“But what has generated the renewed interest and excitement are the anecdotal reports that some children with otherwise untreatable severe epilepsies respond well to CBD extracts and oils (please see Porter & Jacobson 2013; Hussain et al. 2015).”
CBD is one of the main therapeutic agents that help treat one of the many symptoms/ diseases, like epilepsy, that are traditionally harder to treat with any current medicines. The other symptoms/ diseases also includes rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, PTSD, schizophrenia, neuropathic pain, seizures, convulsions and the list goes on.
In previous blogs we talked about some benefits of cannabis (find previous blogs cannabis green juice, cannabis-brain, cannabis-sleep), we briefly mentioned about chemicals in cannabis such as cannabidiol or CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. In truth, most of the medicinal value we find in cannabis is greatly related to CBD.
CBD is non-addictive and has great neuro-regulating properties. It can bind to our receptors (such as some G-protein receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS/ PNS), 5-HT serotonin receptors and adenosine receptors) on cells of our body to instruct it to carry out different tasks. Anti-inflammatory, spasticity and epilepsy reduction, neuropathic pain-relieving, anti-depressant and neuro-regulatory functions can all contribute to the CBD medical value. It works also as an antagonist to THC’s exhibitory or anxiety effects on your CNS that helps regulates a lot of unwanted side effects from THC. Although CBD still have some psychoactive effects but it is more a relief type which mainly acts in the body unlike THC.
“Several drug companies have recently developed CBD-based medications, and one of these, called Epidiolex, is now being tested in clinical trials. Epidiolex was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals and has been given to more than 400 children under the FDA’s expanded access (“compassionate use”) program.”
Unfortunately, CBD rich strains are rare. The reason is because of the cross-breeding for the recreational cannabis which has high THC level and low CBD level. Also, with the reason that cannabis use is still prohibited in some of the states (currently only 23 states legalized medical cannabis). It is very hard for people to obtain quality medicinal CBD. Legalizing medical cannabis would help to open up more funding opportunities for cannabis research. And hopefully in the very near future, we will be able to see more people getting medical relief or even a cure by CBD and medical cannabis.
Roll roll roll, flip flip flip, and an hour later, you are still on your bed with your eyes wide open? Want a good night’s sleep? Cannabis may be able to help.
A study published in June 2015 tried to find out the mechanism of how cannabis improves sleep disorders. Researchers did a correlation study between the type and concentrations of cannabinoids (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and cannabidiol or CBD) in different strains of cannabis that human subjects consumed and their sleep quality in a dispensary in California.
Subjects who self-reported using cannabis to treat sleep problems have a choice of what strains of cannabis to use such as sativa/sativa varieties, indica/ indica varieties or hybrid of both varieties. These participants from dispensaries are better subjects as they use cannabis straight from the plant. A cannabis plant contains different kinds of cannabinoids with varying effects. Though cannabinoids such as CBD and ∆9-THC have both psychoactive effects, ∆9-THC provides the primary psychoactive effects.
“Studies have examined sleep effects following laboratory administration of cannabinoids, but laboratory-based studies do not necessarily translate to “real world” behaviors as cannabis choice is not afforded within the laboratory context.”
Out of the 163 subjects, 50% of them used cannabis to treat insomnia symptoms and 9% used cannabis for nightmares. Most of the subjects preferred sativa and primary sativa varieties for nightmares while there was not as much preference for insomnia and sleep quality.
What kind of cannabis should you use? According to the study, there seems to be no definite answer. Subjects who had a harder time sleeping (i.e., subjects who have insomnia or longer self-report latency) used cannabis with a higher concentration of CBD. While subjects who often resorted to sleep aids used lower THC cannabis compared to those who were less dependent on sleep aids. There was no association between cannabis use and sleep problems.
It is also worth noting that indica has higher THC than sativa and therefore more likely to develop cannabis dependence or cannabis use disorder (CUD). Therefore, for those who does not want to have major psychoactive effects, THC concentration might be something that you want to pay attention to.
Although this is a very primitive study of its kind, it certainly sets a ground for future cannabis use studies because in one cannabis plant there are hundreds other cannabinoids besides THC and CBD. The real value of cannabis would not be discovered unless more extended research can be done.
“In this large cross-sectional adult survey with high prevalence of both substance use and obesity, cannabis use in the past year was associated with lower BMI, lower percentage fat mass, lower fasting insulin, and HOMA-IR (insulin resistance). As a result, cannabinoids from cannabis may be viewed as an interesting avenue for research on obesity and associated conditions.”
Along with the medical treatments that benefit from medical marijuana, research has shown that obesity and cannabis are positively associated with each other. Studies from the Conference of Quebec University Health Centers, American Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that cannabis users were less likely to be obese obtaining lower body mass indices (BMI) and lower fasting insulin.
Specifically, researchers reported that cannabis users possessed an average BMI of 26.8 compared to an index of 28.6 for non-users, after controlling for age, gender and other factors. Those subjects who reported using cannabis but never having used tobacco, or who were former users of tobacco, possessed on average the lowest BMI.”
“Cross-sectional data published in 2011 in the American Journal of Epidemiology similarly reported that the prevalence of obesity in the general population is sharply lower among marijuana consumers than it is among nonusers.”
Cannabis can indeed lower obesity rates and prevent the risk of diabetes among marijuana users.
Do you ever get blamed for being forgetful? Long-term cannabis use has been associated with poor short-term memory. Why is that? Let’s go through some fast facts about the mechanisms.
What are the receptors in the endocannabinoid system? There are three endocannabinoid receptors that have been discovered so far – CB1, CB2, and CB3. The CB1 receptors are located mainly in the central nervous system with a small number in other areas on cells’ surfaces. CB1 receptors are associated with learning, sleep, coordination, and pain sensation. CB2 receptors are different, located throughout the body and associated with immune function. Though only three receptors have been discovered, cannabis researchers believe there may be as many as 10!
When one of the cannabinoid compounds in cannabis called ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to and activates the CB1 receptors it was thought that this binding would give cannabis users the memory deficit effect. However, researchers from a recent study found that serotonin 5-HT2A receptors (5-HT2AR) are instead the ones to blame.
Because both CB1 and 5-HT2A receptors are neighbors, when THC binds to CB1R, it signals 5-HT2A by forming a heteromer. To prove this, research experiments were done on mice. When THC binds to CB1R, both the pain-relieving effects and psychoactive effects such as memory loss were observed in normal mice with normal CB1R and 5-HT2AR. However, when blocking the CB1-5-HT2A receptors’ \heteromer, the mice had no psychoactive effects, but no change in pain relieving effects. The same happened to a genetically modified mice which had the 5-HT2AR mice removed; the mice showed no change in pain relieving effects. Similarly, they found that the GM-mice had no signs of memory deficit. This concluded that CB1R was responsible for the anxiety and pain feelings and 5-HT2AR was responsible for the relaxation and memory loss effects.
This is a major find for medical cannabis users to avoid the adverse consequences from using medical cannabis treatments. Now you know there is a way to prevent further memory deficit from using cannabis. However, more studies are needed to put the observation into practice.
In the ideal world, patients think physicians are magicians. Once they pay a visit to the doctor and take the prescribed medication, conditions would improve. Our health care system expects physicians to know patients by a short period of time, but this is not possible with every patient, especially those who have chronic or severe conditions with long medical history or complications.
Patients who suffered from severe illness or illnesses who do not really have very effective treatment such as nausea, chronic pain, and epilepsy therefore start to look into alternative help such as medical marijuana.
As a matter of fact, a lot of patients are capable of taking care of their own medical issues. There are some tricks that healthcare professionals might not know that patients do know because they are the frontline fighters of that specific condition. Patients can help each other by sharing their knowledge of that illness and supporting those with similar conditions. Clinic staff can also provide more time and detailed information to patients such as cannabis strains education. It is actually very surprising to see how positive a marijuana clinic or dispensary can be.
Patients should be more proactive and take initiative in their treatment plan. It is only rational to do so since a majority of the patients are not financially able to hire a doctor who is available 24/7.
“Giving patients more control doesn’t mean handing over a blank prescription pad. Patients can gain more control — safely — if they understand a drug’s effects and duration, and if they have some leeway in when and how to use it. For instance, when I (David Casarett, MD) prescribe as-needed pain medication, I’ll give my patients permission to figure out for themselves how much to take and when. “
The health care system seems to lack this knowledge that the marijuana industry has already learned years ago.