Marijuana – also referred to as cannabis or hemp has been around long before the United States and it will be around long after the government has dissolved. It was first used over 10,000 years ago in Taiwan in the making of pottery. The first recorded medicinal use of marijuana was in 2,737BC (about 4,750 years ago) in China under Emperor Shen Neng.
Wow! that’s a long long time ago… In the United States, marijuana was a blip until the Du Pont family (fearing the competition of hemp products) and William Randolph Hearst (often credited with instigating the Spanish-American War) connived to bring about the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 (also referred to as the Anslinger Act).
The horrors of the Vietnam War led many soldiers to escape from that reality by taking heroin and other drugs. President Richard Nixon reacted by addressing not the cause (the horrors of the War) but the result (the increased use of drugs deemed to be undesirable) by signing the War on Civilians (I’m sorry, I meant to write, “War on Drugs”–formally known as the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970).
Since then, conditions became progressively worse for proponents of marijuana. More recently, though, many states have made marijuana–specifically, medical marijuana–legal, resuming the normalcy of this almost 5,000-year old feature. Look below for a graphical representation.
Clinical Proof of pain relieving effects
Marijuana was tested on patients suffering from neuropathic pain due to peripheral neuropathy, post-stroke pain, multiple sclerosis, reflex sympathetic dystrophy or spinal cord injury. Medical marijuana was administered through vaporization. This is the preferred method over smoking.
If you want to know why? look here The study sponsor and responsible party was ‘University of California’ and the collaborators were ‘Center for Medicinal Cannabis’ and ‘VA Northern California Health Care System’. Chief investigators were Dr. Barth L Wilsey and Dr Davis from ‘University of California’.
The results from the study are graphically represented below and can be verified at http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/record/NCT01037088?term=marijuana&rslt=With&rank=2 As you can see above marijuana is reported to achieve atleast 30% pain reduction(reported after 3hours).
A section of the patients were also given placebo(containing no medicinal agent or marijuana) and the number of patients who reported more than 30% pain reduction are far less. This clearly indicates the potency of marijuana as a pain relieving agent when the pain is neuropathic in nature. Yes, some of the patients were masked/tricked with placebo to maintain the integrity of the study and to understand how much of the effects are psychological in nature(which the results show is a factor). The pain relieving effects are representative with a guage graph after taking into account similar studies. This graph is not accurate but pretty reasonable indication of the pain relieving effects of medical marijuana. A 2009 symposium of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) concluded that it can be used for neuropathic pain (burning and tearing), mechanical pain (dull and aching), and inflammatory pain (acute and sharp).
It elaborated and specified that it can help patients with many forms of chronic pain such as: Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Diabetic Neuropathy, Neuropathic Pain Syndrome, Central Pain Syndrome, Phantom Pain (the feeling of pain in a limb that has been amputated), Spinal Cord Injury, Fibromyalgia Syndrome, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Discogenic Back Pain, HIV Neuropathy, and Malignant Pain.
Clinically proven to reduce spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis patients
Clinical Proof of reducing pain in arthritis patients
Clinical Proof of improving appetite & sense of taste/odour in patient with advanced cancer
Advanced cancer is tough. This is the time when extreme treatments are tried and also the time when the body is in the process of shutting down. As such, patients lose interest in food and lose their sensory sensitivities. Marijuana has been clinically tested and proven to help such patients improve their quality of life. Simplified graph above made from the documented clinical study at http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/02/11/annonc.mdq727.full
Clinical proof of reducing nausea and vomiting in cancer patients
Marijuana has proven beyond doubt under the most stringent clinical trials that it is the best medicine to curb nausea and vomiting. Infact patients who originally did not respond to the standard care benefited from being administered medical marijuana orally and via vaporization. Below are the results.
The above clinical study and many more similar studies on marijuana and its effect on post chemo nausea are documented at http://www.cannabis-med.org/data/pdf/2001-01-2.pdf You can verify the data by going to http://www.americanjournalofsurgery.com/article/S0002-9610%2806%2900193-0/abstract.
Clinical studies say Marijuana could work as an anti-cancer agent
I have refrained from depicting studies that haven’t been tested large-scale on humans as definite clinical proof. But I am making an exception here due to the potential lives this ‘potential cure’ can have on the lives of people progressing towards terminal cancer.
There have been numerous theories that convincingly portray marijuana as a strong anti-cancer agent with tumour shrinking capabilities, but some doctors say it is no more effective than chemotherapy. In my opinion, if the theory is ‘solid’ then whats the harm in trying it on patients who don’t respond adequately to chemotherapy.
What are the theories supporting marijuana’s anti-cancer theories you may ask. There’s a whole list of them, most of them tested on frigging rats (someone test this on humans please!!)
- Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells selectively but do not affect the healthier ones and is even suspected to protect them. It has been tested on glioma cells in the lab and known to cause apoptosis in them. In short marijuana sort of acts like a sniper targeting cancerous cells.
- In an experiment Cancer was induced in rats with azoxymethane, but the same agent failed to induce cancer when azoxymethane and marijuana was introduced simultaneously, suggesting that marijuana was actually protecting the animal from cancer.
- Just when I was almost going crazy as to why marijuana is not the leading cancer treatment, here is a deal-breaker which might be discouraging doctors. In a study involving immuno-deficient mice – it has been found that tumor growths decreased by 60% when THC(marijuana) was administered. But unfortunately, with immuno-competent mice, the tumour growth actually increased with THC(marijuana). This is contentious.
- CBD (marijuana) has shown to increase the effects of cytotoxic drugs used in chemotherapy and is noted to have the potential to overcome the problem of resistance to chemotherapy agents like carmustine.
I have presented the moot points above in a simplified manner – if you are someone with an appetite for a lot of theory you can read the full-text at cancer.gov The promise is immense but marijuana use will become a preferred line of cancer therapy only if there are enough controlled large scale double-blind clinical trials performed that prove this decisively on humans. I hope that day is not far… but till then it will probably still be used in bits and spurts by patients who are terminal and have nothing to lose.
Clinical proof of improving food intake, sleep and moods in HIV+ patients
HIV positive patients undergoing treatment can suffer from weight-loss, loss of appetite and sleeplessness and mood swings. Marijuana can help alleviate these symptoms. The results of a clinical study at journals.lww.com proving this is graphically represented below. The results show that Dronabil, a medicine derived from marijuana gives similar results to 2% smoked marijuana, both of which probably gives the optimal results compared to the higher 3.9% marijuana.
Promising observations on treating symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – Human clinical trials underway
Marijuana has been rated to be a potentially very useful in treating ALS. Doctors and researchers(who conduct experiments with rats) categorically agree that marijuana has all the properties that could make for one of the better treatments for ALS for which there is no cure currently. Some of the properties that can combat with ALS symptoms are laid down in the table below. Commonsense tells us concerns about addiction and niggling side-effects shouldn’t be a factor with a serious terminal disease like ALS. Clinical trials are on the way and hopefully will pave a way for ALS sufferers.
Proven to reduce IOP in glaucoma patients
Medical practitioners worldwide know of the intra-ocular pressure reducing properties of the cannabinoids. It is known to cause 25% decrease in IOP. But smoking or orally consuming marijuana limits these effects to just 3-4 hours. Recently though, topical application(in a solution of mineral oil) has shown promising longer lasting results.
In addition, marijuana can be used to treat and prevent glaucoma, epileptic seizures, Dravet syndrome (also known as Severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, with epileptic seizures beginning around 6 months of age); Tourette syndrome, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease (whose progression is said to slowed in certain uncontrolled studies), the side-effects of hepatitis-C treatment, Lupus (an autoimmune disease); the tremors of Parkinson’s disease; PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder; the protection of the brain after a stroke, concussions and other trauma.
It is also used to tackle alcohol abuse, insomnia, the increase of creativity and the pain of arthritis. Here is a graphic that should the medical properties of marijuana.
Marijuana can be consumed in a variety of ways:
Smoking: This is by far the most common and well known method. This can be achieved using a variety of materials: joints, blunts, pipes and bongs. There can be dangers to marijuana usage (more on this at the end), one of which is that studies and reports have shown that the risk of cancer, respiratory diseases and other diseases and ailments is greater with the smoking of cannabis than it is by the other methods of consumption. To kill the fungi that is sometimes found in the smoking of marijuana you can try vaporization (see below) or by baking the marijuana in a home oven at 150°C or 302°F for 5 minutes before smoking. This kills the fungi but does not adversely affect the benefits found in the THC.
Orally: Another very well known method. In this, the marijuana, cannabis or help is a large ingredient in brownies, cookies and a few other foods.
Drinking: Sometimes alcohol (usually grain alcohol) is infused with the stems and leaves of marijuana. More often, it is made into a tea. However, these methods are usually inefficient and ineffective as THC (an active compound of cannabis) does not dissolve well into water-based liquids. This objection is solved by bhang–found in South Asia–in which cannabis and spices are mixed in with milk, which does dissolve the needed THC.
Vaporization: There are small and portable vaporizers available for inhaling marijuana. The great advantage of this method over that of smoking is that you can benefit from the effects of THC and the other components without the harmful side effects of inhaling the potentially toxic and carcinogenic byproducts, and it avoids the harm of second-hand smoke.
What exactly is medicinal marijuana?
Cannabis contains 460-500 compounds. It is outside the scope of this article to describe or even list all of them. 80 of them are useful in medicine and 5 of them listed below are the most common and therapeutically relevant.
- Cannabigerol is found to relieve interocular pressure of the eye and hence a treatment of glaucoma;
- Cannabinol is believed to slow the spread of cancer cells;
- Beta-caryophyllene reduces inflammation
- Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most important, and has been proven to relieve anxiety, cough, congestion, nausea, convulsion and inflammation, and it slows the growth of cancer cells; and
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound that results in marijuana’s profound effects on the mind. It has been proven to induce sleep and to relieve pain as well as being an antioxidant. There is a long-term effect of THC. Even after a single administration of THC, THC can remain in the body for several weeks or even a few months.
Different strains of cannabis
- Cannabis indica produces more CBD. It is associated with sedative effects and thus can be used as a treatment for insomnia. It is the type used when users get “stoned” or enter meditative states. It originated in South Asia.
- Cannabis sativa produces more THC. It tends to stimulate hunger (“the munchies”) and can be used as a treatment for eating disorders such as anorexia. However, sativa can also induce anxiety and paranoia. For medical purposes, it is often used as a daytime treatment and users often get a cerebral “high” and euphoria. This is the one that is most common in the Western world.
- Cannabis ruderalis They have little THC, but are high in CBD. This type is usually found in the Himalayas and the former Soviet Union.
Growing Organic Cannabis (Educational video)
[cleveryoutube video=”C7nVfrPro8Y” vidstyle=”1″ pic=”” afterpic=”” width=”” quality=”inherit” starttime=”0:56″ endtime=”” caption=”” showexpander=”off” alignment=”left” newser=””] The above video shows how to grow marijuana at home easily with step by step instructions – I do not advocate anything. please check if this is legal where you live.
As with being “high” or “stoned”, there are advantages and benefits, but also disadvantages and risks to using medical marijuana. As with being “high” or “stoned” it is sometimes just a matter of perspective.
It can make the user feel good; decreases anxiety (provided the patient does not consume too much); can treat insomnia (although it can also rob you of sleep); you may get the munchies (which may be viewed as a bad thing).
It keeps you slim and maintains a good metabolism; it is better for your lungs than tobacco (and if you vaporize it or kill the fungi then it is even better).
It controls epileptic seizures; it relieves the pain of arthritis and other sores and conditions; it treats inflammatory bowel diseases; slows the progression of Alzheimer’s; it can stop cancer from spreading; and it is easy to obtain in Colorado and other states that have legalized marijuana, either as a medicine or in all aspects.
However, it can also adversely affect the feeling towards rewards, making the user apathetic and dependent on marijuana; blocks memory formation; adversely affects balance, posture, coordination, reaction time, and making driving a car dangerous; increases the risk of depression for those who have a genetic predisposition toward mental illness.
It can be a contributory factor for many psychoses such as acute and chronic and for schizophrenia; audio and visual hallucinations (which actually may be welcomed by some users); robs you of sleep; causes your heart rate to increase; may cause red eyes; lead to dry mouth.
It is considered to be a “gateway drug”–one which leads to the use of harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine–although this is more of a belief than a documented experience.
And, do not forget, it can lead to hit-and-run accidents, manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, and a descent into madness, as told by Reefer Madness (ha ha). The great thing is that, after it was first prescribed almost 5000 years ago, marijuana is being recognized in the United States for its medicinal effects. If it is prescribed for your pain or other ailment then you ought to take advantage of its benefits.