Tag Archives: medical marijuana

How Cannabidiol Can Impact Your Health

Partner Blog: Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine

Written By Dr. Joanne Quinn 

The body has an endocannabinoid system which produces cannabinoids naturally. The two main innate cannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG with receptor sites throughout the body including the brain and the gut. We make our own cannabinoids during various activities like meditating, breast-feeding, or the runners high that joggers experience. When our natural endocannabinoid system is not operating normally there are symptoms which can culminate in many of the health issues listed below.

One way to bring balance to our endocannabinoid system is to supplement with plant cannabinoids found in Cannabis salvia plants including hemp and marijuana. There are many cannabinoids found in these plants with the two main ones being CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

In hemp, the CBD is more prominent and in marijuana the THC typically is more prominent. However, marijuana plants are now being cultivated to be higher in CBD as a medicinal option. In addition to the cannabinoids found in cannabis, there are terpenes, flavonoids and waxes that are synergistic when the whole plant is used. CBD as a whole plant balances this endocannabinoid system bringing back health to the body.

THC has psychoactive components making one feel high and euphoric. THC and CBD both have healing benefits but in many cases the patient wants to avoid the psychotropic effects of THC. Thus the emphasis is often on CBD.

Research is showing that CBD offers more medical applications than THC. There are a tremendous number of conditions that research shows are helped with CBD. A quick search on PubMed will bring up studies confirming this. Conditions that were studied with favorable results include:

  1. Acne
  2. ADD and ADHD
  3. Addiction
  4. AIDS
  5. ALS
  6. Alzheimer’s disease
  7. Anorexia
  8. Antibiotic resistance
  9. Anxiety
  10. Atherosclerosis
  11. Arthritis
  12. Asthma
  13. Autism
  14. Bipolar disorder
  15. Cancer
  16. Colitis and Crohn’s
  17. Depression
  18. Diabetes
  19. Endocrine disorders
  20. Epilepsy and Seizures
  21. Fibromyalgia
  22. Glaucoma
  23. Heart disease
  24. Huntington’s disease
  25. Inflammation
  26. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  27. Kidney disease
  28. Liver disease
  29. Mad Cow disease
  30. Metabolic syndrome
  31. Migraine
  32. Mood disorders
  33. Motion sickness
  34. MS
  35. Nausea
  36. Neurodegeneration
  37. Neuropathic pain
  38. Obesity
  39. OCD
  40. Osteoporosis
  41. Parkinson’s disease
  42. PTSD
  43. Rheumatism
  44. Schizophrenia
  45. Sickle Cell Anemia
  46. Skin conditions
  47. Sleep disorders
  48. Spinal Cord Injury
  49. Stress
  50. Stroke and TBI

It is apparent the applications for CBD are numerous and broad scoped. One area of investigation by the US government included oxidative associated diseases, such as ischemia (including stroke), inflammation, autoimmune issues, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and other age related diseases. This research found that CBD was neuroprotective.

One of the more famous cases that brought CBD into the limelight was Charlotte Figi. She suffered from a rare form of epilepsy. After five years of trying every treatment doctors could think of, her condition continued to deteriorate. Her father found research that marijuana had helped other cases. They needed a strain of marijuana that was high in CBD and low in THC. This was no easy task but they finally found a source in Colorado. Charlotte’s condition improved immediately. She went from 300 seizures a week to not having any seizures in the first week of treatment. It was remarkable and life-saving for Charlotte.

In 2013 Dr. Sanjay Gupta produced a documentary for CNN called Weed. This documentary has three parts and is listed by title Weed in the videos section of the FAIM website. It is a two hour piece that gives the history of hemp and marijuana and insightful information on the pros and cons of both. Dr. Gupta has now produced Weed 4 which explains how cannabinoids can help people with opioid addiction.

CBD has a physiological impact on the body by upregulating the genes that help calm inflammation and down regulating the genes that promote inflammation. CBD causes a balancing cascade throughout the central nervous system, immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and lymphatic system. CBD, when taken as a nutritional supplement, participates in this endocannabinoid system bringing balance to the body.

CBDs help the body counteract the insult from toxins we experience daily from chemicals, bacteria, fungus, viruses and endotoxins in the gut. Inflammation from these toxins cause a large variety of diseases as well as inflammatory conditions in the central nervous system affecting the brain. This is why CBD has such great success in treating so many diseases.

There are many companies that are producing and marketing CBD so it is important to determine the quality prior to purchasing. If you decide CBD could be helpful for your health, research the company carefully to ensure you are getting a high quality CBD. All reputable companies should do lab testing on their products and it is the consumer’s right to request these test results.

Medical Marijuana Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

As state legislatures continue to legalize medicinal marijuana, both healthcare practitioners and patients alike are beginning to embrace cannabis as a potential treatment for an array of chronic diseases and disorders. Cannabis is rapidly becoming an accepted and even preferred form of treatment, most commonly used for chronic pain management.  Patients whose symptoms require highly sedative medications such as opiates are progressively reaching for clinical cannabis in hopes of evading unwanted side effects and returning to normal functioning.

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Applications of Clinical Cannabis in Medicine

As clinical cannabis is rapidly becoming accepted as a treatment for an array of chronic diseases and disorders, there is a growing and pressing need for clinical education surrounding medical marijuana—and alternative treatments for pain control. The use and acceptance of medical cannabis continues to evolve, as demonstrated by the growing number of states that now permit its use and applications for specific medical indications. 

While the marijuana plant contains over 100 different chemicals—or cannabinoids—each one produces a different effect on the body. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was originally identified by Raphael Mechoulam, who later also described and named anandamide: a naturally occurring endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter that binds to cannabinoid receptors. The human endocannabinoid system is a biological system involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes, including appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, fertility, etc. The CB1 receptor (THC) occurs in the central and peripheral nervous system, while the CB2 receptor is located on immune cells, and the peripheral nervous system. Cannabidiol (CBD) does not have the psychotropic effects of THC, nor does it have the memory impairment or appetite effects; the two main chemicals used in medicine are THC and CBD.

The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control: while marijuana is not strong enough for severe pain (i.e. post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is said to be highly effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, particularly as they age. Part of its attraction is that it is clearly safer than opiates—almost impossible to overdose, and far less addictive—and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, if people cannot take them due to problems with kidneys, ulcers, or GERD.

Marijuana specifically appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. This is an area in which few other options exist; moreover, 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 drugged or disengaged. Marijuana is also said to be a highly effective muscle relaxant; many users swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. Other successful clinical applications include fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.

Further users of marijuana include management of nausea and weight loss, and treatment for glaucoma. A highly promising area of research is its use for PTSD in veterans who return from combat zones. Many veterans and respective therapists have reported drastic improvements, recommending more research and studies, and 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.

Despite lingering controversy, use of botanical cannabis for medicinal purposes represents the revival of a plant with historical significance reemerging in today’s healthcare system. Legislation governing use of medicinal cannabis continues to change quickly, necessitating that pharmacists and other clinicians stay abreast of state regulations and institutional implications. Ultimately, as the medicinal cannabis landscape continues to evolve, hospitals, acute care facilities, clinics, hospices, and long-term care centers must consider the implications, address logistical concerns, and explore the feasibility of permitting patient access to this treatment.

Senior Vice-President of A4M/MMI Joseph Maroon, MD—Clinical Professor and Vice Chairman in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and expert in clinical cannabis therapies—has published a white paper on the neurological benefits of cannabinoids.