Studies Confirm, Again, That Cannabis Reduces Opioid Use

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

In one of our recent posts, we discussed a survey coming from New Mexico, which found 80% of the 37 respondents enrolled in a medical marijuana program reduced their opioid use, and 40% stopped opioid use to use cannabis. Now, the preliminary results from another study conducted by private research firm Aclara in Illinois supports these results. In the study involving 400 Illinois patients, 67% stopped using opioids after enrolling in the state’s medical marijuana program. Additionally, 37% stopped using all conventional medications, and 60% reduced their use of prescription drugs and reduced their trips to the pharmacy. The study also reached out to 500 pharmacists in Illinois, and found 87% thought medical cannabis should be legal, and 69% thought pharmacies should have the ability to dispense the product. Carmen Brace, founder of Aclara Research, explains, “Patients are using cannabis, successfully, to wean themselves off opioid usage.” She continues to link the results of this study to one published in the Journal of Pain in 2016, in which chronic pain patients successfully reduced opioid use by 64%.

These studies are especially important in light of the opioid crisis, in which opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed. In one analysis from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2016, states that had implemented medical marijuana programs saw 25% fewer opioid-related deaths than states that did not have such programs. All of these studies point to the suggestion that cannabis can, in fact, fight the opioid crisis. This information has been provided by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

New Research Suggests Cannabis Could Help Heart Failure Patients

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

New research led by Dr. Oluwole Adegbala, a medical resident from the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey, suggests cannabis users are less likely to experience atrial fibrillation (A-fib) than non-users. A-fib is an irregularity of the heartbeat that can exacerbate the problems associated with heart failure. The study looked at a database with over 6 million patients suffering from heart failure who were hospitalized sometime between 2007 and 2014. Of those patients, 23,000 reported cannabis use without issues of dependency, while 1,200 cannabis users were considered dependent. The data was adjusted for external factors like age, socioeconomic status, and drug use. The non-dependent cannabis users were 18% less likely than non-users to experience A-fib, and 46% less likely to die in the hospital. Dependent users were 31% less likely to develop A-fib, and 58% less likely to pass away in the hospital. The team calls for further research before recommending cannabis treatment for patients with heart failure.

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

Study Suggests Higher CBD Levels Could Counteract Any Potentially Harmful Effects of Cannabis

Photo Credit: https://bit.ly/2Rhg2Jb

Photo Credit: https://bit.ly/2Rhg2Jb

Researchers from Indiana University have found equal parts THC and CBD can prevent memory impairment and prevent increased anxiety in mice. The new study has found that higher amounts of CBD could buffer against potentially harmful long-term effects associated with smoking marijuana. In the study, researchers injected mice everyday for three weeks with doses of either THC or CBD, THC and CBD, or neither cannabinoid. When only given THC, mice experienced increased anxiety and memory impairment. When they received equal parts THC and CBD, however, they did not exhibit the same side effects. Lead author Dr. Ken Mackie explains this information "suggests that strains of cannabis with similar levels of CBD and THC would pose significantly less long-term risk due to CBD's protective effect against THC.”

The adolescent and adult mice were divided into five groups, those who received THC only, those who received CBD only, those who received equal parts of both cannabinoids, those who received placebo, and those who received no treatment. Researchers observed immediate reactions after testing, and then tested them again six weeks later. Adolescent mice who received only THC exhibited negative symptoms six weeks later, while adult mice did not, suggesting teenagers may experience side effects that differ from adults. Equal doses of THC and CBD did not affect neither adolescent nor adult mice.

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

Majority of Pain Sufferers Prefer Cannabis to Opioids, Finds New Study

Photo Credit: K-State Research and Extension / FLICKR (https://bit.ly/2wmSvJC)

Photo Credit: K-State Research and Extension / FLICKR (https://bit.ly/2wmSvJC)

In a survey conducted by HelloMD in cooperation with the University of California Berkeley and involving 3,000 medical marijuana users, researchers found 97% of respondents either agreed or agreed strongly that medical cannabis allowed them to decrease their use of opioid painkillers. In addition, 92% of respondents agreed or agreed strongly that they preferred medical cannabis as a treatment option to their traditional medications. For 81% of respondents, cannabis alone was considered more effective than combining cannabis and opioids. Chief Medical Officer of HelloMD, Dr. Perry Solomon, hopes this study will "awaken the public, medical professionals and legislatures to the fact that cannabis is a safe, non-addictive product, available to help fight the opioid epidemic.”

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

Israeli Study Exploring CBD Treatment for Autism Yielding Positive Early Results

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Early results from a new study from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, suggests CBD may be effective for children with autism. In the study, researchers gave 120 children and young adults with mild to severe autism one of two cannabis oil formulas or placebo to see if CBD could benefit the condition. While it's still too early to make any definitive conclusions about the effects of CBD on autism, lead researcher and pediatric neurologist Adi Aran says some children have already become more communicative, stopped hurting themselves or throwing tantrums, and those who could return to class had fewer behavioral problems. 

This information has been provided by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. Stay tuned for the final outcomes of this exciting study. 

The Unknown Science Behind the “Entourage Effect” of Chemicals in Marijuana

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Medical marijuana is known to produce symptom relief for a myriad of conditions and illnesses, but these effects are largely dependent on the chemical makeup of the particular strain chosen. This is because the cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis interact with each other in what has been deemed the entourage, and variations in the amount of these chemicals will produce a different effect. Many researchers believe when these compounds work together, they can enhance the therapeutic properties of cannabis and buffer against the psychoactive effects.

That said, the entourage effect is still relatively unknown due to federal scheduling that prevents significant marijuana research. Other researchers like neurobiologist and cannabis researcher Margaret Haney isn't fully convinced, and says more information is needed as to whether or not the entourage effect really exists. She explains, “The lay public has really taken on the notion of the entourage effect, but there’s not a lot of data. The cannabis field can say anything and it does. I’m not against marijuana. I want to study it carefully. We know it can affect pain and appetite but the large majority of what’s being said is driven by anecdotal marketing. These guys are really trying to make money.”

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

New Study Shows Accessible Medical Marijuana Helps Fight Opioid Addiction

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Valerie Monroy

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Valerie Monroy

According to data published in Reuters and the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, states that have adopted medical marijuana programs witnessed hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller abuse drop by 23%, and opioid overdoses dropped by an average 13%. Author of the study, Yuyan Shi, looked at hospitals in 27 states from 1997-2014, of which 9 of the states passed medical marijuana laws within that time frame. Those states that passed these laws saw a significant reduction in opioid related hospitalization. This study supports other studies that found similar results, like that of John Hopkins University in 2016 which found states with medical marijuana programs witnessed a 25% decrease in opioid-related deaths. 

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

Medical Marijuana Can Help Reduce Opioid Abuse

Opioid abuse is at an all time high, and medical marijuana's potential to help combat this epidemic is in the center of legalization and reform debates. Various studies suggest medical marijuana is effective at reducing opioid use. Last year, researchers from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found states that have implemented medical marijuana programs have an estimated 25% fewer opioid-related deaths than states that have not. Not surprisingly, another study that was published in Health Affairs found that states with medical marijuana witnessed a decrease in prescriptions of often-abused opioids.

Patients and physicians alike are noticing that medical marijuana offers symptom relief as effective to that of opioids without the threat of adverse side effects, overdose, or even death. Additionally, a review of over 10,000 medical marijuana studies dating back to 1999 found evidence supporting the use of marijuana for chronic pain. However, authors of the study, which was conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, noted the need for additional investigation of the long-term effects of marijuana use. 

This information has been provided by Merry Jane 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. 

CBD's Fight Against Addiction - Part 2

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

One study published in 2015 in Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment looked at CBD research from around the world and found CBD regulates neural circuits that are involved in drug addiction. Researchers concluded, “CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans.” Lastly, a study from the University of Kentucky's Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences that was published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior in 2013 found CBD reduced alcohol-related damage as it served as a neuroprotectant to the nervous system. In the study, researchers administered CBD to rats through topical gel applications and injections, and found both vehicles reduced alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. 

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

CBD's Fight Against Addiction - Part 1

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Various studies exist suggesting CBD may be able to treat addiction, alcohol abuse, and related illnesses. One study published in 2014 in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine found CBD administration in mice protected their livers from acute alcohol-induced steatosis, also known as "fatty liver disease." Researchers found CBD promoted the breakdown of fats and the disposal of cells damaged by alcohol. An older study from 1979 and published in Volume 66 of Psychopharmacology found those who consumed both alcohol and CBD experienced lower blood alcohol levels than those who consumed only alcohol. That being said, both situations impaired motor and psychomotor abilities. CBD alone did not produce such impairments. 

This information has been provided by Merry Jane and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this discussion tomorrow, in which we will be looking at other studies that suggest CBD may help combat addiction. 

Scientists Unravel the 'Marijuana Receptor'

One of the keys to understanding how marijuana behaves as a medicine lies in understanding receptors in the human body. Now, a team of scientists led by Dr. Raymond Stevens has drawn out the structure of the CB1 receptor in the brain, and revealed how THC binds with receptors on nerve cells in the brain. The study, which was published in Cell, found CB1 receptors are the primary target for THC binding. Stevens discusses the importance of this discovery, writing, "Now that we finally have the structure of CB1, we can start to understand how these changes to the drug structure can affect the receptor." This information could even be helpful in allowing doctors to understand the dangers and potency synthetic cannabinoids, and could boost the development of cannabinoid-based drugs for HIV and Cancer. 

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

Can Cannabis Improve Your Eyesight?

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Photo Credit: Merry Jane

Cannabis may have the ability to improve one's eyesight. One way cannabis may be able to do so is by reducing intraocular pressure (IOP). The National Eye Institute has found THC lowers IOP for three to four hours when ingested orally, sublingually, or ocularly. Researchers have also found the presence of THC receptors in the eye's tissue, and evidence that cannabinoids can save optic nerve cells through a neuroprotective mechanism. Another study from the University of Alicante in Spain found cannabinoids may slow the progression of blindness. Researchers used synthetic THC throughout tests in rats with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a genetic degenerative eye disease, and found the cannabinoid prevented further vision loss. In 90 days, rats that received the THC gained better scores on vision tests and acquired 40% more photoreceptors than those that did not. Additionally, researchers found THC protected inner layers of the retina. 

Cannabis may also help with night vision. In one study, scientists used a night vision measuring machine, a 2:1 ratio of high-grade sifted cannabis and tobacco, and a traditional sebsi pipe, and asked Moroccan fisherman to consume the concentrated herb. According to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, volunteers displayed consistent night vision improvements during testing. Jamaican fisherman have experienced similar improvements. Lastly, cannabis can impact visual processing within the brain. Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario found babies who were exposed to cannabis while in the womb had better vision, and found they could better track moving objects. That being said, cannabis may have other negative impactions on prenatal development, so cannabis is not recommended until more research exists.

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