Medicinal cannabis can be a curative drug. Some endocannabinoid analogues and/or inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation may contribute to the cure of these diseases. A causative role of a defective endocannabinoid system has been found in some disorders such as, for example, those arising from exaggerated or disrupted immune responses (inflammation, allergy, autoimmune diseases), or from the hyper or hypoactivity of the dopaminergic or other neurotransmitter systems (schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, anorexia, depression). On the other hand, medicinal cannabis is also used in the treatment of illnesses not necessarily related to altered endocannabinoid levels and action. One example may be the recent finding of some exogenous cannabionoids with potent anticancer activity not related to CB1 or CB2 receptors.
Medicinal cannabis can be an option in palliative care. “Palliative” (derived from the Latin root palliare, or “to cloak”) refers to mitigating suffering among people with serious, complex illness, but not necessarily curing them. Medicinal cannabis is an effective and safe option to help patients cope with malignancy related symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sleep disorders, pain, anxiety, and depression. In a scenario where a physician often prescribes one medication for each symptom, cannabis becomes a desirable therapeutic option, as a comprehensive treatment.
“Medicinal cannabis” is a broad term for any sort of cannabis-based medicine used to relieve symptoms. Medical knowledge concerning cannabis’ potential benefits and risks has accumulated largely through it’s widespread use.
Medicinal cannabis is used to treat a number of different conditions, including cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, Tourette’s syndrome and eczema, just to name a few. All of these conditions have different causes, different physiologic states, and vastly different symptoms. The patients are old and young. Some are undergoing conventional therapy. Others are on a decidedly alternative path. Yet despite their differences, almost all patients would agree on one point: cannabis helps their condition.
Cannabinoids – the active chemicals in medical cannabis – are similar to chemicals the body makes that are involved in appetite, memory, movement, and pain.
The endocannabinoid system has been implied in immune response, autonomic nervous system, analgesia, thermoregulation, sleep, and the development of exercise-induced euphoria in humans.
Research suggests cannabinoids might:
Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic immune-mediated condition of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, associated with significant morbidity and decreased quality of life. Basically, the immune system attacks tissue in the gastrointestinal tract, or gut, causing inflammation. The symptoms vary from person to person and can have a significant impact on quality of life. They include but are not limited to constant diarrhea, bleeding, constipation, pain and cramps in the abdomen, feeling an urgent need to go to the bathroom, and a sensation that the bowels have not emptied properly. Other symptoms, such as fatigue, appetite loss, weight loss, fever, and sweating at night, can accompany these.
It has been shown that Cannabis produces significant clinical benefits in patients with Crohn’s disease. The endocannabinoid system provides a potential therapeutic target for cannabis and cannabinoids and animal models have shown benefit in decreasing inflammation.
The wall of the gastrointestinal tract houses all components of the endocannabinoid system. The findings indicate that the CB2 receptor plays a key role in the ameliorating effect of cannabinoids. Also, it should be emphasized that the brain is the major site of CB1 receptor expression and the use of Cannabis in improving inflammation could therefore well include central effects, such as a reduction in pain sensation and relief of nausea and feeling of unpleasantness.
A key hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the build up of clumps of a protein, called amyloid, in the brain. Endocannabinoid function has been shown to modulate the primary pathological processes of AD during the silent phase of neurodegeneration: protein misfolding, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress. The levels of CB2 receptors increase in AD, and some studies have shown that components of cannabis, including THC, appear to remove the amyloid protein from nerve cells, reducing inflammation in the brain and showing improvement in learning.
Adding full spectrum cannabis oil to AD patients’ pharmacotherapy has been shown to be safe and a promising treatment option. Cannabis oil appears to be useful for managing some of the symptoms of AD such as agitation, aggression and anxiety.
Wasting syndrome (cachexia) is a severe condition associated with unintentional weight loss. This syndrome affects people who are in the late stages of serious diseases like cancer, HIV or AIDS, COPD, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure (CHF).
While there is no cure for cachexia, patients can find hope with the use of medical cannabis. Most of us have heard the old stereotype about cannabis causing the “munchies,” and research shows this appetite-stimulating effect can help those with cachexia. For instance, AIDs patients with wasting syndrome who consumed cannabis orally, found that cannabis significantly increased the patient appetites, leading to weight gain.
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder affecting 65 million people around the world. It causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures – a seizure is a sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain. There’s no cure for epilepsy, but the disorder can be managed with medications and other strategies.
The radically dramatic therapeutic effects of medical cannabis observed in epilepsy patients, especially pediatric ones, who use cannabis to treat their seizures is stark and cannot be ignored. Scientific research has demonstrated that seizure threshold is mediated by the endocannabinoid system, and that endocannabinoids produce reduction in seizures. For instance, activation of CB1 receptors has been shown to reduce seizure severity. Rosenberg, in his 2015 study, discussed cannabinoid treatment for epilepsy and the novel role of CBD in preventing seizures, and how using whole plant cannabis in this case contributes both to prevention and reduction of seizures. The neuroprotective activity of CBD appears linked to its excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Cannabis’ potential as a treatment for epilepsy has became central to the medical cannabis legalization movement in the United Kingdom. Hannah Deacon, the mother of Alfie Dingley, has become one of Britain’s most prominent medical cannabis campaigners following her fight to secure her son a prescription for medical cannabis. She has seen first-hand the effectiveness of cannabis oil in treating her son’s severe epilepsy.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) appears as a result of a malfunction of the immune system, which inflames nerves in the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord, and nerve cells lose some or all of their ability to transmit impulses. This situation produces an array of symptoms, including fatigue, depression, vertigo, blindness, incontinence, and loss of voluntary muscle control, as well as muscle spasticity. Cannabis users with MS replied that the drug both lessened pain and reduced muscle spasticity, as well as relieved nausea and helped with sleep.
Glaucoma is a complex eye condition that damages the optic nerve over time and when left untreated can lead to blindness. Evidence increasingly suggests glaucoma – now widely considered to be a neurodegenerative condition – has a connection to other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Because intraocular pressure (IOP) influences the onset and progression of glaucoma, ophthalmologists prescribe treatments that target intraocular pressure. In fact, the only way to prevent vision loss or eventual blindness is to lower IOP levels.
In people with glaucoma, Cannabis has been found to ease intra ocular pressure (IOP) and have nerve-protecting properties. The development of cannabinoid-derived medications represent a promising future direction for treating glaucoma. There is some evidence that a synthetic cannabinoid-like compound known as HU-211 can protect the optic nerve from damage.
To take medical cannabis, you can:
How you take it is up to you. Each method works differently in your body. “If you smoke or vaporize cannabis, you feel the effects very quickly,” Bonn-Miller says. “If you eat it, it takes significantly longer. It can take 1 to 2 hours to experience the effects from edible products.”