what is medical cannabis?
Medical cannabis is a plant-based medicine from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species with three major active compounds: THC, CBD, and CBN.
This medication can be used for numerous ailments such as:
epilepsy (seizure disorders)
pain relieve from cancer and other terminal conditions
The health benefits of medical cannabis include relief from many types of pains and muscle spasms. It can help with nausea associated with chemotherapy and anorexia as well. There are studies that show the benefits are seen in immune function, neuroplasticity, emotional and mood regulation, vascular health and digestive function.
Unfortunately, the research on medical cannabis is limited due to the government restrictions on this medical product. But as the public outcry increases for state and federal legalization of cannabis for medical use, the number of studies will certainly increase.
What is it at a scientific level?
The science behind it is limited but studies of the endocannabinoid system suggest that benefits may include neuroprotection in MS, epilepsy, and other movement disorders. Which therefore can benefit in a number of mood and anxiety disorders.
Yet there are side effects when using cannabis. The minimum amount (i.e. in very recommended low dosages) when used – can cause dry mouth, feeling happy, and fatigue. When a patient is recommended a higher dosage, the side effects of the THC is sometimes dizziness, paranoia, feeling happier, and other psychoactive effects.
What are the uses for medical cannabis?
Medical uses of cannabis include both studied and approved uses and off-label uses. Many researchers have noted that studies and survey have found, the most common reasons people use medical cannabis are for:
inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.
More research has been conducted on the compound CBD. Medical CBD is anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, neuroprotective, and anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and anti-emetic. The CBD compound in medical marijuana appears to be neuroprotective in Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease, fetal hypoxia, and other neurodegenerative conditions and movement disorders.
Medical THC vs. CBD – What is the difference ?
Medical cannabis is a plant-based medicine from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species with three major active compounds: THC and CBD among a few others such as CBN for example.
Did you know that THC or tetrahydrocannabinolis the psychoactive compound in marijuana? It is true. THC was banned in the United States in the early 1900s because of this reason. It is responsible for the “high” individuals feel when they ingest, inhale, or consume in some manner. Furthermore, there are two man-made drugs called dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet) that are synthetic forms of THC. Believe or not, these two drugs are FDA-approved to prevent nausea and vomiting in people receiving chemotherapy. CBD or cannabidiol is another compound from the cannabis plant. CBD is not psychoactive. CBD is thought to be responsible for the majority of the medical benefits. This is based on the what is extracted from the Cannabis plant.
Can CBD help with epilepsy?
Yes it looks like it can. Research shows that epidiolex is a CBD oil extract that is undergoing clinical trials for epilepsy treatments. So far it has had positive results but there is plenty more research that needs to be done. Okay so let’s look at this on the world stage. Nabiximols or called Sativex by some is a specific plant extract with an equal ratio of THC:CBD. It has been approved as a drug in the United Kingdom as well as elsewhere in Europe. Europeans use this drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, spasticity, neuropathic pain, overactive bladder, and numerous other medical conditions.
Medical cannabis products are available with a huge range of THC and CBD concentrations. Most experts agree with the opinion that 10mg of THC should be considered “one serving”. A patient interested in using medical cannabis CBD or THC should inhale, ingest, or consume no more until they know their individual response.
What are the health benefits of medical cannabis?
There are over 60 peer-reviewed research studies examining the benefits of medical marijuana. Sixty-eight percent of these studies found benefit while 8% found no benefit. Twenty-three percent of the studies were inconclusive or neutral. Most research has been conducted on the compound CBD. The benefits of medical marijuana can be attributed to binding to the endocannabinoid system. This has many effects including modulating the immune system, promoting neuroplasticity, emotional and cognitive modulation including learning and motivation, appetite, vascular function, and digestive function. Some other benefits to think about when thinking getting medical cannabis for your pain.
Medical marijuana is a controversial topic. In the ceaseless battle of clashing opinions among journalists, police departments, attorneys, medical doctors, social activists, and legislators, it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed by media sensationalism and hyperbole. Unfortunately, this means the people who stand to benefit most from the use of medical cannabis (i.e. marijuana) — individuals who suffer from serious health conditions — are never given the chance to make informed decisions based on fact and evidence.
In truth, numerous studies published in renowned, peer-reviewed medical journals such as Neurology, Rheumatology, Annals of Internal Medicine, the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, and the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology have all documented significant health benefits associated with the use of medicinal Cannabis across a wide range of ages, races, genders, and health conditions. Do you experience any of the following medical conditions:
Crohn’s Disease/IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Parkinson’s Disease (including Early-Onset)
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
If you’re at least 18 years old and your quality of life is being negatively impacted by one of the above health issues, medical Cannabis may be able to help you simply and safely manage your symptoms.
Are there any side effects of medical cannabis?
Medical cannabis does have side effects are minimal when used at low doses and include: dry mouth, dizziness, an increase appetite, decreased motivation, low level anxiety, and fatigue. At higher recommended doses, also have side effects too. These more extreme side effects from medical cannabis can sometimes include: dizziness, paranoia, and psychoactive effects including mood changes and hallucinations.
So let’s dig into the side effects and look at them in more detail. First, any good medical practitioner will only recommend cannabis for individuals with chronic pain, a terminal condition, and/or a medical condition that is been tested with results that are positive from numerous scientific independent studies. As time passes, more studies will be done and more potential medical conditions will be tested for the effects when dealing with pain from the condition or the medical condition entirely.
Many doctors are concerned with who and how you get your medical cannabis. When poorly designed manufacturing labs are used more concerns can be acknowledged due to poor government inspections. The safety of the end consumer is critical, so ask your local Medical Cannabis Doctor about where is a good place to purchase your medical cannabis. Did you know that a JAMA study found lower rates of opioid overdose deaths in states with legal medical marijuana.
Unfortunately, at this time, there too few scientific studies to determine the short or longer term effects of different strains of cannabis. Some concerned citizens seem to have concerns about the safety of driving under the influence of medical cannabis. It is always best to follow the directions from your doctor and your pharmacist as you would for any medication.
Recently a JAMA study found lower rates of opioid overdose deaths in states with legal medical cannabis. JAMA, published continuously since 1883, is an international peer-reviewed general medical journal. JAMA is a member of the JAMA Network, a consortium of peer-reviewed, general medical and specialty publications. As more studies, come about, new blog articles will be written to further communicate any and all cannabis side effects.
What are the most common side effects of medical cannabis?
Most medical marijuana patients can experience the drug’s ability to induce a sense of euphoria, but that doesn’t come without side effects. Indeed, research shows that using marijuana can cause a variety of short and long-term effects. While almost everyone is familiar with the sudden desire for junk food caused by smoking or ingesting the medicine — commonly referred to as the ‘munchies’ — many of the drug’s other effects are lesser known. Let’s take a look at the most common side effects of using medical cannabis:
Medical Cannabis & Dry Mouth
Many patients that need to take medical marijuana are familiar with the side effect referred to as ‘cottonmouth’ or ‘dry mouth’. Which is experiencing an uncomfortable feeling from lack of saliva production in a patients mouth. A survey published in the journal of Addiction Research & Theory in 2003 found that 79% of patients experience dry mouth. (Addiction Research and Theory is a cross-disciplinary journal examining the effects of context on the use and misuse of substances, and on the nature of intoxications of all kinds. … It publishes research which is primarily psychological and social in origin, though these terms are used in a very broad sense.)
But be aware that is due to individuals that taking higher doses of the medicine than an average medical cannabis patient. Please consult, your local doctor to find a strain that most fits your medical needs. Also, ask if a given strain causes dry mouth or not, there are many new cannabis strains available now versus just a fine years ago. Lastly, some doctors recommend patients may consider chewing bubblegum to help minimize the effect of dry mouth. This is because it can stimulate the salivary glands to produce saliva.
Medical Cannabis & Dizziness
Based on a patients medical condition, sometimes cannabis may cause some dizziness. When an individual stands up quickly, this is common for some strains and those recommended higher doses. Any doctor or pharmacist will discuss this dizzy feeling. It is not uncommon but could be frightening to people. Don’t worry, if this is very concerning to you – simply visit your local doctor and ask for a different strain. For parents, it is critical to read and listen to the doctor about properly giving the correct amount to children. If you are very concerned, call your medical doctor and speak with him or her about this side effect.
Cannabis Strains that can help limit the dizziness feeling are “Charlotte’s Web”, “Watermelon Pucks”, and a few other good strains too. These cannabis based medical offerings have THC is approved by the FDA for treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Therefore, it is not surprising that “Watermelon Pucks” might be helpful in some with dizziness.
Please be aware that some individuals in some scientific studies who experienced severe dizziness also showed decreases in blood pressure. While the verdict is still our this could provide a plausible explanation for this dizziness effect. However, there are scientific studies also show that frequent patients that are consuming cannabis on a regular basis can develop a tolerance to many of marijuana’s short-term effects, including feelings of dizziness.
Medical Cannabis & The Munchies
The most popular side effects is regularly found in movies. It is the munchies! Why is it one of the most known side effects of marijuana? Well, the ‘munchies’ sometimes happens shortly after taking the recommended dose of medical grade THC. Numerous individuals experience a sudden increase in appetite, often leading them to raid their fridge. This can be a positive effect is a patient is lacking an appetite caused by a illness. While some people may view this side effect as negative, it’s a benefit to people who use marijuana to treat appetite loss during chemotherapy.
Furthermore, a number of countries legalized a pill containing THC called Marinol for patients with cancer. Though scientists that are researching THC are still unclear of the exact mechanism behind this increase in appetite. A 2015 cannabis study suggested that marijuana might activate certain pathways in the brain related to hunger. In a retail stores from a recent case study also indicates that the “widespread urban myth” that cannabis stimulates hunger and drives people to gorge on goodies is a myth no longer. The researchers looked at retail scanner data in more than 2,000 counties across the U.S. from 2006 to 2016 to determine whether states that legalize marijuana for adult use experience increases in the sale of high-calorie food items.
Past studies on the munchies have relied on data that’s “correlational and indirect,”. This research document called “Recreational Marijuana Laws and Junk Food Consumption: Evidence Using Border Analysis and Retail Sales Data” tested the hypothesis by factoring in the “differences in timing of the legalization of recreational marijuana across states” and specifically comparing “retail food purchases for the subsample of contiguous counties across [recreational marijuana law] and non-[recreational marijuana law] shared borders only.” The study found evidence that legalizing cannabis was associated with higher so-called “junk food” purchases. This transpired soon after the legalization of marijuana. Therefore, the average monthly sales of ice cream, cookies and chips jumped 3.1 percent, 4.1 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively. And that was the case even after the researchers accounted for “state- and pair-specific time trends.”
Medical Cannabis & Becoming De-Motivated
A lack of motivation is not uncommon for some. Patients may become unmotivated at work or in school, due a certain strain of cannabis. While this cliché is exaggerated, there is some merit to the belief because different strains have different side effects. Like making people feel sleepy or super relaxed. In a multiple cannabis survey results, a good percentage of marijuana users reported experiencing a loss of motivation.
Based on structured interviews with 104 experienced users in Toronto, Canada, this survey/article examines the perceived costs and benefits of cannabis consumption. A pretested questionnaire that was developed by Cohen and Sas (1998) in the Netherlands, and later translated for use in the U.S. and Germany as part of a three-city cross-national comparative study (Reinarman et al. (2000.)
The findings support a rational choice view of cannabis use in so far as reported advantages outweigh negative use outcomes. Top reasons for use pertain to relaxation and enhancement of recreational activities followed by coping with stress and anxiety. The frequency of respiratory and throat problems attributed to using cannabis underscores the perceived risk of pulmonary damage due to long-term heavy use.
Whereas concerns about use levels nonetheless overshadowed other dependency indicators, including concern for personal health, however, no association was found between amounts nor frequency of use and the number of DSM-IV items reported by respondents. Users acknowledged and accepted the potential for dependence, adapting use levels accordingly when seen as problematic.
The loss of motivation might be explained by how cannabis affects the brain. Some studies suggest that long-term cannabis users have lower levels of dopamine — a chemical in the brain that is directly responsible for motivation.
Heavy chronic cannabis use produces apathetic behaviors in rhesus monkeys and a study in humans found that reduced dopamine synthesis capacity observed in heavy cannabis users was inversely related to a motivation. An overlapping feature of the a motivational syndrome associated with cannabis use disorders is negative emotionality, such as reduced reward sensitivity and negative emotionality was also found to be inversely related to methylphenidate-induced dopamine ventral striatal dopamine release.
Although it has been proven that cannabis can act as a medicine to help people combat depression, in some cases it might work the opposite way. According to research, it suggests that marijuana can cause depression mostly in young people. Likewise, a study published in 2002 in the British Medical Journal concluded that frequent cannabis use in teenage girls from 44 schools in the Australian state of Victoria. This study was a statewide secondary school sample of 1601 students aged 14-15 followed for seven years.
Some 60% of participants had used cannabis by the age of 20; 7% were daily users at that point. Daily use in young women was associated with an over fivefold increase in the odds of reporting a state of depression and anxiety after adjustment for intercurrent use of other substances (odds ratio 5.6, 95% confidence interval 2.6 to 12). Weekly or more frequent cannabis use in teenagers predicted an approximately twofold increase in risk for later depression and anxiety (1.9, 1.1 to 3.3) after adjustment for potential baseline confounders. In contrast, depression and anxiety in teenagers predicted neither later weekly nor daily cannabis use. In the study, it made a conclusion that frequent cannabis use in teenage girls predicts later depression and anxiety, with daily users carrying the highest risk. Given recent increasing levels of cannabis use, measures to reduce frequent and heavy recreational use seem warranted. Still, it’s important to note that there are different types of depression and that marijuana may affect each type differently.
What types of Medical Cannabis are available for a patient?
Acapulco Gold originates from Acapulco, Mexico. This strain is very well-known and highly praised strain of cannabis by medical professionals. It’s noted for its ability to reduce nausea. Super Silver Haze, is an energizing strain, Super Silver Haze is said to produce feelings of euphoria, relieves pain and nausea, and an additional effect of this cannabis strain is that it lifts your mood. Fruity Pebbles OG, or FPOG, is associated with inducing euphoria and relaxation, which could make it great for stress relief. It often makes users feel giggly, helps reduce nausea, and increases appetite.
Bubba Kush is a relaxing, sleep-inducing strain that offers pain-reducing results. Purple Kush is great for inducing a state of bliss so that you feel relaxed because it can be used for reducing pain and muscle spasms. Afghan Kush originate from the Hindu Kush mountains near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This is super relaxing cannabis strain that can relieve pain and increase your appetite as well.
LA Confidential offers a deeply relaxing feeling for a patient. It’s also said to have noticeable anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects, which makes it a favorite among people with chronic pain. Sour Diesel is a highly energizing and mood-lifting strain. Sour Diesel is great for de-stressing and pain-relieving effects.
The Golden Goat cannabis strain is notable for making users feel euphoric and creative. It’s also great for reducing fatigue and stress while lifting your mood. Northern Lights is known for relaxing patients and it is known for its mood-lifting effects. It can be used to relieve stress and depression. White Widow improves your mood, gives you energy, and relaxes you all at one-time. It’s said to help reduce feelings of depression. If you’re feeling fatigued, this cannabis strain might help you stay energized and alert. Sour Diesel makes another appearance of the list. This time for being a good mood-lifting strain. It can be great for giving you a burst of productive energy.
Blue Dream is relaxing and soothing. This makes it a good fit for those patients in need of having their mood lifted and give you a feeling of euphoria. Showing up again is Acapulco Gold. This strain is also noted for its euphoria-inducing and energizing effects. It’s said to reduce fatigue and stress. Maui Wowie can help you feel super relaxed, yet energetic and creative. This cannabis strain also reduces fatigue, too, making it great for days when you need to be productive.
Purple Kush makes on a different list for the great for inducing a state of bliss so that you feel relaxed but and sleepy too. Its sedating effects means it can be used to reduce insomnia. Blue Dream makes it a second list as well! This is relaxing and soothing, but it isn’t a total sedative. This makes it perfect for easing pain, cramps, or inflammation for when you can’t afford to fall asleep.
Bubba Kush is a relaxing, sleep-inducing strain. It’s perfect for helping you fight insomnia and get some shut-eye. Yet another cannabis strain that is listed most than once in this article. Granddaddy Purple is another highly relaxing strain. It’s often praised for its insomnia-fighting offering good results. Patients have noted that it can make you feel euphoria but may increase hunger for some individuals.
LA Confidential shows up again because of it’s sleep-inducing qualities. This strain is often recommended to soothe insomnia. Northern Lights is another relaxing, sleep-inducing strain. It’s also known for its mood-lifting effects, and it can be used to relieve insomnia, pain, stress, and depression.
Please note it is important you always consult your local physician when beginning any drug treatment for your illness. Your local physician and yourself need to have a clear conversation about your health and wellness. Everyday new strains are being created by scientists to address new medical conditions of a patient. Hopefully as we move into the future, medical cannabis will become the leading drug of choice for Physicians in the world.