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- What medical cannabis can do – by medical condition
- The various strains of medical cannabis and how they are different
- Methods of consuming medical marijuana
How to use this guide:
Here at MM411, our focus is to provide science-based medical reports on the healing potential of marijuana. We understand that marijuana can be confusing topic. Some believe it should be banned in all forms, while others argue for complete legalization and taxation. We believe there is a need for that debate, however, this site is not that place. Our purpose is to inform.
A Brief History of Medical Marijuana
In 1990, the cannabinoid receptor was first discovered in the human brain and by 1992 the entire endocannabinoid system had been uncovered. With this, science glimpsed the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana for the first time.
Since then these potential medicinal uses have been well documented.
According to Harm Reduction Journal’s report titled “Harm Reduction – The Cannabis Paradox”, cannabinoids
“regulate intercellular communication, especially in the immune and nervous systems,” as well as “modulate and coordinate tissues, organ and body systems (including cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, excretory, immune… and respiratory systems).”
Medical Marijuana is one of our more useful medicines, as The Institute of Medicine points out in their book, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base (1999)
Cannabinoids likely have a natural role in pain modulation, control of movement, and memory… “The combination of cannabinoid drug effects (anxiety reduction, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction, and pain relief) suggests that cannabinoids would be moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.”
The Endocannabindoid System – This ancient system found in all vertebrate maintains homeostasis within and across the organizational scales of all animals, including humans, and includes the Cb1 and Cb2 receptors. Within a cell, cannabinoids control basic metabolic processes such as glucose metabolism . Cannabinoids regulate intercellular communication, especially in the immune  and nervous systems . In general, cannabinoids modulate and coordinate tissues, organ and body systems (including the cardiovascular , digestive , endocrine , excretory [7,8], immune , musculo-skeletal , nervous , reproductive , and respiratory  systems). The effects of cannabinoids on consciousness are not well understood, but are well known, and underlie recreational cannabis use. These effects also have therapeutic possibilities .
Endocannabinoids – Cannabinoids produced by the body.
Photocannabinoids – Cannabinoids produced by the plant.
Cb1 Receptor - Primarily found in the brain.
Cb2 Receptor – Primarily found in the immune system.
AEA (Anandamide) – An endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter found in organs (human and most animals), with an abundant amount located in the brain. (While delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was first synthesized by Mechoulam in 1967 , it was not until 1990 that the cannabinoid receptor was localized in the brain  and cloned . Since then, discoveries in the field have proceeded at an ever-increasing pace.)
THC (Tetrahydocannabinol) – The psychoactive cannabinoid found in the plant. Also useful in cancer treatment options, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction, cancer cell growth reduction, among others.
CBD (Cannabidiol) – Very helpful in cannabinoid treatment options in an array of conditions including epilepsy, inflammatory conditions, reduction in cancer cell growth, appetite suppression, among many others. Also found in the plant.
CBN (Cannabinol) – Anticonvulsant, lowers heart rate, decreases blood clotting. Produced through THC degradation (so store your cannabis in an airtight container and in a cool, dark place) and less psychoactive than THC. Affinity to Cb2 receptor.
- Medical marijuana and the health benefits with different medical conditions
ADD/ADHD – Those who have this development disorder have experienced symptomatic relief and a better quality of life. Medical marijuana has proven to be a very effective alternative to Ritalin.
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE – Medical cannabis has been demonstrated to prevent cell death. The THC found in marijuana inhibits the primary marker of this terrible disease. When patients refuse food, medical marijuana can stimulate appetite, a positive result that carries over to many other conditions where a patient may experience a loss of appetite either from an ailment, or treatment.
ANOREXIA – Eating disorders have been widely to reported be kept under control by medical marijuana. This figure is twice as much as placebo.
ASTHMA – At the 2004 Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, Editor of the “Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics”, Dr. Ethan Russo spoke on the history of medical cannabis use to treat asthma, and found that because it relaxes bronchi and dilates one’s alveoli.
ANXIETY – In tests where symptoms have included anxiety, the use of medical marijuana has been shown to be very useful in relief from anxiety.
ARTHRITIS – Fifty percent of arthritic patients reported reduced pain and better sleep when medical cannabis was applied topically.
AUTISM –. Marinol and medical cannabis have shown significant improvement in the classroom, according to one mother, and for her son’s overall. For children with autism, tinctures, elixirs, and baked goods, and cannabutter/oil can be incredibly useful delivery methods. (Autism Research Institute).
CANCER – “Possibly the greatest harm-reducing potential afforded by cannabinoids comes from their use by cancer patients,” according to Harm Reduction Journal, an online peer-reviewed medical journal. They go on to state “numerous cancer types are killed in cell cultures in animals by cannabinoids. For example, cannabinoids kill the cancer cells of various lymphoblastic malignancies such as leukemia, skin cancer, glioma, breast and prostate cancer… thyroid cancer, and colorectal cancer.” More research is needed however, as cannabinoids can promote cancer in other cells, particularly in the lungs.
CHRONIC PAIN – In the Institute of Medicine’s book Marijuana and Medicine, “For mild, moderate, and severe pain, the THC analogue was equivalent to 50 mg of codeine and superior to placebo and to 50 mg of secobarbital” (pg. 143). Pain caused by a variety of medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis or premenstrual cramps, has also been demonstrated to be treatable by medical marijuana.
CROHN’S DISEASE – There are many testimonials from patients who use medical marijuana, not only to relieve them from their pain caused from this disease, but also to control their bowel movements.
EPILESPY – Patient testimonials, clinical experience, and animal studies all suggest medical marijuana is “beneficial adjunctive treatment in some patients with epilepsy.” This is from the report titled “Marijuana: an effective antiepileptic treatment in partial epilepsy?”
GLAUCOMA – There have been short-term studies that indicate medical marijuana lowers intraocular pressure, sometimes as much as 25%. According to the National Institute of Health, “some derivatives of marijuana lowered intraocular pressure when administered orally, intravenously, or by smoking, but not when topically applied to the eye.”
HIV/AIDS –A case study with 775 patients living with HIV/AIDS, the overall conclusion was that medical marijuana had a similar efficacy rate compared to the other medications they use to treat the patient’s same symptoms.
HEPATITIS C – As Result of a standardized survey on the medical use of cannabis products in the German-speaking area highlights, medical cannabis can be used to treat not only the nausea from the side effects of other treatment, but also the symptoms of Hepatitis C as well.
INFLAMMATION – Medical cannabis has proven successful in the treatment of several inflammation-related conditions, including edema and hyperalgesia.
LEUKEMIA – Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richland, VA demonstrated a reduction in the cell lines and when cultured.
LYMPHOMA – Not only has medical marijuana been shown to aid in appetite stimulation and nausea reduction, symptoms of lymphoma treatment, but Marijuana has also proven effective in reducing numbers of the lymphoma cells themselves.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) – Cannabinoids have been proven to function as ‘homeostatic modulators of the immune system’ which suggests therapeutic potential of medical marijuana to provide relief to people suffering from neurological diseases like MS (Harm Reduction Journal).
NAUSEA – There are dozens of medical conditions, including side effects of treatment, in which medical marijuana has proven to reduce nausea. This has been documented in hundreds of studies.
OSTEOPOROSIS – Reports from the Bone Laboratory of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem demonstrate certain cannabinoids to slow osteoporosis development, as well as stimulate bone growth while reducing bone loss. The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America’s report that mice without the CB2 cannabinoid receptor (present in humans) experience ‘age-accelerated bone loss reminiscent of human osteoporosis,’
PSYCHIATIRC SYMPTOMS – There have been dozens of studies reflecting an improvement of one’s mood in reactive depression.
SLEEP APNEA – Researchers at the University of Illinois Department of Medicine illustrate a “potent reduction” of sleep (related) apnea in rats. There have also been other studies concluding that medical marijuana can aid in sleep and sometimes improve the quality of it.
SPINAL CHORD INJURY – One study finds that only 15-20 mg (Delta-9-THC) per day orally an effective and safe form of treatment of spasticity.
TOURETTE’S SYNDROME – In one study, a subject’s total tic severity score fell from 41 to 7. This finding led to further studies all solidifying the medicinal benefits of medical cannabis. One such study also made note that after long-term cannabinoid treatment, not a single subject had any adverse effects on their ‘learning, recall or verbal memory’ and goes on to recommend medical cannabis when other drugs fail to show similar results. (Muller-Vahl et al. 1999. Treatment of Tourette’s syndrome with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. American Journal of Psychiatry)
- II. Medical Cannabis Strains
Cannabis comes from the Cannabaceae family, and has several species that produce cannabinoids commonly known as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Cannabinoids can be found on the flowers of female cannabis plants. The two types of cannabis strains: cannabis indica and cannabis sativa, have unique and particular properties separate from the other and have proven to have a wide-range of medicinal benefits.
Cannabis Indica – The traditional source of hashish, this plant is associated with an overall body relief. If you have major body pain or suffer from insomnia, this it the direction you will want to explore.
Cannabis Sativa – Energetic and uplifting, the medicating effect of the cannabis sativa plant is mostly cerebral, and is more commonly used as a daytime medicine. Someone who suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), for example, may see positive results from the use of this strain in areas of focus and concentration.
- III. Methods of Consumption
Inhalation – While it is clear that smoking cannabis does not cause lung cancer (Tashkin), there are alternatives to smoking. There are two approaches of inhaling medical marijuana. The first approach is through smoking. It is most commonly administered in joint form, although pipes, water bongs, bubblers, are also quite common.
According to the Institute of Medicine’s book Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base (1999):
“Except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications. The harmful effects to individuals from the perspective of possible medical use of marijuana are not necessarily the same as the harmful physical effects of drug abuse. When interpreting studies purporting to show the harmful effects of marijuana, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of those studies are based on smoked marijuana, and cannabinoid effects cannot be separated from the effects of inhaling smoke from burning plant material and contaminants.” (pg. 4-5)
This smokeless delivery system separates the medicating properties of the cannabis flower and inhalation of the cannabis ‘vapors’ without heat or smoke, therefore reducing the damage caused by smoke. One study from the University of California San Francisco concluded as early as 1999 that “vaporization of cannabis is a safe mode of delivery,” in their research titled Vaporization as a smokeless cannabis delivery system: A Pilot Study. Click here to see Bill Britt explain the type of vaporizer he uses and how to use it.
Eating or Drinking Medical Cannabis – Brownies or cookies are the most common forms of edible cannabis, however making cannabutter or oil allows the patient the freedom to create foods around a diet best suited for their health needs while remaining medicated. Drinks, such as tea or juices, can also be infused. Food-based medical marijuana will affect each patient slightly different than the next, so it is important to start with a smaller dosage and wait to see its affects. Be sure to ask which strain was used to prepare each edible prior to consumption, as a sativa brownie will have a different effect than an indica one.
Tinctures (alcohol extraction) – A form of concentrate in an alcohol solution, Tinctures can be administered in drop form under the tongue, or into water, tea, etc. These drops can also be applied topically on areas dealing with symptoms of pain, stiff joints, tight muscles, or over the temples during headaches, for example.
Extracts (Hashish, oils, etc.) – The separation of trichomes, or red hairs on the flower of the cannabis plant, can be done by several methods, each method creating a unique form of medical cannabis concentrate. When the separated trichomes are processed further into a more solid or sticky paste it is called hashish, or hash.
Topicals – The cannabis plant has an incredible amount of healing properties, and one of the most useful is the raw plant itself. One of the most useful ways to heal skin is with the raw plant itself. The most popular ways is through a salve or cream, however, the plant’s oils and raw matter can also be applied.
Sublingual – The healthiest method, where extracts or tinctures are used. One or two drops under the tongue will have a similar effect to smoking rather than eating because it is going through the blood still and not the stomach first.
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