Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Advocates for legalization rarely make a convincing case. To hear some advocates of marijuana legalization tell it, the drug cures all diseases while promoting creativity, open-mindedness, moral progression, and a closer relationship with God and the cosmos. That sounds thoroughly unrealistic and too good to be true for people who don’t use the drug themselves—especially when the public image of a marijuana user is, again, that of a loser who risks arrest and imprisonment so that he or she can artificially invoke an endorphin release.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

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Cannabidiol is a popular natural remedy used for many common ailments.

Better known as CBD, it is one of the 104 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa (1Trusted Source).

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Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and causes the sensation of getting “high” that’s often associated with marijuana. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.

This quality makes CBD an appealing option for those who are looking for relief from pain and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of marijuana or certain pharmaceutical drugs.

CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.

It’s gaining momentum in the health and wellness world, with some scientific studies confirming it may help treat a variety of ailments like chronic pain and anxiety.

Here are seven health benefits of CBD oil that are backed by scientific evidence.

1. Can Relieve Pain
Marijuana has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. (2Trusted Source).

More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of marijuana, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects.

The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response (3Trusted Source).

The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.

Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters (4Trusted Source).

For example, one study in rats found that CBD injections reduced pain response to surgical incision, while another rat study found that oral CBD treatment significantly reduced sciatic nerve pain and inflammation (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

An oral spray called Sativex, which is a combination of THC and CBD, is approved in several countries to treat pain related to multiple sclerosis.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

In a study of 47 people with multiple sclerosis, those treated with Sativex for one month experienced a significant improvement in pain, walking and muscle spasms, compared to the placebo group (7Trusted Source).

Another study found that Sativex significantly improved pain during movement, pain at rest and sleep quality in 58 people with rheumatoid arthritis (8Trusted Source).

SUMMARY
CBD, especially in combination with THC, may be effective in reducing pain associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Could Reduce Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are common mental health disorders that can have devastating impacts on health and well-being.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the single largest contributor to disability worldwide, while anxiety disorders are ranked sixth (9).

Anxiety and depression are usually treated with pharmaceutical drugs, which can cause a number of side effects including drowsiness, agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and headache (10Trusted Source).

What’s more, medications like benzodiazepines can be addictive and may lead to substance abuse (11Trusted Source).

CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach.

In one study, 24 people with social anxiety disorder received either 600 mg of CBD or a placebo before a public speaking test.

The group that received the CBD had significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, compared to the placebo group (12Trusted Source).

CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder (13Trusted Source).

CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in several animal studies (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.Using CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in both human and animal studies.
3. Can Alleviate Cancer-Related Symptoms
CBD may help reduce symptoms related to cancer and side effects related to cancer treatment, like nausea, vomiting and pain.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

One study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 people with cancer-related pain who did not experience relief from pain medication.

Those treated with an extract containing both compounds experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those who received only THC extract (16Trusted Source).

CBD may also help reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, which are among the most common chemotherapy-related side effects for those with cancer (17Trusted Source).

Though there are drugs that help with these distressing symptoms, they are sometimes ineffective, leading some people to seek alternatives.

A study of 16 people undergoing chemotherapy found that a one-to-one combination of CBD and THC administered via mouth spray reduced chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment alone (18Trusted Source).

Some test-tube and animal studies have even shown that CBD may have anticancer properties. For example, one test-tube study found that concentrated CBD induced cell death in human breast cancer cells (19Trusted Source).

Another study showed that CBD inhibited the spread of aggressive breast cancer cells in mice (20Trusted Source).

However, these are test-tube and animal studies, so they can only suggest what might work in people. More studies in humans are needed before conclusions can be made.

SUMMARY
Though CBD has been shown to help reduce symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatment, and may even have cancer-fighting properties, more research is needed to assess its efficacy and safety.
4. May Reduce Acne
Acne is a common skin condition that affects more than 9% of the population (21Trusted Source).

It is thought to be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, bacteria, underlying inflammation and the overproduction of sebum, an oily secretion made by sebaceous glands in the skin (22Trusted Source, 23).

Based on recent scientific studies, CBD oil may help treat acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production.

One test-tube study found that CBD oil prevented sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum, exerted anti-inflammatory actions and prevented the activation of “pro-acne” agents like inflammatory cytokines (24Trusted Source).

Another study had similar findings, concluding that CBD may be an efficient and safe way to treat acne, thanks in part to its remarkable anti-inflammatory qualities (25Trusted Source).

Though these results are promising, human studies exploring the effects of CBD on acne are needed.

Contrary to the beliefs of those who advocate the legalization of marijuana, the current balanced, restrictive, and bipartisan drug policies of the United States are working reasonably well and they have contributed to reductions in the rate of marijuana use in our nation.

The rate of current, past 30-day use of marijuana by Americans aged 12 and older in 1979 was 13.2 percent. In 2008 that figure stood at 6.1 percent. This 54-percent reduction in marijuana use over that 29-year period is a major public health triumph, not a failure.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug in the U.S. and around the world. Those who support its legalization, for medical or for general use, fail to recognize that the greatest costs of marijuana are not related to its prohibition; they are the costs resulting from marijuana use itself.

There is a common misconception that the principle costs of marijuana use are those related to the criminal justice system. This is a false premise. Caulkins & Sevigny (2005) found that the percentage of people in prison for marijuana use is less than one half of one percent (0.1-0.2 percent).

An encounter with the criminal justice system through apprehension for a drug-related crime frequently can benefit the offender because the criminal justice system is often a path to treatment.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

More than a third, 37 percent, of treatment admissions reported in the Treatment Episode Data Set, TEDS, collected from state-funded programs were referred through the criminal justice system. Marijuana was an identified drug of abuse for 57 percent of the individuals referred to treatment from the criminal justice system. The future of drug policy is not a choice between using the criminal justice system or treatment. The more appropriate goal is to get these two systems to work together more effectively to improve both public safety and public health.

In the discussion of legalizing marijuana, a useful analogy can be made to gambling. MacCoun & Reuter (2001) conclude that making the government a beneficiary of legal gambling has encouraged the government to promote gambling, overlooking it as a problem behavior. They point out that “the moral debasement of state government is a phenomenon that only a few academics and preachers bemoan.”

Legalized gambling has not reduced illegal gambling in the United States; rather, it has increased it. This is particularly evident in sports gambling, most of which is illegal. Legal gambling is taxed and regulated and illegal gambling is not. Legal gambling sets the stage for illegal gambling just the way legal marijuana would set the stage for illegal marijuana trafficking.

The gambling precedent suggests strongly that illegal drug suppliers would thrive by selling more potent marijuana products outside of the legal channels that would be taxed and otherwise restricted. If marijuana were legalized, the only way to eliminate its illegal trade, which is modest in comparison to that of cocaine, would be to sell marijuana untaxed and unregulated to any willing buyer.

Marijuana is currently the leading cause of substance dependence other than alcohol in the U.S. In 2008, marijuana use accounted for 4.2 million of the 7 million people aged 12 or older classified with dependence on or abuse of an illicit drug. This means that about two thirds of Americans suffering from any substance use disorder are suffering from marijuana abuse or marijuana dependence.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

If the U.S. were to legalize marijuana, the number of marijuana users would increase. Today there are 15.2 million current marijuana users in comparison to 129 million alcohol users and 70.9 million tobacco users. Though the number of marijuana users might not quickly climb to the current numbers for alcohol and tobacco, if marijuana was legalized, the increase in users would be both large and rapid with subsequent increases in addiction.

Important lessons can be learned from those two widely-used legal drugs. While both alcohol and tobacco are taxed and regulated, the tax benefits to the public are vastly overshadowed by the adverse consequences of their use.

Alcohol-related costs total over $185 billion while federal and states collected an estimated $14.5 billion in tax revenue; similarly, tobacco use costs over $200 billion but only $25 billion is collected in taxes. These figures show that the costs of legal alcohol are more than 12 times the total tax revenue collected, and that the costs of legal tobacco are about 8 times the tax revenue collected. This is an economically disastrous tradeoff.

The costs of legalizing marijuana would not only be financial. New marijuana users would not be limited to adults if marijuana were legalized, just as regulations on alcohol and tobacco do not prevent use by youth. Rapidly accumulating new research shows that marijuana use is associated with increases in a range of serious mental and physical problems. Lack of public understanding on this relationship is undermining prevention efforts and adversely affecting the nation’s youth and their families.

Drug-impaired driving will also increase if marijuana is legalized. Marijuana is already a significant causal factor in highway crashes, injuries and deaths. In a recent national roadside survey of weekend nighttime drivers, 8.6 percent tested positive for marijuana or its metabolites, nearly four times the percentage of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL (2.2 percent).

In another study of seriously injured drivers admitted to a Level-1 shock trauma center, more than a quarter of all drivers (26.9 percent) tested positive for marijuana. In a study of fatally injured drivers in Washington State, 12.7 percent tested positive for marijuana. These studies demonstrate the high prevalence of drugged driving as a result of marijuana use.

Many people who want to legalize marijuana are passionate about their perception of the alleged failures of policies aimed at reducing marijuana use but those legalization proponents seldom—if ever—describe their own plan for taxing and regulating marijuana as a legal drug. There is a reason for this imbalance; they cannot come up with a credible plan for legalization that could deliver on their exaggerated claims for this new policy.

Future drug policies must be smarter and more effective in curbing the demand for illegal drugs including marijuana. Smarter-drug prevention policies should start by reducing illegal drug use among the 5 million criminal offenders who are on parole and probation in the U.S. They are among the nation’s heaviest and most problem-generating illegal drug users.

Monitoring programs that are linked to swift and certain, but not severe, consequences for any drug use have demonstrated outstanding results including lower recidivism and lower rates of incarceration. New policies to curb drugged driving will not only make our roads and highways safer and provide an important new path to treatment, but they will also reduce illegal drug use.

Reducing marijuana use is essential to improving the nation’s health, education, and productivity. New policies can greatly improve current performance of prevention strategies which, far from failing, has protected millions of people from the many adverse effects of marijuana use.

Since legalization of marijuana for medical or general use would increase marijuana use rather than reduce it and would lead to increased rates of addiction to marijuana among youth and adults, legalizing marijuana is not a smart public health or public safety strategy for any state or for our nation.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Marijuana is often thought of as a drug for stoners, burn-outs, and potheads. Since it’s hard to feel enthusiastic about the prospects of enabling degenerate activities associated with hippies and losers, imposing criminal sanctions for marijuana possession function as a form of communal “tough love” for undesirables and slackers.

Lack of “Acceptable Medicinal Use”
Marijuana seems to yield considerable medical benefits for many Americans with ailments ranging from glaucoma to cancer, but these benefits have not been accepted on a national level. Medical use of marijuana remains a serious national controversy, with lively legalization debates and many skeptics. In order to fight the argument that marijuana has no medical use, legalization advocates are working to highlight the effects it has had on the lives of people who have used the drug for medical reasons. Meanwhile, highly addictive substances like alcohol and tobacco do not have to meet the same burden of positive evidence.

Addictive Perception
Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug on the basis that it is perceived as addictive, with “a high potential for abuse.” This classification comes from a suspicion that people who use marijuana get hooked and become “potheads,” and it begins to dominate their lives. This unquestionably happens in some cases, and in others, it doesn’t. It also happens with alcohol, which is perfectly legal.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

In order to fight this argument for prohibition, legalization advocates have made the argument that marijuana is not as addictive as government sources claim. So how addictive is marijuana after all? The truth is we really just don’t know yet, but it looks like the risk is relatively low, especially when compared with other drugs.

Historically Racist Associations
The intense anti-marijuana movement of the 1930s dovetailed nicely with the intense anti-Chicano movement of the 1930s. Marijuana was associated with Mexican-Americans, and a ban on marijuana was seen as a way of discouraging Mexican-American subcultures from developing. These racist associations were often closely tied to degeneracy as described above, often stemming from economic depression rather than drug use.

Today, thanks in large part to the very public popularity of marijuana among whites during the 1960s and 1970s, marijuana is no longer seen as what one might call an ethnic drug. Still, the groundwork for the anti-marijuana movement was laid down at a time when marijuana was seen as an encroachment on virtuous majority white culture in the U.S. by black and latino people, generally oppressed ethnic minorities.

Link to Heavy Narcotics Like Heroin
Historically, early anti-drug laws were written to regulate narcotics like opium and its derivatives, such as heroin and morphine. Marijuana, though not a narcotic, was described as such, along with cocaine. This association stuck, and there is now a vast gulf in the American consciousness between “normal” recreational drugs, such as alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine, and “abnormal” recreational drugs, such as heroin, crack, or methamphetamine. Marijuana is generally associated with the latter category, which is why it is convincingly misrepresented as a “gateway drug.”Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Inertia in Public Policy
If something has been banned for only a short period of time, then the ban is seen as unstable. If something has been banned for a long time, however, then the ban—no matter how ill-conceived it might be—tends to go unenforced long before it is actually taken off the books.

People tend to be uncomfortable challenging the status quo—and the status quo, for nearly a century, has been a literal or de facto federal ban on marijuana. Some are actively invested in maintaining the business as usual, while others merely fall victim to the powerful force of inertia.

Medical marijuana has been approved in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but researchers are still trying to connect the dots as to how, and if, it works.

“Unfortunately, there are almost no uses of medical marijuana that have been subjected to the kind of rigorous testing you’d want for a pharmaceutical,” says Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “This does not mean that it has no benefits, but only that the lack of human studies prevents us from being sure if medical marijuana can really help.”

What we know
Marijuana is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. It contains more than 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids. When ingested or inhaled, these compounds bind to specific receptors in brain and nerve cells, which slows pain impulses and eases discomfort. The two most prevalent compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which is what gives people a “high” — and cannabidiol.

From a research perspective, medical marijuana is simply hard to study. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high risk for abuse and lacks any accepted medical use.

Therefore, its use in any clinical trials requires registration by the researchers and their institution and approval by the Drug Enforcement Agency. As you can imagine, the amount of red tape can make research slow going.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Some initial findings have suggested that marijuana may help with certain age-related ailments, such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, and glaucoma.

Yet, so far, most of the available data are from animal experiments or observational studies that rely on people’s willingness to report their marijuana use. “And since most users are recreational, it’s tough to accurately measure dosage and frequency,” says Dr. Mukamal.

It’s no surprise, then, that the science is so cloudy. For instance, an analysis published in 2015 in The Journal of the American Medical Association examining almost 80 trials involving nearly 6,500 people found that most of these studies suggested that marijuana use was associated with relief of some symptoms, but the findings were inconsistent.

Different ways to use
This doesn’t mean medical marijuana isn’t used. In some states your doctor can prescribe the treatment if he or she feels it’s a viable treatment option. Dosages vary, depending on why you need it. For instance, 2 to 3 milligrams of marijuana might be given two to four times per day to prevent nausea and vomiting.

However, one advantage to medical marijuana compared with other drugs is the variety of ways you can take it. Smoking is the fastest way to feel its effects, but has many of the same health risks as regular smoking. The preferred methods are taking capsules, inhaling vapors, and consuming marijuana in food or tea.

Safety issues
Medical marijuana is often considered safe when used as prescribed in the short term. However, some common side effects are dry mouth, impaired mental function, dizziness, and heart and blood pressure problems.

Even though marijuana is a mind-altering drug, it does not appear to have a lasting effect on cognitive function in adults. For example, a small study from Harvard’s Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program looked at a group of people who used the drug to treat and manage anxiety, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep problems, and found that after three months of use, they did not show signs of declining cognitive function. In fact, their executive function skills — like paying attention and managing time — actually improved.

Be aware that the potential benefits vary from one person to another and can be influenced by factors such as medical history and family predisposition, says Dr. Mukamal.

Also keep in mind that Medicare and other insurance carriers do not cover medical marijuana. Until more is known, it’s probably best not to get caught up in the hype from sweeping legalization.

Medical marijuana has been approved in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but researchers are still trying to connect the dots as to how, and if, it works.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

“Unfortunately, there are almost no uses of medical marijuana that have been subjected to the kind of rigorous testing you’d want for a pharmaceutical,” says Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “This does not mean that it has no benefits, but only that the lack of human studies prevents us from being sure if medical marijuana can really help.”

What we know
Marijuana is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. It contains more than 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids. When ingested or inhaled, these compounds bind to specific receptors in brain and nerve cells, which slows pain impulses and eases discomfort. The two most prevalent compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which is what gives people a “high” — and cannabidiol.

From a research perspective, medical marijuana is simply hard to study. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high risk for abuse and lacks any accepted medical use.

Therefore, its use in any clinical trials requires registration by the researchers and their institution and approval by the Drug Enforcement Agency. As you can imagine, the amount of red tape can make research slow going.

Some initial findings have suggested that marijuana may help with certain age-related ailments, such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, and glaucoma.

Yet, so far, most of the available data are from animal experiments or observational studies that rely on people’s willingness to report their marijuana use. “And since most users are recreational, it’s tough to accurately measure dosage and frequency,” says Dr. Mukamal.

It’s no surprise, then, that the science is so cloudy. For instance, an analysis published in 2015 in The Journal of the American Medical Association examining almost 80 trials involving nearly 6,500 people found that most of these studies suggested that marijuana use was associated with relief of some symptoms, but the findings were inconsistent.

Different ways to use
This doesn’t mean medical marijuana isn’t used. In some states your doctor can prescribe the treatment if he or she feels it’s a viable treatment option. Dosages vary, depending on why you need it. For instance, 2 to 3 milligrams of marijuana might be given two to four times per day to prevent nausea and vomiting.

However, one advantage to medical marijuana compared with other drugs is the variety of ways you can take it. Smoking is the fastest way to feel its effects, but has many of the same health risks as regular smoking. The preferred methods are taking capsules, inhaling vapors, and consuming marijuana in food or tea.

Safety issues
Medical marijuana is often considered safe when used as prescribed in the short term. However, some common side effects are dry mouth, impaired mental function, dizziness, and heart and blood pressure problems.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Even though marijuana is a mind-altering drug, it does not appear to have a lasting effect on cognitive function in adults. For example, a small study from Harvard’s Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program looked at a group of people who used the drug to treat and manage anxiety, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep problems, and found that after three months of use, they did not show signs of declining cognitive function. In fact, their executive function skills — like paying attention and managing time — actually improved.

Be aware that the potential benefits vary from one person to another and can be influenced by factors such as medical history and family predisposition, says Dr. Mukamal.

Also keep in mind that Medicare and other insurance carriers do not cover medical marijuana. Until more is known, it’s probably best not to get caught up in the hype from sweeping legalization.

Medical marijuana has been approved in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but researchers are still trying to connect the dots as to how, and if, it works.

“Unfortunately, there are almost no uses of medical marijuana that have been subjected to the kind of rigorous testing you’d want for a pharmaceutical,” says Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “This does not mean that it has no benefits, but only that the lack of human studies prevents us from being sure if medical marijuana can really help.”

What we know
Marijuana is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. It contains more than 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids. When ingested or inhaled, these compounds bind to specific receptors in brain and nerve cells, which slows pain impulses and eases discomfort. The two most prevalent compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which is what gives people a “high” — and cannabidiol.

From a research perspective, medical marijuana is simply hard to study. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high risk for abuse and lacks any accepted medical use.

Therefore, its use in any clinical trials requires registration by the researchers and their institution and approval by the Drug Enforcement Agency. As you can imagine, the amount of red tape can make research slow going.

Some initial findings have suggested that marijuana may help with certain age-related ailments, such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, and glaucoma.

Yet, so far, most of the available data are from animal experiments or observational studies that rely on people’s willingness to report their marijuana use. “And since most users are recreational, it’s tough to accurately measure dosage and frequency,” says Dr. Mukamal.

It’s no surprise, then, that the science is so cloudy. For instance, an analysis published in 2015 in The Journal of the American Medical Association examining almost 80 trials involving nearly 6,500 people found that most of these studies suggested that marijuana use was associated with relief of some symptoms, but the findings were inconsistent.

Different ways to use
This doesn’t mean medical marijuana isn’t used. In some states your doctor can prescribe the treatment if he or she feels it’s a viable treatment option. Dosages vary, depending on why you need it. For instance, 2 to 3 milligrams of marijuana might be given two to four times per day to prevent nausea and vomiting.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

However, one advantage to medical marijuana compared with other drugs is the variety of ways you can take it. Smoking is the fastest way to feel its effects, but has many of the same health risks as regular smoking. The preferred methods are taking capsules, inhaling vapors, and consuming marijuana in food or tea.

Safety issues
Medical marijuana is often considered safe when used as prescribed in the short term. However, some common side effects are dry mouth, impaired mental function, dizziness, and heart and blood pressure problems.

Even though marijuana is a mind-altering drug, it does not appear to have a lasting effect on cognitive function in adults. For example, a small study from Harvard’s Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program looked at a group of people who used the drug to treat and manage anxiety, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep problems, and found that after three months of use, they did not show signs of declining cognitive function. In fact, their executive function skills — like paying attention and managing time — actually improved.

Be aware that the potential benefits vary from one person to another and can be influenced by factors such as medical history and family predisposition, says Dr. Mukamal.

Also keep in mind that Medicare and other insurance carriers do not cover medical marijuana. Until more is known, it’s probably best not to get caught up in the hype from sweeping legalization.

Medical marijuana has been approved in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but researchers are still trying to connect the dots as to how, and if, it works.

“Unfortunately, there are almost no uses of medical marijuana that have been subjected to the kind of rigorous testing you’d want for a pharmaceutical,” says Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “This does not mean that it has no benefits, but only that the lack of human studies prevents us from being sure if medical marijuana can really help.”

What we know
Marijuana is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. It contains more than 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids. When ingested or inhaled, these compounds bind to specific receptors in brain and nerve cells, which slows pain impulses and eases discomfort. The two most prevalent compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which is what gives people a “high” — and cannabidiol.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

From a research perspective, medical marijuana is simply hard to study. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high risk for abuse and lacks any accepted medical use.

Therefore, its use in any clinical trials requires registration by the researchers and their institution and approval by the Drug Enforcement Agency. As you can imagine, the amount of red tape can make research slow going.

Some initial findings have suggested that marijuana may help with certain age-related ailments, such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, and glaucoma.

Yet, so far, most of the available data are from animal experiments or observational studies that rely on people’s willingness to report their marijuana use. “And since most users are recreational, it’s tough to accurately measure dosage and frequency,” says Dr. Mukamal.

It’s no surprise, then, that the science is so cloudy. For instance, an analysis published in 2015 in The Journal of the American Medical Association examining almost 80 trials involving nearly 6,500 people found that most of these studies suggested that marijuana use was associated with relief of some symptoms, but the findings were inconsistent.

Different ways to use
This doesn’t mean medical marijuana isn’t used. In some states your doctor can prescribe the treatment if he or she feels it’s a viable treatment option. Dosages vary, depending on why you need it. For instance, 2 to 3 milligrams of marijuana might be given two to four times per day to prevent nausea and vomiting.

However, one advantage to medical marijuana compared with other drugs is the variety of ways you can take it. Smoking is the fastest way to feel its effects, but has many of the same health risks as regular smoking. The preferred methods are taking capsules, inhaling vapors, and consuming marijuana in food or tea.

Safety issues
Medical marijuana is often considered safe when used as prescribed in the short term. However, some common side effects are dry mouth, impaired mental function, dizziness, and heart and blood pressure problems.

Even though marijuana is a mind-altering drug, it does not appear to have a lasting effect on cognitive function in adults. For example, a small study from Harvard’s Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program looked at a group of people who used the drug to treat and manage anxiety, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep problems, and found that after three months of use, they did not show signs of declining cognitive function. In fact, their executive function skills — like paying attention and managing time — actually improved.

Be aware that the potential benefits vary from one person to another and can be influenced by factors such as medical history and family predisposition, says Dr. Mukamal.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Also keep in mind that Medicare and other insurance carriers do not cover medical marijuana. Until more is known, it’s probably best not to get caught up in the hype from sweeping legalization.

Medical uses
From 1850s to 1930s cannabis started to grow famous for recreational purposes. As the intake of this drug increased over time, The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified it as a Scheduled 1 Drug. So naturally controversies aroused surrounding the medical use of marijuana.

To make it more medical-friendly, its active ingredient THC was synthesized in 1966, and finally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1985.

A 1999 a U.S. Government sponsored study by the Institute of Medicine uncovered the beneficial properties of marijuana in certain medical conditions such as nausea caused by chemotherapy, and wasting caused by AIDS. Since 1999, a number of studies have been done to show that smoked marijuana has pain reducing effects.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical objectives, and about 24 of the states now have some sort of medical marijuana legislation.

Medical benefits of marijuana
You will be surprised to know why studies have been done on this herb, and for your favor, here is the list of 20 medical benefits of marijuana you probably never knew!

1. Slow and stop cancer cells from spreading
It was found in the study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, that Cannabidiol has the ability to stop cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1. [1] In 2007, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, reported that CBD may prevent cancer from spreading. The researchers experimented on breast cancer cells in the lab that had high level of Id-1, and treated them with cannabidiol.

The outcome was rather positive, the cells had decreased Id-1 expression, and were less aggressive spreaders. In fact, the American Association for Cancer Research has found that marijuana actually works to slow down tumor growth in brain, breast, and lungs considerately.

2. Prevent Alzheimer’s
THC, the active ingredient present in marijuana slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a 2006 study led by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute found out. THC slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques kill the brain cells, and potentially lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Treat Glaucoma
Marijuana can be used to treat glaucoma, which increases the pressure in the eyeball, injuring the optic nerve and causing loss of vision. According to National Eye Institute, marijuana lowers the pressure inside the eye,[2]Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

“Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.”

These effects of the drug can prevent blindness.

4. Relieve Arthritis
In 2011, researchers reported that cannabis reduces pain and inflammation, and promotes sleep, which may help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers of the rheumatology units at several hospitals gave their patients Sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine. After two weeks, patients on Sativex had a significant reduction in pain, and improved better sleep quality compared to placebo users.

5. Control Epileptic seizure
A 2003 study showed that marijuana use can control epileptic seizure.[3]

Robert J. DeLorenzo, of Virginia Commonwealth University, gave marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana to epileptic rats. The drugs stopped the seizures in about 10 hours.

It is found out that the THC controlled the seizures by binding the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation. The results were published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.[4]

6. Ease the pain of multiple sclerosis
Marijuana works to stop the negative neurological effects and muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association suggests that marijuana may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Jody Cory Bloom studied 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients didn’t respond to other medications, but after smoking marijuana for few days, they reported that they were in less pain. The THC in the pot bonds the receptors in the nerves and and muscles to relieve pain.

7. Soothe tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease
Recent studies from Israel shows that smoking marijuana remarkably reduces pains and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson’s disease patients. What was impressive about the research was the improvement of the fine motor skills among patients.

Israel has made medical marijuana legal, and a lot of research into the medical uses of weed is done there, supported by the Israeli Government.[5]

8. Help with Crohn’s disease
Cannabis may be helpful with curing Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder that causes pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and more.

Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit drugs in the world. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that worldwide 3-5% of adults use cannabis [1]. The prevalence of cannabis use is very high in countries such as Ghana (21.5%), Zambia (17.7%), Canada (17.0%), the United States of America (US, 12.3%), and New Zealand (13.3%)[1]. It has been estimated that there are 20 million cannabis users in the US, including 1.2 million medical cannabis users [2, 3]. About 6 percent of Americans above the age of 18 will meet the DSM-5 criteria for cannabis use disorder at some point in their life [4].Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

In the US, federal law does not allow recreational or medical cannabis use. However, recreational and medical cannabis use is legal in an increasing number of states. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis and 4 states have legalized its recreational use. It is expected that cannabis use will continue to increase as there is growing tolerance towards the use of cannabis and an increase in the number of patients who use cannabis for medical purposes [5]. Most cannabis studies have investigated the effects of cannabis in healthy adolescents and young adults. However, cannabis is also used recreationally by older adults and by patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders to alleviate symptoms associated with their disorder. A large study with participants from 31 countries showed that 24.1% of cannabis users are between the ages of 51 and 60, 5.8% between 61 and 70, and 0.6% are older than 70 [6]. Cannabis use has more than quadrupled among the 55-59 year olds (1.6 to 7.4%) and doubled among 60-64 year olds (2.4 to 4.4%) between 2002 and 2012 [7].

In addition to the increase in cannabis use in the elderly, there has also been an increase in the use of cannabis for the treatment of neurological disorders [8, 9]. This is in combination with the dramatic increase in THC levels in cannabis which could lead to an increase in the number of people who experience adverse mental health effects [10].
In addition to cannabis, cannabis-based treatments such
as nabiximols (trade name Sativex, cannabis plant extract, 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC), dronabinol (trade name Marinol, synthetic THC), and nabilone (trade name Cesamet, synthetic cannabinoid with chemical structure similar to THC) have also been used by people with brain disorders. Both nabilone and dronabinol have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy for cancer and to stimulate appetite in AIDS patients with wasting syndrome. Nabiximols is already being used in 15 countries for the treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) and in the US, Sativex is being reviewed by the FDA for the treatment of cancer pain. The goal of this review is to provide insight into the potential beneficial and harmful effects of cannabis use and cannabis-based treatments in people with common neurological or psychiatric disorders and older individuals.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

2. CANNABINOIDS
Cannabis has been used in religious ceremonies and for medical purposes for thousands of years [11]. Cannabidiol (CBD), the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis, was isolated in the 1940s and its structure was established in the 1960s [12, 13]. It wasn’t until 1964 that tetrahydro-
cannabinol (THC) was isolated [14]. Cannabidiol does not induce intoxication and diminishes the psychotropic effects of THC [15, 16]. The cannabinoids can be classified into three groups: phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids [17]. More than one hundred phytocannabinoids have been isolated but in most commercial cannabis strains, only THC is produced in high levels [18]. Another phyto-
cannabinoid that is sometimes expressed at high levels
is CBD. Furthermore, two endocannabinoids have been discovered, namely 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and anandamide [19-21]. Some synthetic cannabinoids have a much higher potency than THC and have been associated with severe adverse mental health effects [22]. Cannabinoids mediate their effects via the activation of the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2) receptor. The endogenous ligands for these receptors are 2-AG and anandamide. The CB1 receptor is one of the most common receptors in the central nervous system. High levels of CB1 receptors have been detected in the hippocampus, basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex and cerebellum [23]. The localization of this receptor in the basal ganglia, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex underscores the critical role of the cannabinoid system in the regulation of motor function and cognition [24]. The CB2 receptors are mostly found in the periphery (thymus and spleen), but they have also been detected on cerebellar and brain stem neurons [25]. Cannabinoid type 2 receptor levels are extremely low in the healthy brain but their levels increase after injury and inflammation [26, 27]. The CB2 receptors are mainly expressed on activated microglia, which play a critical role in the removal of dying cells but also induce the release of cytotoxic molecules that can lead to cell death [28, 29]. Activation of the CB2 receptor decreases the release of cytokines and chemokines and diminishes inflammation and cell death

The American public largely supports the legalization of medical marijuana. At least 84% of the public believes the drug should be legal for medical uses, and recreational pot usage is less controversial than ever, with at least 61% of Americans in support.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Even though some medical benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, recent research has demonstrated that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and strong reasons to continue studying the drug’s medicinal uses.

Even the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse lists medical uses for cannabis.

There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving properties and is largely responsible for the high.

But scientists say that limitations on marijuana research mean we still have big questions about its medicinal properties. In addition to CBD and THC, there are another 400 or so chemical compounds, more than 60 of which are cannabinoids. Many of these could have medical uses. But without more research, we won’t know how to best make use of those compounds.

More research would also shed light on the risks of marijuana. Even if there are legitimate uses for medicinal marijuana, that doesn’t mean all use is harmless. Some research indicates that chronic, heavy users may have impaired memory, learning, and processing speed, especially if they started regularly using marijuana before age 16 or 17.

For some of the following medical benefits, there’s good evidence. For others, there’s reason to continue conducting research.

Cancer
Cannabinoids have been shown to exhibit some anti-cancer effects in laboratory experiments, although there has been little research into their use as a cancer treatment in people.[18][19] Laboratory experiments have suggested that cannabis and cannabinoids have anticarcinogenic and antitumor effects,[20] including a potential effect on breast- and lung-cancer cells.[21] The National Cancer Institute reports that as of November 2013 there have been no clinical trials on the use of cannabis to treat cancer in people, and only one small study using delta-9-THC that reported potential antitumoral activity.[22] While cannabis may have potential for refractory cancer pain, use as an antiemetic, and as an antitumor agent, much of the evidence comes from outdated or small studies, or animal experiments.[23]

Although there is ongoing research, claims that cannabis has been proved to cure cancer are, according to Cancer Research UK, both prevalent on the internet and “highly misleading”.[24]Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

There is no good evidence that cannabis use helps reduce the risk of getting cancer.[24] Whether smoking cannabis increases cancer risk in general is difficult to establish since it is often smoked mixed with tobacco – a known carcinogen – and this complicates research.[24] Cannabis use is linked to an increased risk of a type of testicular cancer.[25]

The association of cannabis use with head and neck carcinoma may differ by tumor site, with both possible pro- and anticarcinogenic effects of cannabinoids. Additional work is needed to rule out various sources of bias, confounds and misclassification of cannabis exposure.[26]

Dementia
Cannabinoids have been proposed to have the potential for lessening the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.[27] A 2012 review of the effect of cannabinoids on brain ageing found that “clinical evidence regarding their efficacy as therapeutic tools is either inconclusive or still missing”.[28] A 2009 Cochrane review said that the “one small randomized controlled trial [that] assessed the efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of dementia … [had] … poorly presented results and did not provide sufficient data to draw any useful conclusions”.[29]

Diabetes
There is emerging evidence that cannabidiol may help slow cell damage in diabetes mellitus type 1.[30] There is a lack of meaningful evidence of the effects of medical cannabis use on people with diabetes; a 2010 review concluded that “the potential risks and benefits for diabetic patients remain unquantified at the present time”.[31]

Epilepsy
A 2016 review in the New England Journal of Medicine said that although there was a lot of hype and anecdotes surrounding medical cannabis and epilepsy, “current data from studies in humans are extremely limited, and no conclusions can be drawn”.[32] The mechanisms by which cannabis may be effective in the treatment of epilepsy remain unclear.[33]

Some reasons for the lack of clinical research have been the introduction of new synthetic and more stable pharmaceutical anticonvulsants, the recognition of important adverse side effects, and legal restrictions to the use of cannabis-derived medicines[34] – although in December 2015, the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) has eased some of the regulatory requirements for conducting FDA-approved clinical trials on cannabidiol (CBD).[35]

Epidiolex, a cannabis-based product developed by GW Pharmaceuticals for experimental treatment of epilepsy, underwent stage-two trials in the US in 2014.[36]

A 2017 study found that cannabidiol decreased the rate of seizures in those with Dravet syndrome but increased the rate of sleepiness and trouble with the liver.[37]Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Glaucoma
In 2009, the American Glaucoma Society noted that while cannabis can help lower intraocular pressure, it recommended against its use because of “its side effects and short duration of action, coupled with a lack of evidence that its use alters the course of glaucoma”.[38] As of 2008 relatively little research had been done concerning therapeutic effects of cannabinoids on the eyes.[39]

Tourette syndrome
A 2007 review of the history of medical cannabis said cannabinoids showed potential therapeutic value in treating Tourette syndrome (TS).[40] A 2005 review said that controlled research on treating TS with dronabinol showed the patients taking the pill had a beneficial response without serious adverse effects;[41] a 2000 review said other studies had shown that cannabis “has no effects on tics and increases the individuals inner tension”.[42]

A 2009 Cochrane review examined the two controlled trials to date using cannabinoids of any preparation type for the treatment of tics or TS (Muller-Vahl 2002, and Muller-Vahl 2003). Both trials compared delta-9-THC; 28 patients were included in the two studies (8 individuals participated in both studies).[43] Both studies reported a positive effect on tics, but “the improvements in tic frequency and severity were small and were only detected by some of the outcome measures”.[43] The sample size was small and a high number of individuals either dropped out of the study or were excluded.[43] The original Muller-Vahl studies reported individuals who remained in the study; patients may drop out when adverse effects are too high or efficacy is not evident.[43] The authors of the original studies acknowledged few significant results after Bonferroni correction.[43]

Cannabinoid medication might be useful in the treatment of the symptoms in patients with TS,[43] but the 2009 review found that the two relevant studies of cannibinoids in treating tics had attrition bias, and that there was “not enough evidence to support the use of cannabinoids in treating tics and obsessive compulsive behaviour in people with Tourette’s syndrome”.[43]

Other conditions
Anecdotal evidence and pre-clinical research has suggested that cannabis or cannabinoids may be beneficial for treating Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, but follow-up studies of people with these conditions have not produced good evidence of therapeutic potential.[44] A 2001 paper argued that cannabis had properties that made it potentially applicable to the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and on that basis research on this topic should be permitted, despite the legal difficulties of the time.[45]Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

A 2005 review and meta-analysis said that bipolar disorder was not well-controlled by existing medications and that there were “good pharmacological reasons” for thinking cannabis had therapeutic potential, making it a good candidate for further study.[46]

Cannabinoids have been proposed for the treatment of primary anorexia nervosa, but have no measurable beneficial effect.[47] The authors of a 2003 paper argued that cannabinoids might have useful future clinical applications in treating digestive diseases.[48] Laboratory experiments have shown that cannabinoids found in marijuana may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.[21]

In 2014, the American Academy of Neurology reviewed all available findings levering the use of marijuana to treat brain diseases. The result was that the scientific evidence is weak that cannabis in any form serves as medicinal for curing or alleviating neurological disorders. To ease multiple sclerosis patients’ stiffness, which may be accomplished by their taking cannabis extract by mouth or as a spray, there is support. The academy has published new guidelines on the use of marijuana pills and sprays in the treatment of MS.[49]

Cannabis is being investigated for its possible use in inflammatory bowel disease but as of 2014 there is only weak evidence for its benefits as a treatment.[50]

A 2007 review said cannabidiol had shown potential to relieve convulsion, inflammation, cough, congestion and nausea, and to inhibit cancer cell growth.[51] Preliminary studies have also shown potential over psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis.[52] Because cannabidiol relieves the aforementioned symptoms, cannabis strains with a high amount of CBD may benefit people with multiple sclerosis or frequent anxiety attacks

People have used marijuana, also called cannabis, for a variety of health conditions for at least 3,000 years. More recently, individual components of marijuana or similar synthetic substances have also been used for health purposes. These substances are called cannabinoids.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved marijuana (the plant) for treating any health problems. However, some states and the District of Columbia allow its use for certain health purposes. Whether marijuana has therapeutic benefits that outweigh its health risks is uncertain.

The FDA has approved three cannabinoids as drugs. In 2018, the agency approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol or CBD) oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. This drug is derived from marijuana. The FDA has also approved the synthetic cannabinoids dronabinol and nabilone to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in people who have already taken other medicines to treat these symptoms without good results. Dronabinol is also approved to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people with AIDS. Dronabinol contains synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of marijuana, and nabilone contains a synthetic substance with a similar chemical structure. In 2016, the FDA approved Syndros, a liquid form of dronabinol.

The FDA has determined that it is not legal to sell products that contain THC or CBD as dietary supplements. It is also not legal to sell foods containing added THC or CBD in interstate commerce.

In January 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report (link is external) on the health effects of marijuana and products derived from it. The report summarizes the current evidence on both therapeutic effects and harmful effects, recommends that research be done to develop a comprehensive understanding of the health effects of marijuana, and recommends that steps be taken to overcome regulatory barriers that may make it difficult to do research on marijuana’s health effects.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

These are just a few of the excellent questions around this subject, questions that I am going to studiously avoid so we can focus on two specific areas: why do patients find it useful, and how can they discuss it with their doctor?

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.

However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.

Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Why isn’t the marijuana plant an FDA-approved medicine?
The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far, researchers haven’t conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it’s meant to treat.

Marijuana is currently legal, on the state level, in 29 states, and in Washington, DC. It is still illegal from the federal government’s perspective. The Obama administration did not make prosecuting medical marijuana even a minor priority. President Donald Trump promised not to interfere with people who use medical marijuana, though his administration is currently threatening to reverse this policy. About 85% of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, and it is estimated that at least several million Americans currently use it.

Marijuana without the high
Least controversial is the extract from the hemp plant known as CBD (which stands for cannabidiol) because this component of marijuana has little, if any, intoxicating properties. Marijuana itself has more than 100 active components. THC (which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical that causes the “high” that goes along with marijuana consumption. CBD-dominant strains have little or no THC, so patients report very little if any alteration in consciousness.

Patients do, however, report many benefits of CBD, from relieving insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and pain to treating potentially life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy. One particular form of childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome is almost impossible to control, but responds dramatically to a CBD-dominant strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web. The videos of this are dramatic.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

Uses of medical marijuana
The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age. Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.

In particular, marijuana appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. This is an area where few other options exist, and those that do, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are highly sedating. Patients claim that marijuana allows them to resume their previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged.

Along these lines, marijuana is said to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. I have also heard of its use quite successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.

Marijuana is also used to manage nausea and weight loss, and can be used to treat glaucoma. A highly promising area of research is its use for PTSD in veterans who are returning from combat zones. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic improvement and clamor for more studies, and for a loosening of governmental restrictions on its study. Medical marijuana is also reported to help patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

This is not intended to be an inclusive list, but rather to give a brief survey of the types of conditions for which medical marijuana can provide relief. As with all remedies, claims of effectiveness should be critically evaluated and treated with caution.

Talking with your doctor
Many patients find themselves in the situation of wanting to learn more about medical marijuana, but feel embarrassed to bring this up with their doctor. This is in part because the medical community has been, as a whole, overly dismissive of this issue. Doctors are now playing catch-up, and trying to keep ahead of their patients’ knowledge on this issue. Other patients are already using medical marijuana, but don’t know how to tell their doctors about this for fear of being chided or criticized.Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

My advice for patients is to be entirely open and honest with your physicians and to have high expectations of them. Tell them that you consider this to be part of your care and that you expect them to be educated about it, and to be able to at least point you in the direction of the information you need.

My advice for doctors is that whether you are pro, neutral, or against medical marijuana, patients are embracing it, and although we don’t have rigorous studies and “gold standard” proof of the benefits and risks of medical marijuana, we need to learn about it, be open-minded, and above all, be non-judgmental. Otherwise, our patients will seek out other, less reliable sources of information; they will continue to use it, they just won’t tell us, and there will be that much less trust and strength in our doctor-patient relationship. I often hear complaints from other doctors that there isn’t adequate evidence to recommend medical marijuana, but there is even less scientific evidence for sticking our heads in the sand. Cannabis Use In Medicine Research Paper

 

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