Ever wonder why the United States is far behind in Medical Marijuana (MMJ) research? The continuing prohibition on cultivation and the stigma held by government officials for marijuana makes US research very difficult. So most studies come from countries as varied as Israel to Amsterdam.
So we are starting this article by saying this country’s “research” into medical cannabis is pitiful. The establishment will only take into account peer-reviewed articles but much foreign research does not adhere to the same standards as the US. So thousands of research reports across the globe are discounted by the American medical community. Which explains the conservative stance on MMJ.
In August 2016, Harvard Medical School researchers reviewed research reports and wrote a synopsis of their findings. The school admitted that synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be effective in treating chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, if the patient can keep the pill down. An oral spray is used in other countries for muscle spasticity, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer-related pain. It is illegal in the US.
The research also revealed that cannabidiol and its derivatives (CBD) may be treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and also for psychological disorders such as anxiety, psychosis, schizophrenia and anxiety.
The National Academies of Science and Engineering published a research report in January 2017. They examined 10,000 studies, the first time since 1999 for a comprehensive review of medical cannabis research. They concluded that MMJ is helpful to those affected by pain, muscle spasticity and nausea. They also stated that more research is needed into MMJ and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, epilepsy and anxiety.
But those are paltry conclusions compared to the vast research and possible positive conclusions, anecdotal as they may be, that has been accomplished since the very early ages.
Use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been noted as early as 2700 B.C. At this time, you have to be aware that your body, my body and everyone else’s body have natural cannabinoid receptors. CB-1 receptors are found mostly in the brain, and CB-2 receptors are found predominately in the gut. So it is our God-given potential to use cannabis as medicine. What an amazing gift!
Medical cannabis has many benefits, if the correct blend of THC and CBD is found for that particular ailment. There has been a myriad of experiences with MMJ that have credible, positive results. The following list, in no particular order, lays out benefits of medical cannabis that have been written about or noted as to the efficacy of the drug.
Dravet’s Syndrome and epilepsy. Dravet’s syndrome causes seizures and severe developmental delays. It is responsible for as many as 300 seizures a day in some sufferers. But a 2003 study confirmed that medical cannabis can help prevent seizures. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics theorized that both THC and CBD interacts with brain cells to reduce neural excitability and regulate relaxation. For the record, in 2014, the FDA approved a 99 percent CBD extract for children with epilepsy called Charlotte’s Web.
In the same year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation called the “Compassionate Medical Use Act” aka ”Charlotte’s Web”. This allows for the cultivation and use of a very specific strain of cannabis. THC is so low in this med that there are no psychoactive effects. Researchers have found that children do very well with this medication.
So Florida medical marijuana doctors can prescribe MMJ but they have to go through a process of certification. This is mostly true for all states that allow for the use of medical cannabis.
Glaucoma. This disease increases the pressure in the inner eyeball which damages the optic nerve, causing blindness. As early as the 70s, studies confirmed that MMJ reduces intraocular pressure. The drug may also slow the progression of the disease.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Multiple Sclerosis is an immune-mediated disease which is usually chronic and progressive. With this ailment, the immune system attacks the sheaths—myelin-- that protect nerve fibers. Nerve fibers are also damaged by this attack by one’s own body. The damage encompasses brain nerve cells, spinal cells and optic nerves. This damage interrupts nerve impulse transmission. MS symptoms are often noticed by sufferers between the ages of 20 to 40 years.
Symptoms include impairment of speech and muscle coordination; severe fatigue; numbness; blurred vision; trouble walking; sexual problems; depression; pain; bladder and bowel control issues and problems with memory.
In 2014, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study which seemed to confirm that MS patients who smoked MMJ for a few days found they were in less pain from muscle contractions. It is believed that THC binds to nerve and muscle receptors in the body, decreasing pain. The study also suggests that medical cannabis may control muscle spasms. I think we all know that smoking a bit of weed before sex can increase one’s drive or experience, given the right circumstances, especially for MS patients who experience less pain. A bit of good news, people – start finding your MMJ to enhance your life.
Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Both diseases are serious. Both cause vomiting; pain; nausea; diarrhea; severe weight loss and wasting. A 2010 study found that THC and CBD interacts with immune response and gut function cells. Other research has shown that both compounds affect gut function and possibly immune response because of the body’s naturally occurring CB1 and CB2 receptors, found in the gut. MMJ cannabinoids have been found to decrease the permeability of the gut, block bacteria, enhance appetite and reduce nausea.
An Israeli study demonstrated that one joint of cannabis reduced symptoms in ten of 11 patients. The researchers came to the conclusion that MMJ enhances gut functions such as bacterial development and intestinal permeability.
Diabetes. This typically life-long disease is defined by high levels of blood sugar circulating throughout the body. Diabetes affects 387 million people worldwide. Research reveals that weed smokers are slimmer, overall, than nonsmokers. Medical marijuana helps to regulate insulin production, which helps to process blood sugar and efficiently manage caloric intake, according to preliminary research.
Smokers have lower fasting insulin levels and a lower risk of insulin resistance compared to those who never used cannabis. Curious. You know, cannabis smokers were also found to eat more calories per day, 60 calories more, than nonsmokers. Smokers have been shown to have lower obesity rates and lower levels of diabetes. And obesity is a precursor to diabetes. Perhaps more American research into this matter is needed as 40 percent of the US population is presently obese.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs). TBIs often are the beginning of PTSD. There are many similarities. One cause is a severe psychological shock or brain injury. This may create constant emotional and psychological stress.
Symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety may occur. Endocannabinoids, naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body, may be deficient. So ingesting more cannabinoids could be the answer for anxiety and fear. In many areas of the country, this condition is the No. 1 reason for medical cannabis use.
According to current research, MMJ can disrupt sleep cycles, a desirable consequence for PTSD sufferers. This trait interrupts REM sleep, dream sleep, and pre-empts nightmares. This is a thousand times better than medicating with alcohol or other drugs, a common occurrence among veterans.
One study on mice found that MMJ reduced brain bruising and helped with healing. This points to the possibility that MMJ may contain compounds that could be neuroprotective. It was also found that medical cannabis could be helpful for stroke patients as it was found that some marijuana compounds reduced the size of the affected area of the brain.
Hepatitis C. This disease is the scourge of the baby boomers. Hep C affects the liver and its functioning. Treatment can leave harsh side effects – nausea; muscle aches; fatigue; depression and loss of appetite. These side effects can last for months.
One study found that of those who used MMJ, 86 percent completed the course of treatment while just 29 percent of nonsmokers completed the treatment.
Medical cannabis also seemed to increase the efficacy of the drugs used in treatment. Fifty-four percent of Hep C patients had viral loads that were low and sustained. Just eight percent of nonsmokers had the same. You come to your own conclusions. But as per usual, more American research is needed to verify these findings.
Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s disease is progressively neurodegenerative which means that it slowly causes brain cell death. In response, the brain shrinks and has fewer nerve cells and brain connections.
The cause of the disease is that abnormal clumps of protein, plaques, change and destroy brain cells, disrupting cell-to-cell communication. There is also the cell’s transport system that nourishes said cell, which gets “tangled”. That tangling of essential cell components disrupts cell formation.
A 2006 study found that MMJ possibly slows the progression of brain plaque development. This research found that medical marijuana seems to block the enzymes that help to create the plaques.
Chronic Pain. Did you know that 30 percent of the American population suffers from chronic pain? And the numbers go as high as 40 percent for older people.
Oregon Health and Science University found cannabis could treat or reduce chronic pain without addiction such as that associated with opioid pain killers. There are natural cannabinoid receptors in the body known as CB2 receptors. These endocannabinoid receptors bind with MMJ cannabinoids to reduce chronic pain. Also, states with medical cannabis on the books have lower incidences of overdoses and addiction to opioids.
Researchers also noticed that people who are addicted to other drugs can transition over to MMJ, from alcohol to tobacco and hard drugs, relatively easy. Nice news for the addiction community.
Cancer and chemotherapy. Cancer kills more than half a million Americans every year. With the disease comes debilitating treatment with side effects that include nausea; vomiting; loss of appetite and gut pain. Medical marijuana can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms for some patients. This is the main reason cited by many cancer patients for using MMJ.
One compound ot medical marijuana, CBD, may help stop the spread of cancer cells. A 2007 study out of California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found that CBDs turn off the gene responsible for replicating cancer cells, thus preventing the spread of the cancer.
The preceding revealed a few examples of the possibilities for the medical community. As more interest in MMJ comes to the forefront, more research dollars and time will be spent on exploring its myriad properties for medical use. When the prohibition of cannabis has been rescinded, MMJ research will bloom with discoveries that will blow your mind.