imports cannabis from the Dutch Government’s Office of Medicinal Cannabis, extracts and purifies cannabis strains into 99% pure pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids to produce MedChewRx®.

Until the cannabis gum is out on the market, you can try these cannabis treatment options
1. CBD Oil
CBD oil comes in many forms: tinctures, capsules, and topicals. CBD oil offers therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive properties.
2. Smoking
There are many different strains to choose from. Consult your doctor or research for the right strain for your purpose.
3. Edibles
Cookies, brownies, chocolate, and drinks are just a few of the edible options. Again, make sure to choose the product with the right strain for your use.

Source : DIV Health Academy

Cannabis and Alzheimer’s Disease

Compounds in cannabis may be able to help symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.Memory gradually declines with age for everyone. But for those with Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss can be so severe that they can lose the ability to recognize their loved ones.Areas of the brain responsible for memory are affected in Alzheimer’s, and these areas are highly regulated by the endocannabinoid system. This system is activated by compounds in marijuana known as cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, also have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects that may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here, we discuss the merits of marijuana as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that mostly occurs in the elderly. The disease is progressive, meaning symptoms tend to worsen over time.

Neurodegeneration is the process of losing brain cells over time. It is not known what causes neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s.

The most well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s is dementia. Initial symptoms of dementia include problems with memory, but gradually expand into other symptoms like language impairments and behavioural changes.

The progression of Alzheimer’s is associated with the formation of plaques in the brain. These plaques form when a compound known as beta-amyloid is released from brain cells into grey matter.

These plaques actually form in the brains of healthy older adults too, but genetic differences in patients with Alzheimer’s cause a significantly higher number of plaques to form.

Can Cannabis Help Alzheimer’s Disease?
Overall, there is not much evidence on whether marijuana can treat Alzheimer’s, but early reports are promising.

There is preliminary evidence that cannabinoids have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Because of this, some researchers believe that marijuana may help with Alzheimer’s.

Researchers have investigated the role of the endocannabinoid system in Alzheimer’s disease. The endocannabinoid system is crucial in regulating memory, and scientists believe it may be affected in Alzheimer’s. Since marijuana stimulates the endocannabinoid system, it may be able to offer some benefits.

During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the endocannabinoid system is blocked by the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. This disruption of the endocannabinoid system is believed to be partially responsible for the early symptoms of memory impairments.

Other evidence has found that cannabinoids can help protect brain cells from damage and prevent cognitive impairments in animal models of Alzheimer’s. This has led to an interest in THC as a potential treatment option. THC is thought to exert its neuroprotective effects by activating CB1 receptors.

Benefits of Cannabis For Alzheimer’s Disease

Cannabinoids reduce inflammation

Inflammation in the brain leads to damage in neurons and is believed to contribute to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s.

A 2009 study found that cannabinoids can help regulate inflammation in the brain. The researchers concluded that cannabinoids could someday be used to reduce inflammation in neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Marijuana improves memory

The most well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is the loss of memory. Patients slowly lose the ability to recognize their loved ones, their surroundings, and how to communicate.

A 2012 study showed cannabinoids can help protect brain cells from the beta-amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

The study used a synthetic cannabinoid called WIN55212-2, which acts on cannabinoid receptors. The researchers observed that the cannabinoid improved memory in a rodent model of Alzheimer’s.

THC is neuroprotective

Like other neurodegenerative disorders, protecting the brain from further damage is an important element in treating Alzheimer’s. Cannabinoids are known to have neuroprotective properties, and researchers are investigating their potential in Alzheimer’s.

A 2016 study used human nerve cells to investigate the effects of THC on beta-amyloid levels.

The researchers found that THC improved the removal of beta-amyloid from the cells. THC also reduced inflammation and protected the neurons from damage. This evidence suggests that THC might be able to reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

A 2006 study showed that THC might be able to block acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme that contributes to beta-amyloid plaque production.

Marijuana improves behavioural issues

As Alzheimer’s progresses, symptoms other than memory deficits begin to develop. During the late stages of the disease, behavioural problems such as irritability and aggression become more prevalent.

In a 1997 study, researchers found that THC could reduce behavioural disturbances in Alzheimer’s disease, and improved appetite in patients. The researchers noted that the effects of THC lasted into the placebo period, indicating that THC had long-term benefits.

Another human trial on the impact of THC in Alzheimer’s disease found that marijuana-infused oils could improve behavioural issues.

The study involved 11 patients, and was published in 2016 by researchers in Israel. Delusions, aggression, irritability, apathy, and sleep were significantly improved when the cannabis oil was added to the patients’ treatment regimens.

CBD and Alzheimer’s Disease

When discussing marijuana in a medical context, it’s important to consider the differences between THC and CBD. Despite coming from the same plant, these cannabinoids behave very differently in the body and offer unique therapeutic effects.

Unlike THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects. This can be very helpful for patients who can’t tolerate the psychoactive side effects of THC.

CBD can also reduce symptoms of psychosis and anxiety, suggesting it may be a better alternative for Alzheimer’s patients suffering from psychiatric symptoms. THC, on the other hand, may exacerbate these symptoms.

CBD might improve memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease. A 2014 studypublished in the journal Psychopharmacology found that CBD could reverse cognitive deficits in an animal model of Alzheimer’s when given on a regular basis.

In a 2017 study, CBD was found to reduce the levels of proteins that contribute to beta-amyloid plaque production.

CBD may also help promote growth of new brain cells that have died off because of beta-amyloid plaques. A 2011 study found that CBD increased neurogenesis in the hippocampus, an area that regulates memory and is damaged in Alzheimer’s disease.

In a 2017 review of the pre-clinical evidence for CBD as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, researchers found that CBD had anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. However, these effects still require confirmation from clinical trials to determine whether the results are relevant to humans.

Summary

While preliminary research is promising, human trials are needed to determine if marijuana can be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Both THC and CBD have shown potential to reduce inflammation and protect neurons from damage by beta-amyloid plaques. In addition, CBD may promote the growth of new brain cells, and has fewer side effects than THC.

While there is not a lot of human research, some studies have found that THC can reduce behavioural disturbances in Alzheimer’s patients.

Based on early findings, some scientists believe marijuana has the potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Source : Leaf Science

 

Is Cannabis Better for Chronic Pain Than Opioids?

Chronic pain can be an incredibly debilitating condition. For many who live with it on a daily or near daily basis, the condition can be so oppressive, it affects other parts of their lives, impacting their mood, health, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, many treatment options are only nominally effective. Worse, commonly prescribed drugs like opioids are highly addictive and potentially toxic; 28,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2014, more than any other year in history. No wonder a growing number of the estimated one in five Americans who suffer from chronic pain are turning to cannabis as an alternative.
While many people believe cannabis to be an effective treatment, what does the science say? Is it really more effective and safer than other drugs? Fortunately, when it comes to cannabis and cannabinoid-based formulations, chronic pain is one of the best studied conditions. However, the causes of chronic pain are diverse. Moreover, chronic pain can be nociceptive or neuropathic. Nociceptive pain is caused by tissue damage or inflammation. Neuropathic pain is caused by nervous system damage or malfunction.
Everyone’s biology is unique and will respond differently to cannabis depending on a number of variables, including what type of chronic pain they experience, dosage, strain, and administration method (vaping, edibles, tinctures, etc.).
How Effective is Cannabis for Chronic Pain Relief?
How effective is cannabis for chronic pain relief?
In a comprehensive, Harvard-led systematic review of 28 studies examining the efficacy of exo-cannabinoids (e.g. synthetic formulations or cannabinoids from the plant) to treat various pain and medical issues, the author concluded, “Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high quality evidence.”
Of the studies reviewed, six out of six general chronic pain studies and five out of five neuropathic pain studies found a significant improvement in symptoms among patients. Notably, while most of the studies were limited to synthetic preparations of cannabinoids, three of the five neuropathic pain studies investigated “smoked” cannabis, while two examined an oral spray preparation.
Dr. Donald Abrams, a professor and Chief of Hematology/Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, supports cannabis to treat chronic pain, suggesting the following:
“Given the safety profile of cannabis compared to opioids, cannabis appears to be far safer. However, if a patient is already using opioids, I would urge them not to make any drastic changes to their treanntment protocol without close supervision by their physician.”
Both THC and CBD in cannabis are known to elicit analgesic effects, especially when used together due to their congruent chemical synergies.

Cannabis vs. opioids
North America has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Prescriptions have increased 400% percent since 1999, and with this trend a shocking increase in fatal overdoses has followed. Every day, 40 people now die from prescription narcotic overdoses. Many also move on to heroin because it is cheaper, easier to find, and more potent.
Could cannabis be part of the solution? Quite possibly. An increasing number of studies provide evidence that many patients can use cannabis instead of opioids to treat their pain, or they can significantly reduce their reliance on opioids.
A University of Michigan March 2016 study published in the Journal of Pain provides some compelling data. They found that cannabis:
Decreased side effects from other medications
Improved quality of life
Reduced use of opioids (on average) by 64%
Prescription Drug Use Falls in Medical Cannabis States
“We are learning that the higher the dose of opioids people are taking, the higher the risk of death from overdose,” said Dr. Daniel Clauw, one of the study’s researchers and a professor of pain management anesthesiology at the University of Michigan Medical School. “[The] magnitude of reduction in our study is significant enough to affect an individual’s risk of accidental death from overdose.”
Kevin Ameling, a chronic pain patient who now works for a Colorado-based non-profit cannabis research advocacy group called the IMPACT Network, is a success story. Ameling believes cannabis saved him from a life of dependency on prescription drugs. In 2007, he suffered a severe fall and was prescribed a cocktail of prescription drugs that included OxyContin, Tramadol, Clonazepam, and Lexapro. The pain became so severe that he had to progressively increase dosage while the OxyContin became less and less effective.
Living in Colorado, he decided to try medical marijuana in 2013. He claims he achieved results immediately and was able to significantly reduce his prescription intake. He cut his OxyContin dosage by 50%, reduced Clonazepam from 3 mg to 0.5 mg, Lexapro from 30 mg to 5 mg, and Tramadol from 300 mg to 75 mg.
“It’s hard to express in words what a life changer medical marijuana has been for me,” said Ameling. “I was becoming increasingly worried about having to take higher doses of prescription drugs that can be highly addictive and toxic. Not only was I able to cut back significantly, with cannabis I can often skip the OxyContin with no adverse effects, something I couldn’t do before.”
Cannabis Can Take a Bit of Trial and Error
Cannabis can take a bit of trial and error
Ameling added, “Everyone will respond differently. For me, I found smoking can worsen my symptoms, while low dose edibles work the best.”
No doubt, the chemical composition of the strain you choose and how you consume will affect the outcome. It may take a little trial and error before you find the most effective cannabis strain, dose, and preferred method of administration for your pain. Most importantly, if you are currently using opioids, exercise extreme caution. A change in treatment protocol should be done under medical supervision.
And, finally, heed the advice of Dr. Michael Hart, head physician at Marijuana for Trauma in Canada: “When considering cannabis to treat chronic pain, the adage ‘less is more’ rings true. Patients seem to find more relief in indica strains which are higher in THC than most sativa or hybrid strains. What we’ve found is that these strains can be highly effective in low to moderate doses, but could actually make pain worse in higher doses. So it’s important to start low, and titrate up as appropriate.”

Source : Leafly

CAN CANNABIS INHIBIT CERVICAL CANCER?

The disease that persistently plagues us today is cancer.

Cancer is an umbrella term that essentially results in gross proliferation of certain cell types throughout the body and can form (metastasize) in many different ways. The result is always the same, hyper-growth of a certain group of cells, depriving our bodies’ natural cells from properly functioning and surviving.

One particular variety of cancer that is having a detrimental impact on sub-Saharan Africa is cervical cancer.

Currently, there are a quarter million African women who die of cervical cancer a year, demanding further research into inexpensive and effective treatments. It has been known for decades that cannabis use helps cancer patients, though the science behind cannabis’s effect is not well understood.

While there are many ways in which cancer can form, there seem to be some common features, and they revolve around a cellular function known as apoptosis. Apoptosis, otherwise described as “programmed cell-death,” is a last resort effort in preventing the spread of malfunctioning cells.

The cell is at a constant equilibrium of anti/pro apoptotic signals, when the pro-signals “outnumber” the anti-signals, the cell initiates a cascade of reactions resulting in cellular self-destruction.

One common way in which cancer manifests itself is in the hyper-expression of anti-apoptotic signals, preventing the cell from self-destructing, resulting in over-growth and tumor development. One of the prominent signals in the cell that is associated with cancer growth is a protein called Bcl-2. While there is not a mutation in the protein itself, there are a series of mutations that cause the cell to make too much Bcl-2.

Recently, a lab at North West University in South Africa did a series of experiments using extracts from cannabis sativa. The researchers used a “cancer model” to perform their experiments on. (One example of these “model cancer” cells are the HeLa cells, an immortalized cell line that is widely used in molecular biology.)

It was discovered that cannabis sativa extract could not only inhibit the growth of cancer cells, but in some cases outright kill the cells.

The compound in the extract that is believed to be active is cannabidiol, better known as CBD. Researchers believe that the mechanism of action is that CBD activates a Bcl-2 degradation pathway. If you recall, Bcl-2 is an anti-apoptotic signal (keeping the cell alive), so if it is degraded, then the cell will succeed in killing itself.

Further research needs to be conducted to better understand the mechanism in detail, as well as exploring potential off-target effects. It would not be a good idea to use a drug that killed all cells!

There is an increasing need for affordable medical care around the world, and this is a potential, inexpensive treatment with the promise of saving lives.

Source : Hightimes

Why Cannabis Compounds Could Eventually Replace Anti-Anxiety Meds

Research into the potential medical uses of cannabis compounds continues apace. Among the most recent, a study delved into why cannabis is an effective stress reducer. While not conclusive on their own, the results contribute to a longer-term possibility – that cannabis compounds may turn out to be more effective and safer in alleviating anxiety than prescription anxiety meds.

The recent study focused on marijuana’s potency in reducing the stress response in regular users. Stress was measured by tracking cortisol amounts in study participants’ saliva. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is a reliable indicator of stress; higher or lower amounts correlate closely with a person’s response to stressful situations.

The study compared the stress responses of a group of daily marijuana users to a group of non-users. The results were consistent: regular users had a “blunted” response to acute stress. In effect, their internal stress engines had been tuned down by regular exposure to marijuana.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of acute stress on salivary cortisol levels in chronic cannabis users compared to non-users,” said Carrie Cuttler, study co-author and clinical assistant professor of psychology. “While we are not at a point where we are comfortable saying whether this muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing, our work is an important first step in investigating potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis at a time when its use is spreading faster than ever before.”

The comment that this result is too preliminary to be called “a good or a bad thing” is well-taken (tuning down the stress response too much is likely to have both negatives and positives), but it does point to the potential for harnessing a modified version of this effect down the road.

These results pair well with findings from research showing that marijuana compounds have a distinct effect on levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which plays a key role in the anxiety response. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts as a brake on anxiety, counterbalancing the effects of excitatory brain chemicals like glutamate. Early research suggests that compounds in marijuana, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), enhance GABA’s effects with moderate downsides. (CBD has an impressive research profile in several areas, anxiety among them.)

Benzodiazepines, the mostly commonly used prescription anxiety meds, also affect GABA levels. The meds are effective at quickly delivering what users are seeking – an anxiety extinguishing calmness.

But that benefit comes at a cost. Tolerance to benzodiazepines, including Xanax and Klonopin, builds rapidly, requiring a user to take more and more of the meds to get the same effect. It doesn’t take long to develop a dependency that may not end. Instead of going through the well-documented hell of getting off the meds, many users choose to stay on them indefinitely. In addition, benzo side effects—fatigue, disorientation and mental fogginess, among others—are notoriously difficult to manage while trying to make it through the day. Overdose potential for benzos is also high, accounting for thousands of deaths in the U.S. every year.

While preliminary, the latest research suggests that the compounds in marijuana could eventually be harnessed to deliver anxiety relief with decreased dependency, fewer side effects and less overdose potential.

The early signs are promising, but this, like all possibilities for future medical uses of marijuana compounds, depends on the research continuing.

Source : David Di Salvo ( by Forbes )

 

There’s no known cure for arthritis, but Cannabis works wonders

Most of us know someone — an aunt, uncle or grandmother — suffering from arthritis. It is one of the most common health ailments in the world, with more than 50 million people affected in the U.S. alone.

The term “arthritis” is actually a category that includes over 100 conditions and diseases affecting joints and surrounding tissue. Symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling aching joints are common. Arthritis can seem inescapable and changes people’s quality of life. There is no known cure.

Despite anecdotal evidence about efficacy of marijuana for arthritis, physicians simply don’t know enough about it to engage their patients about it as a treatment option. In one study, 70 percent of physicians said they would not know how to discuss possible interactions with other meds or suggest dose.

That is a great shame since cannabis has a better safety profile than the NSAIDS, steroids and opiates that are often employed to reduce arthritis discomfort but come with increased risk of heart attack, stroke, weakening of bones and addiction. Even if patients were able to use cannabis as a complementary therapy, they could very potentially cut back on the use of harder, more dangerous meds.

It’s no surprise that cannabis could offer arthritis sufferers relief. After all, cannabis is known to be as much as 20 times more effective than aspirin at reducing inflammation and can be an effective sleep aid. Some research certainly supports those decisions.

An Israeli study found that 90 percent of medical marijuana patients stayed on their medicine regimen and most reported reduced pain and function. Researchers at the University of Nottingham noted that targeting cannabinoid receptors with medical marijuana products may help bring pain relief to knee joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.

The first Health Canada approved cannabis clinical trial studying arthritis began in 2016. The CAPRI Trial (Cannabinoid Profile Investigation of Vaporized Cannabis in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee) will compare the effects of different ratios of THC and CBD as well as the short term safety of vaporized cannabis. Results have not yet been published.

Similar to other ailments, a gap exists between physician knowledge base about cannabis and patient interest. Some patients and physicians will wait until there is irrefutable evidence before trying cannabis as an alternative therapy. Others will not wait for more information and seek to improve their quality of life with cannabis now

What we do know is that as more states come online with regulated medical marijuana, more patients will have an alternative to consider, and having options is good news.

Source : Daily News

Medical Marijuana and Chronic Back Pain

Chronic Back Pain is one of the most common illnesses seen by physicians. Almost everyone has back pain at some time in their adult life. Back pain occurs most commonly between the ages of 30 and 50 due to the aging process and due to a more sedentary lifestyle that begins in this age group. The pain can be neuropathic or nociceptive. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to a nerve. This kind of pain is felt as a sharp stabbing or burning. Nociceptive pain is caused by disease to the tissues outside of the nerves. It is felt as a dull ache or sense of pressure. Examples of these kinds of pain are a pinched nerve (neuropathic pain), and arthritis (nociceptive pain). It is frequent for patients to have both types of pain at once, called mixed pain.

Fifty percent of patients with back pain have experienced some type of trauma, such as a sports injury or motor vehicle accident. But the other fifty percent have no known cause of their back pain. Most patients who seek care for their back pain will undergo some type of evaluation that may include x-rays, CT scan, and/or MRI; occasionally some patients will have a myelogram (dye injected into the spinal cord area followed by x-rays) or bone scan (dye injected into the blood which will then concentrate in an abnormal area of bone). Many times no obvious cause of the pain is found.

Patients who have acute back pain will often improve or recover in six to eight weeks. Patients with acute pain occurring more than three times in one year or who experience longer episodes of back pain that interfere with daily activities (e.g., sleeping, sitting, standing, walking, bending, riding in or driving a car) are more likely to develop a chronic back condition. Sometimes these chronic back pain patients will have pain, numbness or tingling in their legs. Some patients with chronic pain do not respond to conventional therapy and have to find a way to live with their pain. Physicians have found that living with chronic pain is extremely difficult and can lead to opioid dependency (addiction), anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

The Treatment of Choice

Medical marijuana is increasingly becoming the treatment of choice for many chronic back pain patients. Conventional treatment therapies such as over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications – NSAIDS – (such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or aspirin) can be helpful but can cause side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, gastric bleeding, and ulcers. Prescription medications like other NSAIDS (like Celebrex) or opiates (like Vicodin or Norco) can be effective at treating pain but can also cause many adverse and unacceptable side effects. The addictive potential of opiates is very concerning to patients who struggle with chronic pain and need relief; it is this concern that leads patients to consider using medical marijuana, a very effective treatment for chronic back pain.

In 1975, scientists began studying THC in cancer patients and found that it was a very effective pain reliever without significant or toxic side effects. Other studies followed and the conclusion was the same: marijuana safely and effectively treats chronic pain with little to no side effects. No nausea, no stomach upset, no ulcers, no addiction – many patients jokingly only refer to an increased appetite (”munchies”) the only “bad” side effect. Marijuana side effects of elevated mood, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety are welcomed by most patients and considered beneficial to having a good quality of life when you suffer daily with chronic pain.

How can medical marijuana help your chronic back pain?

You will reduce or eliminate pain, allowing you to continue being active
You will reduce or eliminate the use of potentially addictive medications or dangerous medication side effects
You will reduce or eliminate the anxiety, depression, and insomnia associated with chronic pain
You will feel better knowing that you are using a natural treatment for the pain
You will have better quality of life
Evidence for Medical Marijuana

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued an evidence-based report on medical marijuana. It listed conditions that may be helped by cannabinoids, including neuropathic pain, acute pain, spinal cord injury, post operative pain, cancer pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea and appetite control among others.

The report says that discovery of a cannabinoid receptor in the parts of the nervous system that detect and control pain perception means that marijuana is a very promising source of pain relieving medications in the future.

The IOM found that cannabinoids are capable of giving mild to moderate pain relief comparable to codeine. In one study cited in the report, 10 milligrams of THC (marijuana’s active ingredient) yielded the same amount of pain relief as 60 milligrams of codeine. Side effects were similar with both drugs, but the THC seemed to be more sedating than the codeine. The patients taking the THC reported a greater sense of well-being and less anxiety.

The IOM also found that by combining cannabinoids with an opioid, the opioid may work better. This may decrease the dose of addictive narcotics needed to control pain.

Source: Medical Marijuana

How Cannabis Treats Asthma

Studies show that cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant actually protect your lungs, and relieve the constriction and discomfort of asthma.
It is estimated that one out of twelve people suffer from asthma, a chronic respiratory disease that typically becomes present during childhood. While many people experience minimal symptoms with treatment, asthma is still linked to over 3,000 deaths per year.

Naturally, many asthmatics choose to stay away from smoking cannabis for fear of exacerbating their symptoms. But contrary to popular belief, studies have shown cannabis has little to no long-term impact on the lungs. In fact, recent research is actually showing cannabis is helpful rather than harmful for asthma patients.
Cannabis opens rather than restricts the airways.
A study in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics showed just how cannabinoids protect the lungs. Using guinea pigs, the researchers measured the ability of cannabinoids to inhibit bronchoconstriction. The researchers in the study specifically looked at THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, CBD-A, and THC-V cannabinoids. Surprisingly, the study revealed that THC and THC-V were the only cannabinoids to inhibit constriction, with THC being the most effective. Essentially, cannabis acts a bronchodilator rather than a bronchoconstrictor.

The results from this study are astonishing considering that bronchoconstriction is one of the biggest problem plaguing asthma sufferers. During an asthma attack, the bronchioles (air passageways in the nose and mouth) become constricted. As a result, the rate of oxygen flow is severely restricted. But as this study suggests, cannabis helps to open up these airways. Several other studies have also shown that cannabis improves bronchoconstriction while resting and during an asthma attack.

Dr. Rachel Knox, co-founder of The Canna MDS and current Medical Chair of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, talked to Green Flower about the plant’s efficacy for asthma patients. She says:

“THC is actually a very potent bronchodilator and that’s exactly what we need when we’re treating asthma. When we are suffering from an asthma attack, those bronchioles are squeezing on themselves, making it very hard to breathe. Well, enter THC. It opens those bronchioles right up and we can breathe better.”

Cannabis possesses powerful anti-inflammatory effects
how-cannabis-treats-asthma-cannabinoids-crystals
These mushroom-shaped crystals are the trichomes, which contain most of the plant’s active cannabinoids.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the lungs’ airways. Essentially, this inflammation of the air passages causes a temporary narrowing of the lungs, which reduces the amount of oxygen carried throughout the body. For asthma sufferers, this makes breathing difficult, to say the least.

However, inflammation is not only present during an asthma attack but also when resting. Low-level inflammation can also be found in bronchi and bronchioles of asthma sufferers. And when an asthma attack does occur, inflammation increases further. In severe cases, inflammation can even cause total loss of breath.

Cannabis is a well-known anti-inflammatory, interacting with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, including the lungs. For example, a study in the journal Mediators of Inflammation revealed that the cannabinoid CBD contains potent immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory responses. In addition, the findings also showed that CBD reduces mucus hypersecretion – a hallmark characteristic of asthma. While the study has not yet been replicated on humans, the researchers concluded CBD could be a powerful treatment for asthma as it regulates exaggerated inflammatory responses in the body.

Cannabis reduces muscle spasticity
how-cannabis-treats-asthma-alpha-pinene
Alpha-Pinene is a terpene found in specific strains of cannabis. It is also found in the oils of many coniferous trees, like the pine tree, and is also found in rosemary essential oil.
Bronchospasm, otherwise known as bronchial spasms, are a sudden constriction of the muscles in the lungs. Causing difficulty in breathing, reactions range from mild to severe. For those with asthma, this likely comes as no surprise. Bronchospasms are a hallmark symptom of the condition.

But cannabis has shown to be incredibly effective for alleviating, and even eliminating muscle spasms. How is this possible? By relaxing the muscles in the lungs, the airways expand, allowing for an increase in airflow. According to Dr. Jessica Knox, it has to do with two components in specific cannabis strains – CBD and alpha-pinene. Knox says:

“Alpha-pinene and CBD have some muscle spasm relief effect which is crucial to hitting those bronchial muscles and helping them relax so that you can breathe better.”

A study in 2014 also indicated cannabis’ effectiveness for alleviating muscle spasms in the lungs. In fact, the researchers believe this mechanism may explain the acute bronchodilation (expansion of the bronchial air passages in the respiratory tract) produced when ingesting cannabis.

Cannabis alleviates asthma-related pain

An asthma attack may not only cause difficulty in breathing, it can also be painful.
While pain is not a primary symptom associated with asthma, over 75% of people who experience an asthma attack also experience chest pain. For those with severe forms of asthma, this pain can be uncomfortable and even debilitating.

However, it is important to note though that there are no pain receptors in the lungs. Asthma sufferers primarily experience pain because they are unable to breath properly. When normal airflow is interrupted, additional stress is placed on accessory muscles such as the sternocleidomastoid and scalene. During an asthma attack, these muscles must contract to help expand the ribcage. Because there is additional stress on these muscles, asthma sufferers often experience pain. This is primarily due to the fact that these muscles are rarely (if ever) used for normal breathing. It is essentially the same principle that applies after a tough workout for the first time. When a muscle is worked that has not been used, pain ensues.

While there have yet to be any studies that specifically address whether or not cannabis is effective at treating asthma-related pain, we do know that cannabis can reduce pressure and muscle spasticity in the lungs. This in turn allows for better airflow, causing less stress on accessory muscles. Not to mention the numerous studies indicating the powerful pain-relieving effects of cannabis.

Best method for treating asthma with cannabis?
how-cannabis-treats-asthma-vaporizing
Vaporizing is much gentler on the system and can deliver the medication without increasing irritation.
The positive impact of cannabis for asthma patients is evident. However, many asthma suffers are still hesitant to try cannabis. After all, isn’t smoking cannabis the last thing someone with asthma should do?

While studies as early as the 1970s suggest smoking cannabis widens rather than restricts the airways, thanks to modern technology, there are more treatment options than ever before.

One of those options is vaporization. Dr. Dustin Sulak, a leading medical cannabis physician, finds that vaporizing cannabis is a highly effective solution for asthma patients. Dr. Sulak says this is because a good vaporizer provides superior temperature control:

“Probably 90% of people with asthma can take a single vaporize inhalation… If they do it right, they’re going to be able to breathe deeper, expand their lungs, and relieve constriction.”

Dr. Sulak recommends a daily dosing to get a baseline level of medication in your system for better overall asthma control.

For quick onset relief, such as in the case of an asthma attack, he recommends a tincture or vaporizer. These are much gentler on the system and can deliver the medication without increasing irritation.

Above all, Dr. Sulak suggests that patients listen to their bodies. “It’s very important to realize that your body talks to you. So if you are using a vaporizer as a method to treat your asthma and it’s causing you to cough or worsening your symptoms, vaporizing may not be for you,” he adds. In those cases, Dr. Sulak recommends an edible or tincture (best administered sublingually).

Source: The Green Flower