Marijuana Use Reduces In-Hospital Mortality in Heart Failure Patients, Study Finds

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A new study published in the journal Circulation has found heart failure patients with a history of cannabis use are at lower risk of dying while hospitalized than their similarly matched controls. Looking at over six million hear failure patients over a seven-year period, investigators found patients who had a history of cannabis use were less likely to have atrial fibrillation, spent less time in the hospital, and were less likely to pass while hospitalized than non-users. Authors explain, “Our study showed that cannabis use lowered the odds of atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure… There was also reduced in-hospital mortality among patients admitted for the primary diagnosis of heart failure in DU (cannabis dependent users) and NDU (non-dependent cannabis users) which was not explained by comorbid conditions and demographic data. This study provides important opportunity to explore the preventive mechanism of cannabis on atrial fibrillation and its therapeutic potential in heart failure patients.” Previous studies have similarly reported positive correlations between patients who tested positive for marijuana and survival rates for heart related traumas.

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Study: “Substantial” Clinical Evidence Supports Medical Marijuana Claims

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Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A new literature review conducted by investigators from Harvard Medical School and New York Medical College and published in the journal Polish Archives of Internal Medicine suggests there is substantial clinical evidence supporting the claims that medical marijuana successfully treats chronic pain, pediatric epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. The researchers analyzed randomized, placebo-controlled studies and found “moderate to high” quality evidence attesting to cannabis’ abilities to treat chronic and neuropathic pain, muscle spasticity, and seizures. They also found “moderate” quality evidence that cannabis could help target HIV/AIDS and gastrointestinal disorders. As access to medical marijuana continues to increase, researchers say, “Physicians must take the same steps with these patients as they would with prescribing any other medications to ensure that medical cannabis is recommended appropriately and as safely as possible. … Cannabis is often used for recreational purposes, but this should not affect how physicians view data collected on its efficacy at treating certain medical conditions.”

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Cannabis Use Does Not Negatively Impact Survival Rates in Transplantation Subjects

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Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A new study from the University of Michigan and published in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports suggests cannabis use would not cause harm for those undergoing organ transplants. Researchers looked at how cannabis use affects transplant patients after surgery, and found, “..sStudies suggest that the overall survival rates in kidney, liver, lung, and heart transplant patients using marijuana are equivalent to non-users… Transplant teams should not de facto exclude marijuana users from transplant listing. … Appropriate stewardship over donor organs, a limited and precious resource, … require[s] a balance of high-clinical standards with inclusive efforts to treat as many patients as possible.”

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Parkinson’s Patients Report Long-Term Benefits from Medical Marijuana

Photo Credit:  Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel have found patients with Parkinson’s disease who use medical marijuana daily may experience long-term therapeutic. The retrospective assessment, which was published in Clinical Neuropharmacology, assessed the effects of daily cannabis use over the course of several months in 47 patients who suffered from the condition. Eighty-two percent of the patients experienced improved overall symptoms, specifically regarding reductions in pain, stiffness, tremors, and the likelihood of falling, while also experiencing improvements in mood and quality of sleep. Authors write, “[T]he results of our study demonstrate that most of the users had found MC (medical cannabis) to improve their condition, and that MC treatment was safe, without major side effects.”

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Study: Cannabis May Be Protective Against Liver Disease

Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

French researchers have recently determined cannabis may protect against liver disease in patients diagnosed with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In the study, which was published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis, a cohort of 838 HIV-HCV co-infected subjects were examined to determine if there was a link between cannabis use and steatosis (fatty liver disease). They concluded, “Daily cannabis use was independently associated with a reduced prevalence of steatosis” after adjusting for potential confounders. “Daily cannabis use may be a protective factor against steatosis in HIV-HCV co-infected patients.”

This information supports previous studies that have similarly determined cannabis may be beneficial for those infected with HIV/HCV. This information was originally published on the Daily Chronic, and has been approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Medical Marijuana Patients Reduce Their Prescription Drug Use, Study Finds

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

A new study conducted by researchers from DePaul University and Rush University, College of Nursing and published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Care has determined patients registered in state medical marijuana programs tend to reduce their use of prescription medications. In the study, which involved 34 registered medical marijuana patients in Illinois, respondents claimed the onset of medical cannabis relief was quicker than other medications, and they found it had fewer side effects. Most patients used medical cannabis as a replacement for opioids, anticonvulsants, anti-inflammatories, and over-the-counter analgesics. The authors explained, “[O]ur results indicate that MC (medical cannabis) may be used intentionally to taper off prescription medications. These findings align with previous research that has reported substitution or alternative use of cannabis for prescription pain medications due to concerns regarding addiction and better side-effect and symptom management, as well as complementary use to help manage side-effects of prescription medication.”

This data supports previous studies with similar findings. This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Can Lead to Decrease in Painkiller Abuse: Study

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

According to a new study conducted by a University of Georgia economics professor and published on SSRN.com, cannabis dispensaries coincide with a drop in opioid-related treatment admissions and drug mortality. The study analyzed the effect of medical cannabis dispensaries on drug treatment admissions, and found within two years of opening such businesses, there was a 20% relative decrease in painkiller treatments, and fewer drug-related deaths per 100,000 people. The author writes, “[T]he unintended beneficial effects of allowing for marijuana dispensary operations should be considered by policymakers as they aim to curtail narcotic abuse and limit the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

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Study: Trauma Patients Report Marijuana Helps Reduce Opioid Use

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Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

According to a new study from Harvard Medical School which was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, patients who experience a musculoskeletal injury can effectively relieve pain symptoms and reduce their opioid use through the use of medical cannabis. In the survey, which involved 500 patients from a pair of orthopedic outpatient clinics, 90% of patients who reported using cannabis for recuperation within the past six months effectively reduced their pain, and 81% were able to reduce their use of opioids. Authors explained, “[I]n the subset of patients who used marijuana during their recovery, a majority indicated that it helped alleviate symptoms of pain and reduced their level of opioid intake.”

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Marijuana Exposure Associated With Improved Immunity in HIV Patients

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Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

A new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence has determined patients with HIV who have tested positive for past cannabis exposure possess higher levels of CD4+ and CD8+, which are a subtype of white blood cells that can aid the immune process. Researchers from Virginia State University and the University of Florida Center for AIDS/HIV Research looked at differences in lymphocyte count among HIV patients who tested positive or negative for THC in urinalysis. Authors found, after adjusting for demographic and HIV-related covariates, those who tested positive for THC had significantly higher counts of CD4+ and CD8+. Authors conclude, “This preliminary study shows THC positive patients having better HIV-related immune levels than their negative counterparts, despite not being statistically different on various demographic HIV-related covariates. … The current findings suggest a potentially beneficial role to marijuana, additional to symptom palliation.”

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Review: Marijuana Use Associated With Reduced Mortality

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

According to a scholarly review paper published by the biology department chair at the University of Indiana, South Bend, marijuana use has the potential to reduce rates of obesity, diabetes, opioid abuse, and other conditions that contribute to premature mortality. Authors estimate 23,500 of 47,500 annual premature deaths could be prevented if marijuana was legally regulated at a nationwide scale. This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: No Link Between Cumulative Cannabis Use and Kidney Disease

Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel / Drug Policy Alliance

Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel / Drug Policy Alliance

Longitudinal data published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has determined neither current nor long-term cumulative use of cannabis contributes to kidney disease. In the study, investigators from the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco looked at the impact of past and current marijuana use over the course of ten years on estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which is a screening measurement that detects early kidney damage. Authors explained, “[O]ur findings did not demonstrate a longitudinal association between marijuana use and eGFR change, rapid eGFR decline, or prevalent albuminuria (the presence of albumin in the urine, typically as a symptom of kidney disease).”

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Topical Cannabis Preparations Associated With Reduced Opioid Use

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A series of case reports conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and published in the Journal of Pain Symptom Management has determined whole-plant cannabis extracts, when applied topically to ulcer wounds, is associated with reduced pain and opioid use in patients with leg and ankle ulcers resulting from Pyoderma Gangrenosum (PG). In all of the three patients who participated in the study, extracts containing equal parts THC and CBD effectively reduced pain and opioid utilization. Authors concluded, “This is the first case series to demonstrate the potential of TMC (topical medical cannabis) to provide effective analgesia that was opioid sparing in the setting of PG… TMC has the potential to improve pain management in patients suffering from wounds of all classes.”

A larger study is left to be desired to confirm these findings. This information has been brought to you by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.

Study: Cannabis Use May Modulate Pancreatitis Severity

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Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A study conducted by researchers at the Mercer School of Medicine and published in the journal Translational Gastroenterology and Hepatology suggests patients with a history of cannabis use have less severe symptoms of alcoholic pancreatitis (AAP) when compared to their matched controls. Researchers compared the severity of AAP in 38 patients with a history of cannabis use to 76 patients who tested negative for the substance at the time of hospital admission, and found patients who tested positive for cannabis presented less severe symptoms and were less likely to enter the ICU. Those who tested positive were matched to their controls through age, sex, and medical history. The researchers determined, “[W]e found that cannabis positive patients had less severe presentation of AAP indicating that cannabis could modulate the inflammatory effects of alcohol on the pancreas. … Further, large scale studies are needed to characterize the effect of cannabis on AP.”

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Cannabinoids Improve Speech In Patients With Tourette Syndrome

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A study published in The International Journal of Molecular Sciences has determined the daily use of cannabinoids may improve speech fluency in patients diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. Researchers from the Hannover Medical School in Germany looked at the impact of daily cannabinoid treatment in two patients with treatment-resistant vocal blocking tics, with one patient using THC-dominant whole-plant cannabis and the other using dronabinol (oral THC). Both treatments produced “significant improvement not only of simple and complex motor and vocal tics, but also in the overall symptomology including comorbid conditions and most importantly significantly improved patients’ quality of life including their social contacts and performance at school without side effects.” While this study is small, it supports previous studies that have found inhaled cannabis or oral synthetic THC improve the symptoms associated with Tourette syndrome. More research is left to be desired, but the researchers claim, “[C]annabis-based medicine appears to be effective in treatment-resistant TS patients with vocal blocking tics.”

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Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Patients Find Relief in Medical Marijuana

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Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

According to a report published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis may find relief in medical marijuana. The Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society hosted an online questionnaire in which 595 subjects responded, of which respondents claimed cannabis was effective at symptom management (6.4 on a scale from 0-7), and 59% said they were able to reduce their use of prescription medications. Respondents who identified as medical marijuana users reported lower levels of disability in memory, mood, and fatigue, when compared to non-users. This report supports the findings of previous placebo-controlled clinical trials in which cannabis effectively managed the symptoms of MS patients.

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Smoking Marijuana Doesn’t Lead to Changes in the Hippocampus, Study Finds

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Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

A new study conducted by researchers from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology has determined the regular use of cannabis by young people does not alter hippocampal volume. Investigators conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans at a baseline and a followup around 39 months later in 20 habitual cannabis users and 23 control subjects who did not use cannabis.

The authors explained, “Compared to controls, cannabis users did not show hippocampal volume alterations at either baseline or follow-up. Hippocampal volumes increased over time in both cannabis users and controls, following similar trajectories of increase. Cannabis dose and age of onset of cannabis use did not affect hippocampal volumes… Continued heavy cannabis use did not affect hippocampal neuroanatomical changes in early adulthood. … These data suggest that cannabis users show the same developmental trends as normative samples and that heavy cannabis use in this group may not necessarily interfere with hippocampal changes in neuroanatomy in early adulthood.”

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Marijuana Infused Tea is Effective in Treating Chronic Pain, Study Finds

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

A new study published in the Journal of Pain Research has determined oral cannabis is safe and effective at managing chronic pain. Using a group of 600 patients mostly over the age of 60, Italian researchers conducted a retrospective case series analysis that looked at using cannabinoids in the form of infused tea to treat intractable pain. They reported that subjects did not complain of severe side effects, and few discontinued treatment. Researchers concluded, “[I]t can be stated that the treatment seems to be effective and safe in the majority of patients.”

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Study: Cannabis Extracts Associated With Reduced ADHD Symptoms

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

According to clinical trial data published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, whole-plant cannabis extracts may be able to improve cognition and behavior in those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In the randomized and placebo-controlled study, British scientists evaluated the efficacy of cannabis extracts for 30 adults with ADHD, and found treatment improved hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, cognitive performance, activity, and emotional lability. Authors concluded, “ADHD may represent a subgroup of individuals that gain cognitive enhancement and reduction of ADHD symptoms from the use of cannabinoids. These findings provide preliminary evidence using an experimental design for the self-medication hypothesis of cannabis use in ADHD; and support the need for further research into the effects of cannabinoids on ADHD symptoms and impairments.”

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Study: Marijuana Does Not Lead to an Increase in Psychotic Symptoms

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Photo Credit: the Daily Chronic

Even as medical marijuana gains momentum as a safe an effective treatment option for a variety of symptoms, negative connotations concerning cannabis continue to exist. These connotations can produce negative stigmas and lead to fears about the outcomes of marijuana use. One such fear is that marijuana may contribute to an increase in psychotic symptoms and episodes, but now a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health states there is "minimal evidence" of any association between cannabis use alone and the onset of psychotic symptoms in young people.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry looked through a cohort of 4,171 people between the ages of 14 and 21 in order to determine if there exists a relationship between drug use and the onset of psychotic symptoms. After adjusting for potential confounders, researchers determined, "neither frequent nor early cannabis use predicted increased odds of psychosis spectrum classification... Overall, we found minimal evidence for associations between cannabis use by itself and psychosis spectrum symptoms.”

These findings are similar to those of previous studies assessing cannabis use and psychosis. This information has been provided by the Daily Chronic and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) Found to Reduce Seizure Frequency in Phase III Trial

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Photo Credit: The Daily Chronic

According to a placebo-controlled and randomized trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine, orally administered CBD reduces the frequency of seizures in children with severe forms of epilepsy. A team of researchers from the United States and England looked over the effects of pharmaceutical grade standardized CBD extracts in comparison to placebo and reported, "The median frequency of convulsive seizures per month decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 with cannabidiol, as compared with a decrease from 14.9 to 14.1 with placebo." The study involved 120 children and young adults with treatment resistant Dravet syndrome, but a subsequent study involving patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome yielded similar results.

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