Educating U.S Hispanics on the health and wellness of cannabis

HIV/AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a group of diseases resulting from disruption to the immune system. AIDS is described as the advanced stage and only develops as a result of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Categorized as a wasting syndrome, symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, severe neuropathy and fatigue.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 million people in the U.S. are infected with the disease. Since its discovery in 1981, AIDS has taken the lives of more than 36 million people around the world. Currently, it is estimated that 35 million people around the world have HIV. For this reason, the disease is considered a pandemic.

The most common treatment regimens prescribed to AIDS patients are made up of powerful pharmaceuticals that come with many debilitating side effects of their own, including extreme nausea, cachexia, and depression. In 2007, the journal AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV reported that up to 60 percent of AIDS patients use medical cannabis without a physician’s recommendation because of how beneficial it is in the treatment of symptoms.

How Can Cannabis Help?

 

Medical cannabis allows those suffering from HIV and AIDS to consume calories, improving their overall quality of life because it effectively stimulates the appetite. The use of even small doses of medical cannabis has also shown to relieve nausea and pain that accompanies the disease itself and is exacerbated by the strong pharmaceuticals prescribed to treat it. With these findings regarding symptom relief, it is no surprise that so many people who suffer from HIV and AIDS supplement with medical cannabis therapies.

While clinical cannabis research may still be lacking, there is no shortage of studies supporting cannabis’ efficacy in eliminating nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss. Cachexia, also known as “wasting syndrome” related to significant unintentional weight loss, is a common condition that is associated with HIV/AIDS patients. Furthermore, recent studies are showing that cannabis may hold promise as an inhibitor of HIV/AIDS progression – slowing the replication of HIV.

In addition to the physical relief that cannabis can offer HIV/AIDS patients, the therapeutic impact on the mental wellbeing of patients dealing with all of the emotional stress associated with a condition such as this cannot be overlooked. The possible euphoria and joy produced by certain cannabinoids can also play a significant role in the general health of any patient – enjoyment can provide tremendous healing benefits for patients suffering from conditions that can cause depression.

What Does The Research Say?

A 1999 report commissioned by the White House and Institute of Medicine  (part of the National Academy of Sciences) found that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety can all be treated with cannabis.  The study concluded, “[f]or patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.”

In 2013, a study conducted at Temple University School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine revealed that a synthetic form of THC, the most prevalent psychoactive cannabinoid found in medical cannabis, was able to essentially re-wire cells harboring HIV.

Another study published in the AIDS Researcher and Human Retroviruses in 2014 concluded that HIV and AIDS patients who regularly consumed THC showed significant improvement in health. One clinical study, conducted by Dr. Patricia Molina over the course of 17 months, revealed that THC can actually strengthen the immune system of monkeys that have been infected with the primate equivalent of AIDS.

According to a study conducted at San Francisco General Hospital by the University of California’s Pain Clinical Research Center in 2007, medical cannabis can reduce HIV-associated neuropathy by up to 34 percent. In the study, patients who consumed medical cannabis at least three times per day experienced the most significant symptom relief

LINKS TO RESEARCH

  • Cannabis Use in HIV for Pain and Other Medical Symptoms.
    READ STUDY →
  • Cannabidiol inhibits growth and induces programmed cell death in kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-infected endothelium.
    READ STUDY →
  • Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy.
    READ STUDY →
  • Smoked Medicinal Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain in HIV: A Randomized, Crossover Clinical Trial.
    READ STUDY →

IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or spastic colon, ranks as the most common gastrointestinal disorder, affecting 35 million Americans. As a chronic disorder affecting the colon, IBS is diagnosed based on the symptoms experienced by the patient. IBS is classified as a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning that it is apparently of spontaneous origin because the biological mechanism which leads to the diseased state is unknown. First documented in the Rocky Mountain Medical Journal in 1950, research recognizes that painful cramping, nausea, chronic diarrhea or constipation. IBS commonly leads to stomach pain, gassiness, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or both.

How Can Cannabis Help?

Although the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, it is known that, like many physiological processes, the gastrointestinal tract is controlled by the body’s endocannabinoid system. Experts report that the colon muscle of an IBS sufferer is overly sensitive, causing it to spasm after even the mildest stimulation because of a disruption in the communication pathway between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. Cannabis provides significant medical efficacy in the treatment of IBS because it is made up of hundreds of organic chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, which are able to bind to the same receptors in the brain as the body’s own gastrointestinal tract regulating endocannabinoids. Medical cannabis is able to fill in the missing pieces of the homeostasis puzzle when the body fails to regulate its own endocannabinoid production.

The most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid known for producing the feeling of being high, THC, is also known for being an effective reliever of pain and nausea, which are two of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. CBD, the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid works is a powerful anti-spasmodic that also produces calming effects in patients. Experts report that, in the treatment of IBS and many other conditions, the medical efficacy of each individual cannabinoid found in medical cannabis increases dramatically when they work together in a process known as the entourage effect. For example, CBC works synergistically with THC to increase the amount of the gastrointestinal regulating endocannabinoid, anandamide, that is in the body at any given time. More anandamide in the system equates to reduced pain because it prevents excessive spasms in the gut wall.

What Does The Research Say?

The effectiveness of cannabis and its derivatives for treating IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders has been known for centuries.  Many of those suffering from IBS report that symptoms of the condition, like abdominal pain, nausea, cramping and irregularity of bowel movements are more manageable or even alleviated with the use of medical cannabis. The experiences reported by IBS patients shows that medical cannabis is ideal for broad-spectrum relief, and is often an effective treatment even when the condition has been non-responsive to more commonly prescribed treatment options.

Medical research demonstrates that this interaction between medical cannabis and the colon can result in improved motility, calmed spasms, and pain relief. Recent research has shown that endogenous cannabinoids play crucial neuromodulatory roles in controlling the operation of the gastrointestinal system, and can control gastrointestinal motility and inflammation.  A study conducted in Italy in 2003 found that THC, the most common cannabinoid known for its strong psychoactive properties, reduced intestinal motility, thereby alleviating colonic spasms and abdominal pain.

LINKS TO RESEARCH

  • Cannabinoids for gastrointestinal diseases: potential therapeutic applications.
    READ STUDY →
  • Selective inhibition of FAAH produces antidiarrheal and antinociceptive effects mediated by endocannabinoids and cannabinoids‐like fatty acid amides.
    READ STUDY →
  • Acute activation of cannabinoid receptors by anandamide reduces gastrointestinal motility and improves postprandial glycemia in mice.
    READ STUDY →
  • Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD): can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions?
    READ STUDY →

Migraines

Migraines are a neurological disorder characterized by a collection of symptoms that cause one of the most debilitating conditions suffered by humans. Less oxygen reaches the brain as a result of the restricted blood flow and higher levels of serotonin are produced. Platelets, the blood cells that aid in clotting, become stuck in the blood pathways as vessels outside the brain are contracted. There are two types of migraines: Classic and Common.

Migraines can occur in various combinations and include:

  • moderate to severe pain
  • sensitivity to light
  • noise or odors
  • blurred vision
  • nausea or vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines (aura)

How Can Cannabis Help?

In the 21st century, migraines are most commonly treated by pharmaceuticals, but doctors have been using medical cannabis to treat them for thousands of years.  While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, researchers have discovered from which areas of the brain this pain arises, which molecular changes signal the onset, and how cannabinoids affect these changes. The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite and pain — the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids.

Medical cannabis provides effective relief from migraines because it is made up of cannabinoids that are designed to bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors in the human brain responsible for pain, memory and appetite. Because the medical cannabinoids react, sometimes seamlessly, with the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, they are able to relieve symptoms caused by a variety of different ailments, including migraines.

One superiority of cannabis over traditional medication for migraines relates to the method of ingestion – smoking or vaporizing cannabis can provide the migraine sufferer with nearly immediate relief from their symptoms.  Traditional medicine that is ingested and absorbed through the digestion process will take a longer time to provide relief.  In addition, traditional medicine that is ingested can be very difficult for someone to use that is suffering from nausea or vomiting.

What Does The Research Say?

Leading medical cannabis researchers in Italy published a study in 2007 suggesting that migraines occur as a result of an underproduction of endocannabinoids in the human brain and body. This research found that those who suffer from migraines also possess significantly lower levels of the endocannabinoid, anandamide, which binds to the same transmitters that react to THC.

THC has also been found to lower blood pressure, which can help to alleviate the blood floor restriction problems that lead to the onset of a migraine headache, and CBD produces a calming effect in patients suffering from the type of severe pain experienced during a migraine.

In 2013, researchers in California revealed that triptans, the most commonly prescribed class of pharmaceuticals in the treatment of migraines, mimic the effects of THC in areas of the brain responsible for pain regulation.  Many of those who suffer from migraine headaches report that smoking or vaping medical cannabis is more effective at treating the condition than their prescribed triptans.

LINKS TO RESEARCH

 

  • Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD): can this concept explain therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions?
    READ STUDY →
  • Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?
    READ STUDY →
  • Comprehensive Review of Medicinal Marijuana, Cannabinoids, and Therapeutic Implications in Medicine and Headache: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been.
    READ STUDY →
  • The endocannabinoid system: physiology and pharmacology.
    READ STUDY →

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory nerve disease affecting the central nervous system. The immune system of an MS patient attacks and deteriorates the protective sheath covering the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. When the nerves are no longer protected, the cells become inflamed and damaged. Nerve signals and communications are slowed, as a result, and this can even eliminate the nerves’ ability to communicate completely.

A couple of unique data trends exist for MS. Women are statistically more likely to develop MS than men. And veterans appear to be significantly more likely to develop MS than the general population. Researchers note that the increasing incidence of MS among military personnel have manifested over the past two to three generations, speculating that “there may be unique environmental exposures within the military” that increase the risk of MS.

MS is the most common debilitating neurological disease of young people, typically appearing between the ages of 20 and 40. Depending upon the severity of damage and which nerves are affected, symptoms of multiple sclerosis may vary.

Common symptoms of MS include:

  • severe pain and tingling in different parts of the body
  • tremors
  • fatigue
  • bladder incontinence
  • can lead to depression

How Can Cannabis Help?

The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite and pain.  In much the same manner that the human body’s endocrine system receptors respond to opiates – the root compounds of many pain relieving medications like morphine, codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin) – the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids.

Research shows cannabis to be an effective therapy for MS patients because it not only treats many of the symptoms, but studies show that multiple cannabinoids slow the neurodegenerative processes that lead to disability.  There is a reason that MS is on the list of qualifying, debilitating medical conditions in most of the US that have a medical marijuana program.  Several of the cannabinoids found in cannabis have been shown to directly help with muscle spasms, tremors, fatigue and depression.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive cannabinoid known to produce the euphoric feeling of being “high.” It also demonstrates impressive medical efficacy in the treatment of MS. THC is a strong pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. It also relieves nausea, stimulates the appetite, and can help battle depression. Most impressively, it is one of cannabinoids which act as a neuroprotectant.

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and provide clear-headed and stress-relieving calming effects. Most importantly, CBD reduces the severity and frequency of MS spasms, as does tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Cannabinol (CBN) is a strong sedative cannabinoid that acts as a sleep aid without the negative side effects associated with pharmaceutical counterparts.

What Does The Research Say?

While anecdotal research has always provided support for the use of cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of MS, recent controlled studies and advances in the understanding of the biology of cannabis and the bodies cannabinoid receptors have found that cannabis can help manage MS symptoms like pain, spasms, spasticity and incontinence.

Numerous case studies, surveys and double-blind studies have reported improvement in patients treated with cannabinoids for the stated symptoms.  A report issued by the House of Lords in 1998 reported, “We have seen enough evidence to convince us that a doctor might legitimately want to prescribe cannabis to relieve…the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and that the criminal law ought not to stand in the way.”  The British Medical Association has approved and requested that the synthetic cannabinoids known as Nabilone and Dronabinol be licensed for use in the treatment of MS.

The greatest support for the medicinal benefits of cannabis for MS can be seen by the fact that GW Pharmaceuticals has received authority to sell a cannabinoid medicine for the treatment of spasticity due to MS in 27 countries around the world including the UK, Spain, Italy, Canada and Germany (currently available in 15 countries and approved in an additional 12).  GW Pharmaceuticals has completed all required clinical studies/trials in these countries, verifying the efficacy of cannabinoids to treat MS symptoms, in order to obtain such approvals. The company is currently participating in studies/trials to have Sativex approved for the treatment of pain associated with cancer.

LINKS TO RESEARCH

  • Randomized, controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in central pain in multiple sclerosis.
    READ STUDY →
  • Delta-9-THC in the treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
    READ STUDY →
  • Efficacy, safety and tolerability of an orally administered cannabis extract in the treatment of spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.
    READ STUDY →
  • Medical Marijuana in Certain Neurological Disorders.
    READ STUDY →

Neuropathy

Neuropathy, occurs as a result of damage, dysfunction or injury to nerves. The two commonly diagnosed types of neuropathy — peripheral and diabetic — produce similar symptoms, but whereas peripheral is usually caused by injury, the diabetic counterpart is brought on by damage from high blood sugar. As a result of neuropathy, nerves essentially become confused and send false pain signals to the brain that are often described by patients as a feeling of tingling and numbness, shooting and burning, or prickly pins and needles. Neuropathy patients, suffering from a condition that is often described as chronic, have limited treatment options with the most common being pharmaceutical painkillers.

Cannabis has been used to treat many different medical conditions —including several different types of pain — for centuries, and recent research and anecdotal evidence has brought it back to the forefront of neuropathic pain treatments.

How Can Cannabis Help?

Cannabinoids bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body and brain that are responsible for the regulation of several physiological body systems, including pain, mood, memory, and appetite. While pharmaceuticals are also designed to react with the same receptors, they rarely bind as naturally as the cannabinoids in medical cannabis. This is why medical cannabis is such an effective treatment option for conditions that may otherwise be difficult to treat, like neuropathy. Where pharmaceutical therapies may not provide enough symptom relief to outweigh the negative side effects and potentials for addiction, cannabis can often react with the body’s receptors more efficiently and without risk of life-threatening addiction.

Multiple research studies reveal that cannabis is often a preferred method of symptom relief for neuropathy patients because it is effective, even to those who have not responded to pharmaceutical therapies, and the psychoactive side effects are not as debilitating as those presented by opiates. Several medical cannabinoids are known to treat individual symptoms like pain, anxiety, inflammation, sleep deprivation, and mood disorders. While those single cannabinoid therapies are extremely successful, as highlighted by the pure CBD oils that are significantly reducing the severity and duration of many children suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, when multiple cannabinoids work together in a process called the entourage effect, the medical efficacy can increase dramatically.

The success of the entourage effect is demonstrated in the use of medical cannabis to treat neuropathic pain. THC, the most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid, has proven to be an extremely effective analgesic (pain reliever) and is also helpful in the treatment of the depression that can often accompany chronic pain conditions like neuropathy. Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive reliever of inflammation and pain. Research has linked the inflammation-reducing characteristics of CBD, and its ability to eliminate excessive immune-related oxidative stress in order to allow the body to better heal itself, to significant symptom reduction in neuropathy patients. Another medical cannabinoid, CBC, displays sedative properties that are known to help those suffering from pain get some much-coveted rest.

What Does The Research Say?

As with other conditions, there is a countless amount of anecdotal research that has proven the pain relieving efficacy of cannabis – going back to the beginning of documented cannabis use over 5,000 years ago, pain relief has been a consistent physiological effect seen from cannabis use.  The experience of the leading medical experts has revealed that medical cannabis can be used to safely and effectively treat a wide variety of medical conditions, including pain, and it is often a successful therapy option when nothing else works. Where neuropathic pain can be resistant to pharmaceutical therapies, even very low doses of medical cannabis have shown to effectively reduce symptoms, and experts report that the benefits of medical cannabis far outweigh the risks.

A study released in 2011 from the scientific journal for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that the combination of cannabis with opiates may have a synergistic effect.  When patients received regular doses of cannabis along with their twice-daily doses of prescribed opioids, on average participants reported a 27 percent greater decrease in pain.

An article published in the AMA Journal of Ethics analyzed several of the studies available.  The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California complete five placebo-controlled phase II clinical trials with cannabis.  Another study reported from Canada studied patients with HIV neuropathy and other neuropathic conditions, and one study focused on a human model of neuropathic pain.  Overall, the efficacy of cannabis was comparable to that of traditional medications prescribed for neuropathic pain.  The article concluded that there is increasing evidence that cannabis may represent a useful alternative or adjunct in the management of painful peripheral neuropathy.

Is Cannabis As Safe As Traditional Prescription Medicine?

One of the most important aspects of using medical cannabis in lieu of opiates for the treatment of pain is directly tied to the comparable risks for lethal overdose – as you’ll see below, the statistics and facts are compelling.   

Opiates:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 1999 the amount of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled.
  • Every day in the U.S. 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose.
  • Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2013 – among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.
  • Of the 22,767 deaths related to prescription drug overdose, approximately 16,235 involved prescription opioid painkillers (71.3%).
  • In 2007, the aggregate cost of prescription opioid abuse (lost productivity, healthcare costs and criminal justice cost) totaled $55.7 billion.

Cannabis:

In 1988, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrative law Judge Francis L. Young, Docket No. 86-22 found the following facts to be uncontroverted:

  • There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.
  • Despite a long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible medical reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a single death.
  • Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50.  This rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity.
  • The LD-50 rating for aspirin is 1:20.  In layman’s terms this means that if the recommended dosage of aspirin is two pills, in order to induce death a person would need to consume 40 pills (20xs the recommended dosage).  For valium it’s 1:10 and for some cancer medications it can be as low as 1:1.5.
  • In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume.

    LINKS TO RESEARCH

    Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress.
    READ STUDY →

    Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?
    READ STUDY →

    Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action.
    READ STUDY →

    PTSD

    Post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety condition affecting more than 7 million people in the United States. It was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980 after a large number of Vietnam War veterans returned to the United States with debilitating symptoms of this severe and often untreatable condition. While war veterans are likely candidates to develop PTSD, any person who experiences a highly stressful, traumatic, life-threatening or otherwise catastrophic event may develop this psychologically crippling condition. Up to 20 percent of military men and women returning from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan are estimated to be suffering from PTSD.

    Symptoms of PTSD are characterized in three classes:  re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyper arousal (also described as flashbacks, social isolation, and insomnia).  Another incredibly tragic trait often associated with PTSD sufferers is suicidal thoughts.  Sadly, a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014 stated that an average of 22 American veterans are taking their own lives every day after returning home from service.  The report states that nearly all of these veterans suffer from PTSD or have traumatic brain injuries.

      How Can Cannabis Help?

      The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite and pain.  In much the same manner that the human body’s endocrine system receptors respond to opiates – the root compounds of many pain relieving medications like morphine, codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin) – the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids.

      Anxiety is regulated by the endocannabinoid receptors that line the human brain, and while it is natural for a person to experience symptoms of anxiety, the severity of symptoms should dissolve over time. When the body does not produce enough anandamide, the endocannabinoid responsible for controlling anxiety, PTSD is more likely to develop. A patient may be diagnosed as suffering from PTSD if anxiety symptoms such as flashbacks, depression, social withdrawal, insomnia or night terrors, interfere with daily life or last longer than five weeks. Cannabinoids bind to the same regulatory receptors in the brain as the anxiety regulator, anandamide.  It is believed that people diagnosed with PTSD exhibit lower natural levels of anandamide when compared to non-PTSD sufferers.  An expert that has studied PTSD as part of Project CBD states that “anandamide triggers the same (endocannabinoid) receptors that are activated by THC and other components of the marijuana plant.”  A clear connection as to why medical cannabis can be effective in alleviating the symptoms of PTSD.

      Although the regular use of medical cannabis may not cure PTSD, researchers in New Mexico, the first state to authorize the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of PTSD, revealed in a 2014 study that PTSD symptoms can be reduced by up to 75 percent with the use of cannabis.  A 2014 study conducted in Israel at the University of Haifa and published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that THC and CBD help to block or inhibit the painful memory of the traumatic event – effectively, these cannabinoids work to allow the subject to naturally and beneficially suppress the memories of traumatic or frightening events.  “The findings of our study suggest that the connectivity within the brain’s fear circuit changes following trauma, and the administration of cannabinoids prevents this change from happening.”

      Some Real Stories

      Despite the lack of clinical research and human trials, anecdotal information is abundant.  Many PTSD sufferers report that cannabis helps keep their symptoms at bay better than any pharmaceutical counterpart. Amy Rising, the veteran of the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan known for bravely sharing her story with the Washington Post in November of 2014 in an effort to raise awareness for the need for medical cannabis treatment options for veterans suffering from PTSD, pointed out that the only thing that kept her symptoms under control while allowing her to remain in control was the regular use of medical cannabis.

      Trauma neurosurgeon and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, focused on the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of PTSD in the “Weed 3 The Marijuana Revolution” special that aired on April 20, 2015. In the special, Dr. Gupta along with famed PTSD treatment specialist Dr. Sue Sisley analyze the anecdotal evidence and scientific research available and support the use of cannabis by PTSD sufferers, especially when compared to the more commonly prescribed pharmaceutical medications.

      A PTSD patient who is a health care professional and had significant reservations about using cannabis stated, “I wanted to feel better, to be myself again, and to be the person I was before the PTSD.  I smoked the pot.  Immediately I felt relaxed and calm.  I smiled and laughed.  I finally felt at peace for the first time in two years.  I slept my first night in three years without the sleep medication.”

      LINKS TO RESEARCH

      • Cannabis species and cannabinoid concentration preference among sleep-disturbed medicinal cannabis users.
        READ STUDY →
      • Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol alone and combined with cannabidiol mitigate fear memory through reconsolidation disruption.
        READ STUDY →
      • Elevated brain cannabinoid CB1 receptor availability in post-traumatic stress disorder: a positron emission tomography study.
        READ STUDY →
      • Cannabis use among military veterans after residential treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder.
        READ STUDY →

      Rheumatoid Arthritis

      More than 31 million Americans suffer from arthritis. There are two main types of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

      Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused by a malfunction of the immune system which causes inflammation and pain in the body’s moveable joints. The immune system of RA sufferers sends cells, which would otherwise be used to attack a virus or bacteria, to the joints and surrounding tissues. This causes damaging inflammation that wears down cartilage so much that, over-time, bones can end up rubbing directly against one another to the point of erosion. In most cases, rheumatoid arthritis attacks symmetrically, meaning the same joints will be affected on both sides of the body. RA can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition that presents challenges for pain management.

      As with many autoimmune disorders, the one true cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown. Treatment regimens focus on relieving inflammation to prevent further damage and managing symptoms such as pain, inflammation, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Research shows that cannabinoid therapy is a viable treatment option for RA patients because it can treat symptoms as well as help to slow progression of the condition.

      How Can Cannabis Help?

      During the 19th century, cannabis tinctures were common on pharmacy shelves throughout North America and administered as a painkiller – often for arthritis. There are a couple of cannabinoids found in cannabis that have especially profound efficacy for those with arthritis: CBD and THC. Not only do these cannabinoids provide an analgesic effect but they have also been shown to have powerful immune-modulation and anti-inflammatory properties.

      The psychoactive cannabinoid is known for producing the feeling of being “high,” tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is also a very effective analgesic (pain reliever). It also acts to reduce inflammation, stimulate the appetite and can even help to maintain a positive mental state for patients in severe pain.

      Like THC, cannabidiol (CBD) reduces pain and inflammation, but unlike THC, it is not psychoactive so patients are able to remain clear-headed. CBD also produces a calming, comforting effect in patients that is known to relieve the stress and anxiety associated with severe pain.

      Cannabinol (CBN) is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that acts as a sedative, so it can help to promote restful sleep where RA pain may not normally allow. CBN also provides anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. Cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabidiol-acid (CBDA) also work to relieve inflammation.

      What Does The Research Say?

      Modern research on CBD has found that it suppresses the immune response in mice and rats that is responsible for a disease resembling arthritis, protecting them from severe damage to their joints and significantly improving their condition.  Cannabis has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to improve mobility and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation.  A study from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem found that when CBD is metabolized, one result is the creation of a compound with potent anti-inflammatory action comparable to pharmaceutical drugs but without the common side effects associated with such traditional medications.

      A study released in 2011 from the scientific journal for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that the combination of cannabis with opiates may have a synergistic effect.  When patients received regular doses of cannabis along with their twice-daily doses of prescribed opioids, on average participants reported a 27 percent greater decrease in pain.

      An article published in the AMA Journal of Ethics analyzed several of the studies available.  The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California complete five placebo-controlled phase II clinical trials with cannabis.  Another study reported from Canada studied patients with HIV neuropathy and other neuropathic conditions, and one study focused on a human model of neuropathic pain.  Overall, the efficacy of cannabis was comparable to that of traditional medications prescribed for neuropathic pain.  The article concluded that there is increasing evidence that cannabis may represent a useful alternative or adjunct in the management of painful peripheral neuropathy.

      LINKS TO RESEARCH

      • Cannabinoids: novel therapies for arthritis?
        READ STUDY →
      • Cannabinoids and the immune system: potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases?
        READ STUDY →
      • Expression of cannabinoid receptor 2 and its inhibitory effects on synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis.
        READ STUDY →
      • Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress.
        READ STUDY →

      Seizures

      Seizures occur as a result of excessive and abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Nerve cells fire electrical pulses up to four times the normal rate during a seizure. Seizures may result in a loss of consciousness, muscle spasms and convulsions, or they may go relatively unnoticed. Seizures can be reoccurring or isolated. Seizures usually come on suddenly and vary in duration and severity. Multiple seizures are often diagnosed as a disorder such as epilepsy.

      Seizures are classified into two general categories and many subtypes based on the pattern of the attack. Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain from the start of the attack—common subtypes being grand mal and petit mal. The second major seizure type is a partial, or focal, seizure and these being in a specific area of the brain and may be contained there or they may spread.

      Seizures can impact people of all races, sexes, and age, however, they are most common in young children and older adults. Epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological condition – affecting approximately 65 million people worldwide. While there are medications that can be used to help control seizures, there is no cure for the cause of the seizures, so a long-term pharmaceutical protocol is usually the course of action. Common medications include Diazepam, Ativan and Klonopin. However, in recent years, especially with regard to certain forms of epilepsy that affect mostly children, cannabis has shown some incredible results.

      How can Cannabis help?

      The number of clinical studies that have been conducted on the use of cannabis oil in the treatment of different forms of epilepsy and other seizure disorders falls far short of the public’s demand and need for such research. That said, more anecdotal evidence and observational studies have become available in recent years than ever before.

      Cannabinoid therapies are often successful in treating conditions that are otherwise resistant to pharmaceutical treatments because they react with the endocannabinoid receptors that line the human brain and body. Some cannabinoids fit receptors as perfectly as a key fits a lock.

      Cannabidiol (CBD), has been shown to be the most effective cannabinoid for seizure relief and reduction because it works as an anticonvulsant. CBD also enhances the efficacy of several pharmaceutical medications prescribed for the treatment of seizures. Although it does not work for every person, many patients experience symptom relief almost immediately after using cannabidiol. CBD is non-psychoactive, so it is currently the preferred cannabinoid for children or any person who prefers to avoid the feeling of being “high” produced by the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.

      CBDV has been shown to have similar results to CBD in minimizing the severity and duration of seizures. It also helps to reduce symptoms that result from certain pharmaceuticals, like nausea and vomiting. THCV adds to the seizure relieving efficacy of cannabis by working as an anticonvulsant.

      LINKS TO RESEARCH

      • Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?
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      • Cannabidiol–antiepileptic drug comparisons and interactions in experimentally induced seizures in rats.
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      • Perceived efficacy of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extracts for treatment of pediatric epilepsy: A potential role for infantile spasms and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
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      • Parental reporting of response to oral cannabis extracts for treatment of refractory epilepsy.
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      • Cannabidivarin (CBDV) suppresses pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced increases in epilepsy-related gene expression.
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      • Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy.
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