Study: Medical Marijuana Patients Reduce Their Use of Opioids

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Yet another study has suggested patients who have access to medical marijuana are more likely to choose it over prescription medications. The study, which was published in The International Journal of Drug Policy, involved 277 patients registered the Canadian government's medical marijuana program. Researchers from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia looked at the use of medical marijuana and prescription medications, and found 63% of participants swapped their prescription medications with cannabis. Out of those patients, 32% substituted cannabis for opioids, 16% for benzodiazepines, and 12% for anti-depressants. Patients reasoned cannabis was safer, provided better symptom management, and resulted in fewer side effects.

Authors of the study wrote, “The finding that patients using cannabis to treat pain-related conditions have a higher rate of substitution for opioids, and that patients self-reporting mental health issues have a higher rate of substitution for benzodiazepines and antidepressants has significant public health implications. In light of the growing rate of morbidity and mortality associated with these prescription medications, cannabis could play a significant role in reducing the health burden of problematic prescription drug use.”

This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Medical Marijuana for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) consists of a group of progressive inflammatory lung diseases that interrupts airflow and makes it difficult to breathe. The condition can lead to the development of emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and can increase the risk of respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, high blood pressure, and depression. Symptoms include coughing up mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. Because of cannabis' anti-inflammatory effects, it could be beneficial for COPD treatment. Some studies show cannabis has the ability to manage acute attacks of airway constriction resulting from inflammation.

Both CBD and THC interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in order to reduce airway inflammation, and one animal study has found CBD not only reduces inflammation, but also improves lung function. Another study suggested CBD has anti-inflammatory effects following lung injury. Even cannabis' terpenes contain anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, cannabis acts as a bronchodilator, which helps to decrease resistance in the airways and support airflow. This could be because the CB1 receptor, upon activation, prevents contraction of the smooth muscle surrounding the lungs, which helps to dilate the bronchial tubes and thereby open the airways. While this information is useful, patients should remember that smoking combusted marijuana could only add to lung damage. Patients may want to opt for one of the many vehicles that does not involve smoking.  

This information has been brought to you by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Medical Marijuana for Psoriasis

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder that causes dry, flaky, and red rashes, and at times leads to psoriatic arthritis. It is believed that autoimmune disorders may be the result of a disruption in the endocannabinoid system, so it is plausible that the cannabinoids found in cannabis may be able to counteract this disruption in order to help better manage psoriasis. Studies suggest when cannabinoids interact with CB2 receptors, they are able to prevent psoriasis flare-ups. Additionally, their anti-inflammatory effects and ability to regulate the immune system could prove beneficial for psoriasis therapy. Other studies have found cannabinoids can manage proliferation of skin cells, and cannabinoid receptors regulate T cell activity. Lastly, THC, CBD, CBN, and CBG are all cannabinoids that inhibit overactive T cells, making them important for psoriasis therapy. 

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and provided by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Cannabis Extract May Improve Survival Rates in Glioma Patients

Photo Credit: Wikimedia/Mikhail Kalinin

Photo Credit: Wikimedia/Mikhail Kalinin

Clinical trial data published by GW Pharmaceuticals suggests patients with brain tumors who are treated with cannabis extracts may increase their survival rates by a year in comparison to those who do not receive this treatment. Of the 21 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme who were undergoing conventional anti-cancer treatments, some received a cannabis extract with both THC and CBD while others received placebo. The company stated in a press release, “[P]atients with documented recurrent GBM treated with THC:CBD had an 83 percent one year survival rate compared with 53 percent for patients in the placebo cohort... Median survival for the THC:CBD group was greater than 550 days compared with 369 days in the placebo group.”

Although these findings support other preclinical data suggesting a combination of cannabinoids and temozolomide is more effective in treating cancer than traditional therapies alone, we would like to see larger thorough clinical trials to confirm this data. This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Is CBD the Answer to America’s Opioid Epidemic?

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc. 

Yet another research review suggests CBD could help those suffering opioid addiction by reducing cravings and relieving withdrawal symptoms. For this review, which was published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience, the Director of the Center for Addictive Disorders for the Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System Yasmin L. Hurd, PhD, looked over animal studies and human pilot studies. Dr. Hurd says, “If you look at both drugs and where their receptors are, opioids are much more dangerous in part because of the potential for overdose. The opioid receptors are very abundant in the brainstem area that regulates our respiration so they shut down the breathing center if opioid doses are high... Cannabinoids do not do that. They have a much wider window of therapeutic benefit without causing an overdose in adults.”

Dr. Hurd is now running a larger clinical trial to investigate whether or not cannabis can help those addicted to opioids. She hopes her findings will encourage doctors to recommend cannabis, which has a much higher safety profile, over opioids to patients with chronic pain. She also hopes the bars that have been blocking adequate marijuana research will be lifted so that the findings can guide future medical recommendations and legalization policies. She says, “For one of the first times in U.S. history, it is the general public and politicians, not scientists and physicians, who are determining the medical value of this drug in states where marijuana use has been legalized for medical purposes. Clearly, the legalization of marijuana has outpaced the science. But if we want to be able to accurately say something is medical marijuana, we have to prove that it is, indeed, medicinal.”

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

GW Pharmaceuticals Shows Cannabis Effective Against Cancer

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

The pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals has been testing a cannabis-based medication for a few years, and now they've announced their findings have proven the medication is effective in reducing the mortality rate of patients with glioblastoma multiforme, a brain cancer. Symptoms of the illness range from headaches to personality changes, and many diagnosed with it are only expected to live less than two years, but GW Pharmaceuticals suspects their medication is helping to expand this lifespan. CEO Justin Gover says, "We believe that the signals of efficacy demonstrated in this study further reinforce the potential role of cannabinoids in the field of oncology and provide GW with the prospect of a new and distinct cannabinoid product candidate in the treatment of glioma."

The results of the study, however, do not suggest that the cannabinoids are alone responsible for these results. In the trial phase, patients were given a combination of THC and CBD to supplement an oral chemotherapy drug called Temozolomide. Of the patients who received this mixture, 83% experienced a one-year survival rate, a large difference from the 53% survival rate of patients given placebo. 

This information has been provided by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

A neurobiologist says medical marijuana could solve the US opioid abuse crisis

Photo Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante

Photo Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante

Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscience, psychiatry, and pharmacology professor at Mount Sinai Hospital's medical school in New York, believes medical marijuana could have a significant impact on combatting the opioid epidemic. She recently wrote, "Epidemics require a paradigm shift in thinking about all possible solutions. The rapidly changing sociopolitical marijuana landscape provides a foundation for the therapeutic development of medicinal cannabidiol to address the current opioid abuse crisis. We have to be open to marijuana because there are components of the plant that seem to have therapeutic properties, but without empirical-based research or clinical trials, we’re letting anecdotes guide how people vote and policies."

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can offer analgesic relief without risk of addiction or producing harmful side effects. Animal research shows CBD interacts with different endocannabinoid receptors so that it not only reduces pain, but that it also reduces opioid cravings for weeks after ingestion. Hurd explains, “Preclinical animal models have long demonstrated that, in addition to reducing the rewarding properties of opioid drugs and withdrawal symptoms, CBD directly reduces heroin-seeking behavior.” While this information could be groundbreaking in the fight against opioid addiction, more research is necessary in order to determine whether or not the results from this animal trial could translate similarly to human behaviors. 

This information has been provided by Quartz and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Some Symptoms Marijuana Alleviates

Photo: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Even when medical marijuana doesn't treat the root cause of a disorder, the medication can be extremely helpful in alleviating symptoms of the disorder or the side effects of its traditional treatments. Patients who suffer from cancer of HIV/AIDS can benefit from medical marijuana through its reduction of the nausea and vomiting that coincides with their treatment methods. Medical marijuana can also offer a viable alternative to opioid painkillers. Their analgesic properties produce effective pain relief without the risk of addiction or harmful side effects. A variety of illnesses and side effects often cause patients to suffer from insomnia, but medical marijuana may be able to help by inducing sleep, and enhancing the quality and length of sleep.

This information has been brought to you in part by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Clinical Trial: THCV Lowers Blood Sugar Levels In Type 2 Diabetics

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Data published in the journal Diabetes Care suggests THCV is positively associated with glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. In the randomized and placebo-controlled study, investigators from the University of Nottingham, School of Medicine administered placebo or different cannabinoids, like CBD, THCV, or a combination of the two, twice a day over the course of 13 weeks to 62 non-insulin dependent participants with Type 2 diabetes. THCV alone decreased fasting plasma glucose levels and improved pancreatic cell function. Other treatments offered undistinguishable metabolic effects. The study concluded, “THCV could represent a new therapeutic agent in glycemic control in subjects with type 2 diabetes.”

This information has been brought to you by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Cannabis Use Alone Does Not Contribute to the Risk of Stroke, Study Finds

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

A team of researchers from Sweden and France have determined marijuana use alone does not increase stroke risk for adults under 60. The population-based study gave two detailed questionnaires, one regarding substance use and the other on social and behavioral factors, to 49,321 Swedish men who were born between 1949 and 1951 and then drafted into the military between ages 18 and 20. The researchers, lead by Daniel Falkstedt, PhD, then compared their findings with information from the national database about any stroke events that the participants experienced before age 60. 

The study, which was published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, concluded, “[B]y examining cannabis use in young adulthood in relation to subsequent risk of stroke in a large population-based cohort, we found no evident association between cannabis use and stroke, including stroke before 45 years of age... Tobacco smoking, however, showed a clear, dose-response shaped association with stroke.”

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Study: CBD Might Treat PTSD and Specific Phobias

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

A new study led by Chenchen Song at the University of Birmingham and published by Frontiers in Pharmacology found CBD provides both acute and long-term effects to reduce fear memory, something that could be beneficial for treating PTSD and certain phobias. Using an animal model, researches injected rats with 10mg CBD and found it reduced freeze behavior of rats that had been expose to strong fear conditioning. This freeze response is the common reaction to fear when near prey animals, but rats were less likely to be fearful under the same conditions at a later date when they had been given CBD. In comparison, some rats were given MK-801, a N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor agonist which impairs the extinction of fear, and other rats were given D-cycloserine, a partial agonist which neither increase or decreases freezing.

The study also found that while CBD reduced freezing significantly for rats who had undergone strong fear conditioning, it actually impaired fear extinction in rats that had only undergone weak fear conditioning. Discussion of the research reads, “In the more translationally-relevant stronger conditioning setting, CBD both acutely inhibited fear expression and enhanced extinction to produce longer lasting reductions in fear... These observations provide further support for the potential translational use of CBD in conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and specific phobias.”

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. Read the study here.

Study: Cannabis Could Be a Non-Addictive Treatment for Chronic Pain

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

A study from Oregon Health and Science University and published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests the chemicals in cannabis could effectively treat chronic pain without the addictive side effects that traditional opioids would produce. Opioids are traditionally prescribed to treat pain, but they carry the risk of addiction, abuse, and overdose which can be fatal. Cannabis, on the other hand, could be a much safer alternative options as it has been found to reduce various types of pain, including those that are resistant to traditional treatment methods, without posing the same risks as opioids.

In this new study, lead researchers Ming-Hua Li, Katherine L. Suchland, and Susan L. Ingram used a rodent model to analyze the interactions between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. When it comes to chronic inflammatory pain, Ingram said, “We found that CB1 receptors — the receptor that is associated with addictive properties of the drug — are decreased. But that CB2 receptor activity is increased. Cannabis actually activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors equally. But it’s known that CB2 receptors can decrease pain.” These findings suggest cannabis could reduce pain while limiting tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Researchers concluded cannabis's analgesic properties could provide a new pain management therapy with much fewer side effects.

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can also read text from the study here

3 Pain Conditions Medicinal Marijuana Can Treat

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

For those who suffer from debilitating pain and want a safe option for relief, they may want to look to medical marijuana for pain relief without the addictive or harmful side effects of opioids. Medical marijuana can treat a wide range of pain conditions, including the pain caused by HIV/AIDS and cancer treatments, chronic pain, and pain caused by damaged nervous systems. Cannabidiol and delta-9-THC are already used in an oral spray called Sativex that is used to relieve severe cancer pain. Along with cancer patients, cannabis can also help HIV/AIDS patients by relieving pain, nausea, and increase appetite, and improving overall quality of life. In these cases, cannabis should not replace traditional treatment methods, but rather supplement them.

Patients who suffer from chronic pain can also benefit from cannabis use, and studies have found test subjects who take daily doses of medical marijuana report no ill-effects on their kidneys, livers, or hormonal function. They also report that cannabis is a successful treatment even when conventional therapies fail. Patients who suffer from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other debilitating disorders could benefit from medical cannabis. Lastly, cannabis helps those who suffer from pain in their central nervous system by treating the pain itself, but also by targeting other symptoms like sleep and anxiety.

This information has been provided by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Marijuana Use Linked to Lower Risk of Heart Failure, Cardiac Disease, and In-Hospital Mortality, Study Finds

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

A multivariable adjusted study published by Cancer Medicine suggests hospitalized patients who test positive for marijuana have a lower risk of heart failure, cardiac disease, or in-hospitality mortality. Researchers from the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, and the University of Alabama analyzed the relationship between cannabis use and health outcomes in a nationwide sample involving 3.9 million patients over the course of 4 years. Of the patients examined, 387,608 were marijuana users. They found patients who tested positive for marijuana were at lower risk of heart failure and cardiac disease, and while they also were at higher risk of experiencing a stroke, they were more likely to survive that event. 

Researchers wrote, “The odds of in-hospital mortality were significantly reduced among marijuana users compared with non-users overall, and among cancer patients.” They concluded that more research is necessary, but that these results are especially positive for certain populations. Researcher wrote, “Larger prospective studies with objective measures of marijuana use and health outcomes will be needed to better examine these associations. Nevertheless, these findings provide information suggesting that marijuana use is negatively associated with certain health outcomes that may be important for older, sicker population groups.”

This information has been brought to you by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can also read text from the study here

Does Marijuana Harm the Lungs?

Photo Credit: Lee Health | Vimeo | http://bit.ly/2fKidTC

Photo Credit: Lee Health | Vimeo | http://bit.ly/2fKidTC

The findings from a recent long term study conducted by a team of researchers at UCLA under Donald Tashkin suggest there is no link between marijuana use and respiratory ailments like lung cancer or COPD. Those who used marijuana for a long period of time did not face an increased risk for breathing problems, and researchers suggest cannabis might even provide protective properties. 

Another study found lungs exposed to marijuana were not compromised when it comes to transplanting them. A study in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery looked at the results of 302 lung transplants over the course of 6 years, and found there were no appreciable intra-operable or post-operable differences in short and medium-term outcomes between the 19 donors who had smoked marijuana and the 283 donors who had not. The survival rate of lungs exposed to marijuana and unexposed lungs had the same chance of survival for 1-3 year periods. 

This information has been provided by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Cannabis For Treating Multiple Sclerosis

Photo Credit: Gjbmiller / Pixabay

Photo Credit: Gjbmiller / Pixabay

New research coming from Colorado State University's Integrative Neurophysiology Laboratory suggests cannabis helps multiple sclerosis patients improve their activity levels, strength, speed, and reduce fatigue. The Rocky Mountain MS Center claims 550 people in Colorado suffer from MS, making it the highest proportion of MS patients in the US and a great area to study therapies for MS symptoms. In this new observational study, Colorado State University's research team involved MS patients who were already using medial marijuana as a therapy. The lab surveyed 139 MS patients and categorized the types of cannabis-based products they used, how often they used the products, and for how long they used the products. They then found 66% currently used a form of cannabis for treatment, and 56% either smoked the medication or consumed edibles. 78% of cannabis users claimed the medication allowed them to reduce or stop use of other medications. Preliminary results suggest cannabis increases physical activity levels, leg strength, walking speed, reduces spasticity and fatigue, and lowers the risk of falling. 

The lab hopes to continue its observational research on cannabis for MS symptoms, looking into its effects on physical function and activity levels. They also want to better understand what strains, dose, and vehicle provide the best therapeutic relief. This information has been provided by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.  

Marijuana 101: Understanding the Parts of the Cannabis Plant

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

Photo Credit: Medicinal Marijuana Association

It is extremely important that medical marijuana patients understand the chemical makeup of their medical marijuana strains. Because the composition of therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes vary from strain to strain, the efficacy of their symptom relief can vary widely as well. The cannabinoids THC is responsible for producing psychoactive effects. THC can also stimulate appetite and reduce nausea, making high-THC strains useful for HIV/AIDS and cancer patients. CBD, on the other hand, is a cannabinoid that can produce symptom relief without psychoactive side effects. CBD is thought to help in a wide range of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and epilepsy.  

Finding this information isn't necessarily easy. Many dispensaries still neglect to provide lab testing for their marijuana products, and when they do the testing can be inaccurate. Strains from one provider may have a different chemical makeup than strains of the same name from another provider, so without testing there is no way of knowing if it will have the same effect. We believe this information is necessary in ultimately finding the perfect dosing regimen. If you have access to this information, keep track of it in your journal so that you can easily look back and see what has been successful and what has not.

This information has been provided in part by the Medicinal Marijuana Association and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Can Cannabis Benefit PTSD?

Photo Credit: Getty

Photo Credit: Getty

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that results from some sort of traumatic event. Those who suffer PTSD may experience hyperarousal with insomnia, isolation, flashbacks, avoidance, and anxiety. They also exhibit dissociative behaviors or arousal, and/or emotional or dysphoric symptoms. Because the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating neurobiological pathways, it is thought that targeting its receptors may benefit those who suffer from PTSD. Additionally, activating the cannabinoid receptors in the prefrontal complex could elicit antidepressant effects. Because the cannabinoids in medical marijuana are able to activate the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannnabinoid system, it is able to provide antidepressant effects which would make the medication useful for mood disorders, suicidal behaviors, and PTSD. A report from New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program for PTSD found patients experienced reduced frequency, severity of, and even complete cessation of suicidal behaviors.

When the body suffers endocannabinoid deficiency and impaired CB1 signaling, the body has a more difficult time managing fear extinction and forgetting negative memories, making it more prone to anxiety and triggering flashbacks. Cannabis' phytocannabinoids can replenish endocannabinoid deficiency. A Brazilian study found THC can attenuate fear memories, and that a combination of THC and CBD could relieve PTSD symptoms with very minimal side effects. Another pre-clinical study found cannabis influences the nucleus accumbens VTA circuit of the mesolimbic system, which allows it to exhibit positive neuronal and behavioral effects and prevent negative associative memories from forming. An experimental animal study exposed mice to an electric maze, and then found mice treated with CBD were less likely to experience fear and exhibited less stress when nearing this maze. 

This information has been provided by Marijuana Times and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Smoking Marijuana Not Associated With Weight Gain in Later Life

Photo Credit: SPLIFFYARMBROOSTER via Reddit

Photo Credit: SPLIFFYARMBROOSTER via Reddit

Until recently, cannabis has never had a good reputation when it comes to obesity and weight gain. Mounting evidence shows cannabis is not associated with an overweight body mass index, and there is now a new piece of research to add to this list. In a longitudinal study from Denmark that surveyed adolescents aged 15-19, and then surveyed participants again 20 years later, researchers took into account marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use, along with height, weight, physical activity, and other confounding factors. After adjusting for factors like tobacco and alcohol use, and exercise, they found participants who smoked marijuana were not more likely to gain weight later in life than those who did not. They also found those who began smoking as adolescents actually had the smallest increase in BMI.

While these results are promising, the study was not perfect. Thousands of participants dropped out of the study between the initial survey and the followup survey, and the study relied on trusting participants to self-report truthful data. That being said, researchers noted survey takes tend to under-report the amount of cannabis they consume, which could mask an inverse relationship between smoking cannabis and BMI. Additionally, there are several other studies that report similar findings. 

This information has been provided by High Times Magazine and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.