By: Marco Torres
The reason cannabis is so effective medicinally is directly related to its ability to interact with receptors in the body which inhibit inflammation and prevent disease. Cannabis does this so well, that few drugs can compete with its level of potency which come essentially with no side effects. These are just 5 diseases that are proven to respond better to cannabis than to drugs, however, there are many studies currently being conducted that may prove dozens more.
Many researchers have noted that there was “inadequate” data for decaded to determine whether smoked marijuana was safe or effective in treating symptoms of pain and preventing disese. The primary reason for the s lack of data had to do with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, which was the only source of cannabis for research and they were blocking the most meaningful studies due to close ties with pharmaceutical companies.
This view was supported by Dr. David Bearman, the executive vice president for the Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine/Society of Cannabis Clinicians. “Part of the problem in the United States is that the NIDA has blocked almost all meaningful studies on cannabis,” Bearman said. Bearman argues that while synthetic cannabis pills do offer pain relief, marijuana is cheaper, has fewer side effects and can be more effective.
Now decades of propaganda is being reversed as scientists and the public are being exposed to the true potential of cannabis and its ability to both heal and prevent disease.
Noting cannabis’ vastly superior side effect profile DEA Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young, after a two-year hearing to reschedule cannabis in 1998 said:
“Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality… In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume … Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the
safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”
5 DISEASES PROVEN TO RESPOND BETTER TO CANNABIS THAN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Cannabinoids, the active components of marijuana, inhibit tumor growth and also kill cancer cells. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent (or cannabinoid) of the cannabis plant, targets cannabinoid receptors similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors.
Researchers have now found that cannabidiol has the ability to ‘switch off’ the gene responsible for metastasis in an aggressive form of cancer. Importantly, this substance does not produce the psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant.
A Spanish team, led by Dr Manuel Guzmon, wanted to see whether they could prevent a form of cancer (glioblastoma multiforme) from growing by cutting off its blood supply. Glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most difficult cancers to treat – it seldom responds to any medical intervention, especially conventional methods which poisoning and primatively destroy cells such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
Genes associated with blood vessel growth in tumors through the production of a chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have their activity reduced when exposed to cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids halt VEGF production by producing Ceramide. Ceramide controls cell death.
Dr Manuel Guzmon tested a cannabinoid solution of patients had glioblastoma multiforme and had not responded to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. The scientists took samples from them before and after treating them with a cannabinoids solution – this was administered directly into the tumor.
Amazingly, both patients experienced reduced VEGF levels in the tumor as a result of treatment with cannabinoids.
A study published in the July 2002 edition of the medical journal Blood, which found that THC and some other cannabinoids produced “programmed cell death” in different varieties of human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines, thereby destroying the cancerous cells but leaving other cells unharmed.
A study published in a 1975 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which showed that THC slowed the growth of lung cancer, breast cancer and virus-induced leukemia in rats.
Titled Antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids, this study was funded by the US National Institute of Health, and performed by researchers at the Medical College of Virginia. Despite the promising results, no further research was made, and the study has essentially disappeared from the scientific literature.
A 1994 study, which documented that THC may protect against malignant cancers, and which was buried by the US government. The $2 million study, funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, sought to show that large doses of THC produced cancer in rats. Instead, researchers found that massive doses of THC had a positive effect, actually slowing the growth of stomach cancers. The rats given THC lived longer than their non-exposed counterparts.
he study was unpublished and the results hidden for almost three years, until it was finally leaked to the media in 1997. (CC#17, THC for tumors).
2. Fibromyalgia (FM)
More and more patients with FM are finding effective relief from cannabis.
So say the results of a recent online survey of over 1,300 subjects conducted by The National Pain Foundation and NationalPainReport.com. Among those surveyed, 379 subjects said that they had used cannabis therapeutically. Sixty-two percent of them rated the substance to be “very effective” in the treatment of their condition.
By comparison, among those FM patients who had used Cymbalta (Duloxene), only eight percent rated the drug as “very effective,” and 60 percent said it did “not work at all.” Among those who had used Lyrica (Pregabalin), ten percent said that drug was “very effective,” versus 61 percent who reported no relief. Among those who had used Savella (Milnacipran), ten percent rated the drug as effective, and 68 percent said it was ineffective.
Commenting on the survey results, Dr. Mark Ware — associate professor in family medicine and anesthesia at McGill University in Montreal — told the National Pain Report, “We desperately need someone to step up and explore this potential for the efficacy of cannabis.”
Ware, whose own clinical research has demonstrated inhaled pot’s efficacy in subjects with hard-to-treat refractory pain, added: “The scientific rationale is there. There are some early preliminary, proof-of-concept clinical trials that demonstrate cannabis may be effective. Now your study adds additional weight that patients are reporting that cannabis may be better than the existing therapies. I think that this really should provide incentives for researchers to take a hard look at clinical trials to really explore that in much more detail.”
Some investigators already have. In 2006, German scientists reported that the administration of oral THC significantly reduced both chronic and experimentally induced pain in patients with fibromyalgia. Subjects in the trial were administered daily doses of 2.5 to 15 mg of THC, but received no other pain medication during the study. Among those participants who completed the trial, all reported significant reductions in daily pain and electronically induced pain.
More recently, Spanish researchers assessed the use of cannabis treatment of Fibromyalgia. A cursory review of the results indicates why so many FM patients are preferring pot over pills.
Investigators reported, “The use of cannabis was associated with beneficial effects on some FM symptoms. … After two hours of cannabis use, VAS (visual analogue scales) scores showed a statistically significant reduction of pain and stiffness, enhancement of relaxation, and an increase in somnolence and feeling of well being.”
By far the most common approach to treating epilepsy is to prescribe antiepileptic drugs. Commonly prescribed drugs include clonazepam, phenobarbital, and primidone. Some relatively new epilepsy drugs includetiagabine, gabapentin, topiramate, levetiracetam, and felbamate. Many medications amplify side effects such as fatigue and decreased appetite. Epilepsy medication also may predispose people to developing depression or psychoses.
Several lines of evidence now suggest that cannabinoid compounds are anticonvulsant and empirical evidence in many children is establishing conclusive evidence that cannabinoid therapy may be the most effective treatment available for epileptics.
In “The Endogenous Cannabinoid System Regulates Seizure Frequency and Duration in a Model of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy”, Robyn Wallace explained that the data not only shows the anticonvulsant activity of exogenously applied cannabinoids but also suggests that endogenous cannabinoid tone modulates seizure termination and duration through activation of the CB1 receptor. By demonstrating a role for the endogenous cannabinoid system in regulating seizure activity, these studies define a role for the endogenous cannabinoid system in modulating neuroexcitation. The endogenous cannabinoid system thus provides on-demand protection against acute excitotoxicity in central nervous system neurons.
Anti-convulsant drugs have potentially serious side-effects, including bone softening, reduced production of red blood cells, swelling of the gums, and emotional disturbances. Other occasional effects include uncontrollable rapid eye movements, loss of motor co-ordination, coma and even death. In addition, these medications are far from ideal in that they only completely stop seizures in about 60% of patients.
Large amounts of anecdotal reports and patient case studies indicate the assistance of cannabis in controlling seizures. Cannabis analogues have been shown to prevent seizures. Patients report that they can wean themselves off prescription drugs, and still not experience seizures if they have a regular supply of cannabis.
The British company, GW Pharmaceuticals pursued advanced clinical trials for the world’s first pharmaceutical developed from raw marijuana instead of synthetic equivalents. In response to urgent need expressed by parents of children with intractable epilepsy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now allowing Investigational studies of purified CBD (cannabidiol) for seizures.
Ben Whalley and colleagues at the Center for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics, University of Reading, using mouse models of epilepsy, established safety and showed that CBD and another cannabinoid, CBDV, exert anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory effects. This research came to the attention of families in the US who had loved ones with epilepsy.
The British Medical Association has stated that cannabis may prove useful as an ‘adjunctive therapy’ for patients who cannot be kept satisfactorily free of seizures on current medications. Likewise, the National Institutes of Health workshop considered that this is ‘an area of potential value’, based largely on animal research showing anticonvulsant effects.
Charlotte’s Web is a sativa marijuana strain that has gained popularity as a good option for treating seizures as well as a range of other medical conditions. This medical potency is due to its high-CBD content, which was specifically cultivated by Colorado breeders The Stanley Brothers for a young epileptic patient named Charlotte. This strain is effective with little to no psychoactive effects, making it great for those who don’t want their medication to affect their daily tasks.
4. Multiple Sclerosis
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has alerted the public that patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) have developed serious brain infections after taking the drug Gilenya (fingolimod).
Other drugs like Tysabri are antibody treatments designed to block certain white blood cells that cause MS when they attack nerves. the problem is they have a history of also making patients vulnerable to infection. Biogen and Elan yanked theirs off the market after two cases of the brain disease were confirmed among patients taking the drug; a month later, a third case was confirmed. The FDA allowed the drug to return to the market in July 2006 after they stated benefits outweighed the risks, no doubt with some help from Big Pharma.
GW received government approval in 1998 to develop cannabis-based plant extracts. Their flagship product Sativex is a highly defined extract containing an approximately 50-50 mix of CBD and THC that has been approved by regulators in the UK and more than 20 other countries for treating pain and spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis.
Some forms of medical marijuana are proven to alleviate certain symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to guidelines published in the journal Neurology.
In a review of 2,608 studies, the researchers were able to assess which therapies had sufficient evidence to indicate that they may be effective for patients with MS. Overall, researchers discovered that certain forms of medical marijuana — a spray form and a pill form — appeared to have the most evidence indicating they may be helpful in patients with MS.
“What we learned are these specific forms of medical marijuana can ease patients’ symptoms — specific symptoms of spasticity, or muscle stiffness … and helped with frequent urination,”according to study author Dr. Pushpa Narayanaswami.
In a 2011 study, Israeli researchers showed that CBD helps treat MS-like symptomsby preventing immune cells from transforming and attacking the insulating covers of nerve cells in the spinal cord. After inducing an MS-like condition in mice — partially paralyzing their limbs — the researchers injected them with CBD. The mice responded by regaining movement, first twitching their tails and then beginning to walk without a limp. The researchers noted that the mice treated with CBD had much less inflammation in the spinal cord than their untreated counterparts.
In another study in Neuroscience researchers used experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of MS, and found that cannabinoids reduced microglia activation, nitrotyrosine formation, T cell infiltration, oligodendrocyte toxicity, myelin loss and axonal damage in the mouse spinal cord white matter and alleviated the clinical scores when given either before or after disease onset.
The normal course of treatment for a child diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, is a course of methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin. For the child diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, the side effects of using Ritalin, are many, including psychosis (abnormal thinking or hallucinations), difficulty sleeping, stomach aches, diarrhea, headaches, lack of hunger (leading to weight loss) and dry mouth. In some cases, the use of Ritalin has led to death. Death can be caused due to burst blood vessels, heart failure and fever. Violence is a leading cause of amphetamine-related deaths. Violent tendencies can develop after even regular use.
Children are dying at unprecedented rates from drugs like Ritalain. An excellent documentary Generation Rx, details the disturbing and ongoing chemical abuse of children by conventional medicine. The prescription of psychiatric drugs to the masses, specifically children, are altering their minds, bodies and entire lives.
While some apply preconceptions that marijuana exacerbates ADHD almost all California cannabinologists believe cannabis and cannabinoids have substantially improved the lives of ADHD
sufferers, and with less negative side effects than common stimulant drug ADHD treatments.
We have come to understand more about the brain and the role of dopamine and the endocannabinoid system we are starting to unravel how cannabis, anandamide and dranabinol act to free up dopamine and decrease the overstimulation of the midbrain.
The results in treating ADHD with cannabis are often spectacular. Patients report grades going from Cs and Ds to As and Bs. Dr. David Bearman, a physician practicing in Santa Barbara, California, reports patients have said, “I graduated from the Maritime Academy because I smoked marijuana,” and “I got my Ph.D. because of smoking marijuana.” Almost universally, ADHD patients who therapeutically used cannabis reported in helped them pay attention in lecture, focus their attention instead of thinking of several ideas almost at the same time, helped them to stay on task and do their homework.
70 percent of the brain’s job is to inhibit sensory input from the other 30 percent. Typical ADHD symptoms include distractability. The most accepted theory about ADHD rests on the fact that about 70% of the brain’s function is to regulate input to the other 30%. The cause of ADHD is probably a decreased ability to suppress sensory input both internal and external input (need a reference here). Basically the brain is overwhelmed with too much information that comes too fast. In ADHD, the brain is cluttered with and too aware of all the nuances of a person’s daily experience. This phenomenon is caused by a dopamine dysfunction.
Since the endocannabinoid system was discovered, many studies revealed that marijuana also modulates the dopamine system and therefore has a potential for ADHD treatment. As recounted in the physicians’ stories below, marijuana may be a safer, less costly, and
more effective treatment than anything available from the pharmaceutical companies.
Dr. Claudia Jensen, a 49-year old California pediatrician and mother of 2 teenage daughters, says marijuana might be the best treatment for ADHD. In an interview with the FOD news network, she said:
“Why would anyone want to give their child an expensive pill… with unacceptable side effects, when he or she could just go into the backyard, pick a few leaves off a plant and make tea…?”
“Cannabinoids are a very viable alternative to treating adolescents with ADD and ADHD … I have a lot of adult patients who swear by it.”
In her testimony, before the House Committee on Government Reform on Marijuana (2004) Dr. Jensen discussed the practice of recommending marijuana to patients with ADHD in an 11-page statement. Her testimony summarized hundreds of published
scientific articles on the safety/efficacy of marijuana that have produced strong scientific evidence that marijuana is an important medicine.
Her reasons for looking to marijuana as treatment for ADHD?
“The other legal drugs used to treat ADD are helpful in many patients, but they all have side effects… the other five of the nine drugs used to treat ADD in this country haven’t even been scientifically tested … for ADD in children. These are drugs for depression and high blood pressure …Of all the drugs use to treat ADD, cannabis has the least
number of serious side effects.
Her explanation for why marijuana is opposed by the pharmaceutical companies:
“The real problem with allowing patients to use cannabis as a medication is economics … If cannabis were approved for use in just the ADD/ADHD market alone, it could significantly impact the $1 billion a year sales for traditional ADD/ADHD pharmaceuticals.”
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.
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