Let’s Talk About Cannabis and AnxietyLeave a Comment
Ever had a “bad trip” on cannabis? Perhaps you smoked too much or tried edibles for the first time and weren’t prepared for the effects? It’s well known that overly-strong cannabis doses can cause panic and anxiety. So people often scratch their heads and laugh when they find out doctors recommend cannabis to treat anxiety disorder. But doesn’t it cause anxiety in the first place?
It might be a cliched notion, but when confronted with two completely opposite points of view, the truth is almost always somewhere in between. When faced with one extreme accusing cannabis of causing psychosis, and another proclaiming it’s a remedy, it’s wise to take both points of view with a grain of salt.
Cannabis and anxiety is a complex topic that’s only beginning to move to the forefront of the legalization conversation. And, believe it or not, many cannabis users experience remarkable relief from anxiety disorders with cannabis. So how is this possible? Can cannabis really help treat an anxiety disorder? We’re only now beginning to see studies that show the cannabinoids’ true roles in our stress patterns and physiology.
What you'll learn in this post:
[Click any of the section titles below to jump there]
- What Is Anxiety?
- I Thought Anxiety Was All in My Head?
- It's Just the Way We Work
- Stress Is an Important Survival Tool
- Wearing Out the Button
- All That Adrenaline and Nowhere to Go
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
- The Medical Approach
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- Physical Activity
- Where Does Cannabis Fit In?
- Dose and Ratio Matter
- How Do I Find the Best Cannabis for My Needs?
- Getting High Doesn't Happen in a Vacuum
- Why Not Try Your Own Scientific Approach?
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response to stress. Literally, everyone experiences it from time to time. But sometimes anxiety becomes an ugly monster that takes over life. At this point, you might be diagnosed with one of the many different types of clinical anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Panic attacks
- Social anxiety disorder
- Selective mutism
- Separation anxiety
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
That’s a lot of syllables and categories that don’t really tell us much about what anxiety is, or its physical causes.
I Thought Anxiety Was All in My Head?
Wrong. Anxiety is a physiological reaction to stress. Like all physiological reactions, it can be well-adapted to external circumstances or dysfunctionally adapted. When the reaction to stress is dysfunctional, a cascade of hormones are released into the body to wreak their havoc – and the aftermath ain’t pretty. The physical symptoms are:
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Choking sensation
- Pain in your chest
- Feeling hot or cold
- Intestinal cramps
- Fear of losing control, dying or a sudden sense of detachment from reality
You can have one or all of these symptoms, which can vary widely. But all of them have one thing in common – they’re normal reactions to increased stress hormones.
It’s Just the Way We Work
There’s an evolutionary basis for these physical symptoms when exposed to stress. The most basic benefit? These physical reactions are intensely unpleasant, encouraging us to exit stressful situations that cause these symptoms. Even better, these unpleasant hormones give us the energy we need to escape a bad situation fast, increasing our chances of survival. Consider the following scenario:
You dip your toe into a South American lake. It looks like a pleasant place for a swim. The water’s wonderful and relaxing, so you wade a little further in. Suddenly, you see it frothing as a bird flails to escape. A pool of blood mixes with the frothy water and you realize you’ve stepped into piranha territory.
Would it be evolutionarily expedient to stay in the water? How about moseying out slowly as the school of killer fish rapidly descends on you for dessert? Of course not!
Stress Is an Important Survival Tool
The best survival reaction would be to run away from that lake so fast that you appaer to levitate. This is where anxiety comes in. It releases stress hormones that prepare your body for the intense burst of physical activity you need to survive, better known as “fight or flight.”
This reaction is real, and it has a powerful effect on the human body. In fact, the physical effects can be so powerful that they can provide seemingly superhuman strength. These are the hormones that allow a 280lb man to lift a 3,000lb car off an accident victim. Or they might give a mother the strength to run into a burning building to rescue her child. If these hormones can do all this, they aren’t all bad, and they most definitely aren’t all in your head.
Wearing Out the Button
But what if these hormones are always being activated without the accompanying explosion of activity? Consider, if you will, another scenario:
You’re in L.A. on the 405 at 11pm. You check your mirrors, signal, and switch lanes to exit. Suddenly you see a red Corvette screaming toward you at half the speed of light.
The same physiological response that saved your ancient ancestors from saber tooth tigers just allowed you to jerk your car back into the previous lane in time to avoid becoming protoplasm on the side of the road.
All That Adrenaline and Nowhere to Go
So, was the situation with the red corvette any less life-threatening than the piranhas? Heck no! The exact same stress response saved you twice. However, in the case of the piranhas, you just levitated through water at breakneck speed (not easy to do). In the case of the nut behind the wheel, you’re still sitting on your keister, likely suffering from heart palpitations and homicidal rage. What are you supposed to do with all that extra blood sugar and adrenaline?
Depending on your current lifestyle and occupation, you could find yourself facing this type of fight or flight response several times a day. Any normal person who experiences this hormone response while forced to be immobile or calm will have a negative reaction (think of an encounter with an aggressive customer who might be threatening your life). These hormones aren’t meant to be circulating in great amounts while sitting still.
So, there’s NOTHING to be embarrassed about if you suffer from anxiety. Almost everyone has experienced this phenomenon. And the ones that don’t probably actually do and just don’t know it.
Your body is built to work this way. It’s the world that’s poorly adapted to our biology and changing so fast it’s hard to keep up on an evolutionary scale. Perhaps, centuries from now, our physiological responses will evolve to adapt more appropriately to these stressful situations that require small movements and calm. We might even call it the “react and relax” response.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Meanwhile, we need to deal with the here and now. The world is nuts and it’s actually a testament to humanity’s resilience that we can survive here at all. Just because anxiety might become a diagnosed mental illness doesn’t mean it’s your fault, it’s all in your head, or a weakness. Just the opposite.
The world we live in today is every bit as tough and stressful as it was when our ancestors lived here. We’re dealing with biological responses that are very poorly adapted to the stressful situations we regularly deal with. So, how do we cope?
The Medical Approach
Doctors have lots of handy little pills. They’ve got ones that make you larger, some that make you small, and others that mom gave you that don’t seem to do anything at all.
Fortunately, some people really do benefit from medicines that help regulate our stress responses. Unfortunately, many others have a hard time getting past the unpleasant side effects. These can include:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: weight gain, insomnia and sexual problems.
- Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: high blood pressure, nausea, headaches and trouble sleeping.
- Tricyclic Antidepressants: low blood pressure, blurry vision, dry mouth and constipation.
- Benzodiazepines: addiction and risk of overdose.
If you have trouble dealing with these side effects (it’s hard to believe some people don’t), don’t despair. There are other natural ways to combat the stress caused by our unnatural world.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Think of this as a way to rewire the brain – perhaps even give you a little adaptive evolutionary kick start. Basically, it involves teaching your brain entirely new thought patterns. For an oversimplified example, we can revisit our homicidal Corvette. Was he/she really trying to kill you, or just trying to get somewhere fast?
We tend to think in a reactionary way to situations that causes a feedback loop and increases our anger and stress hormones. We might think, “that (insert expletive) tried to kill me!” This doesn’t help. It’s also probably not true. Instead, you’d replace the defensive thought with, “I’m in control of my car and forgive this person for their careless act.”
This is a lot harder than it sounds. It requires an almost superhuman effort of self-control since we aren’t built to think that way. It’s also very worthwhile and life-affirming for many who find it improves other areas of life as they learn. Want to learn more about this proven therapeutic tool? Check out this page.
This is another acquired skill that can help to reduce stress hormones and repair stress-induced damage. The best part about meditation is it can be used as long as time and circumstances allow. Learn more about meditation and its benefits here.
Considering the root of the problem, fight or flight without the release of either, increasing physical activity, and sweating, as often as possible can help. This will help to use all of the extra glucose and adrenaline released into our systems.
There are many ways to do this, but if it’s possible to time physical activity closely with stressful situations, you might experience more relief. For instance, if you have a fight with a loved one, you can take a walk around the block to “cool off.”
Where Does Cannabis Fit In?
Many people use cannabis to treat stress and anxiety, and use it very effectively. This is confusing to some scientists that don’t approach medicine in a functional way. It’s well-known that THC can sometimes give you the heebie-jeebies. So it doesn’t seem like cannabis is the ideal herb for anxiety of any kind.
But THC isn’t the only compound in cannabis; and unlike the controlled environments in research studies, it’s usually taken with many other cannabinoids at the same time. Just like many medications produced by big pharma, THC alone can produce a very different effect than the whole plant from which it’s derived.
Dose and Ratio Matter
Cannabis is one of those herbs that can have opposite effects at different doses, and at different mixtures. Taking a little may make a person relaxed and happy while taking a lot can push a novice to borderline psychosis.
Some of the compounds in cannabis elevate anxiety, while others cause relaxation. The overall effect that a cannabis product has on you will depend on the ratio of each compound present, and your own physiological reactions. Discover more about them here.
Bottom line: you’ll never know how a new strain or cannabis product will affect you until you try it. That’s why it’s so important to start small and work your dosage up if you’re among the majority who suffers from a little occasional anxiety. It may be tempting to overdo your cannabis dosage since it won’t kill you, but the difference between a great day and a horrific afternoon can a few milligrams of THC.
How Do I Find the Best Cannabis for My Needs?
That’s a very good question with an answer about as clear as mud. Clinical studies can provide a general idea of how compounds work on most, but not how they work on everyone. Clinical studies on single compounds won’t tell us what happens when they’re combined with others, either. And when the compounds are as magical and dynamic as they are in cannabis, experimental results can be positively confounding.
Studies have shown that CBD acts as an antagonist to THC in CB1 receptors (the receptors that make us feel high). But a few others show less of this effect with CBD than previously thought. What’s more likely is that scientists have failed to take into account each person’s unique chemistry. The general consensus is that CBD does help with relaxation and perception of a more mellow high, and our fellow canna-connoisseurs tend to agree.
So a good start would be finding a strain with some CBD as well as THC. You might want a 50/50 mix if you don’t want to feel much from the THC, or go with a lower CBD:THC ratio if you’re open to a little couch lock for the day. But this still leaves a lot of room for experimentation.
Getting High Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum
Budtenders and enthusiasts everywhere generally agree that sativa provides a more cerebral high while indica gives us couch lock and munchies. This statement is as credible as an old wives’ tale. The truth is even more convoluted than our most experienced cannabis scientists will admit.
We see studies that test how disconnected neurotransmitters absorb compounds in a Petri dish and show cannabinoids’ effects on rats and mice. We even see studies assessing whether administering Marinol can reduce cannabis self-administration in “cannabis dependent” individuals like methadone for “cannabis addicts.” (It’s okay to laugh at the silliness of this concept.)
Remember, anyone can submit a scientific study to the community – even a paranoid Reagan-era mad scientist who thinks any pill is good idea if it’s got “Lilly” or “Abbott” stamped on it. Heaven forbid you take the actual substance in its natural form.
Each one of these studies fails to take into account the most important variable – us! None of these chemical reactions takes place in a vacuum. They take place in our bodies where receptors are affected by what we eat, what we’re doing at the time, and how much dopamine and serotonin we already have in our systems – even what we were thinking about five minutes ago.
How in the world would it be possible to completely narrow down the effects of a strain or specific compound in the midst of such chaos?
Why Not Try Your Own Scientific Approach?
The best way to figure out the right regimen for your personal well-being is to try several different types, strains, ratios and administration methods and keep track of how they make you feel. There’s something to be said for applying the scientific method to our own health and wellness routines. After all, even scientists have to admit that what works on a lab rat may have absolutely no bearing on humans.
Even if you’re an extremely experienced user, you can benefit from this method. We often fall into certain habits or a rut with our medicine and lose great opportunities to improve results.
Here are some questions to consider while experimenting. Does edible CBD have a more relaxing effect than smoked or vaped CBD? Does the ratio of CBD to THC affect your high? Do the other cannabinoids present, like terpenes, affect your overall feel? Prefer natural terpenes to artificial flavors? Edibles, inhalation, or both? Do you like to titrate your doses in tiny amounts or take larger doses one to three times daily?
If you have questions or are unsure where to start, Nugg’s Cannabis Concierge service is here for you. Our team of experts will listen to your needs and concerns, and offer the most up-to-date product and industry info to make sure you have the best possible cannabis experience.
“What, if any, are the medical and health benefits of marijuana?”
It’s a frequently asked question, and rightfully so.
23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Spurred on by the increasing information made available from research studies and trials from around the globe, many ‘experts’ are beginning to see cannabis for what it is:
- A potent medicinal drug with the potential to improve overall quality of life; and
- Medicine with limited-to-no side effects (consider all of those pharmaceutical TV advertisements and their list of side-effects a mile long, like Belviq could soon become a thing of the past).
There’s a reason medical marijuana has come to the forefront of America’s attention in recent years. It’s quite literally a miracle plant, a natural ‘wonder drug,’ And for millions, it is a literal life-saver, providing countless health benefits and treatments for ailments. But it isn’t for everyone, and with all the noise surrounding the plant, it can sometimes be difficult to comprehend what the actual health benefits of cannabis are, and how to determine if it’s the right medication for you.
Here you’ll learn about ten ways medicinal cannabis can benefit you and your health.
What you'll learn in this post:
[Click any of the section titles below to jump there]
- Cannabis 101
- Cannabis Can Protect Your Vision
- Cannabis Provides Relief for Cancer & AIDS Patients
- Cannabis for Pain Relief
- Cannabis Decreases Anxiety, Combats PTSD
- Cannabis Counteracts Autoimmune Disorders like Lupus & Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Cannabis Helps Manage Epilepsy & Other Seizure Disorders
- Cannabis Slows Progression of Alzheimer's
- Cannabis Benefits Cancer Treatment
- Cannabis Lessons Side: Effects in Hepatitis C Treatments, Increases Overall Treatment Effectiveness
- Cannabis Calms Parkinson’s Tremors
To start on the right foot, let’s cover some of the basics, or Cannabis 101 as I call it.
What is it? Cannabis is the scientific name for a “tall plant with a stiff upright stem, divided serrated leaves, and glandular hairs,” called the for the marijuana plant.
The cannabis plant produces several naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids, which react with the human body in different ways. The most famous of these cannabinoids is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinoid, commonly dubbed “THC.” It’s the psychoactive cannabinoid that gives you that notable “high” feeling when smoked, ingested, vaporized, or applied (sublingually or topically).
In recent years, another cannabinoid called cannabidiol, or “CBD” has become the focal point of significant scientific research. Numerous studies have shown that CBD has medicinal value without the psychoactive characteristics of THC. In other words, it has specific, medical benefits and applications and won’t get you high.
There are several other compounds found in the cannabis plant, but these are still little understood. Hopefully with the reclassification of cannabis (down from its current Schedule I drug ranking), we’ll see increased funding for medical research of cannabis.
For now, as far as science and medicine are concerned, the entire value of cannabis is extracted from its THC and CBD compounds. What’s noteworthy is that the method by which these compounds are delivered to the body hasn’t been a focal point of scientific research. In fact, scientists tend to conduct studies with cannabinoids that have been extracted from the plant or synthesized in a lab. That means there’s little information available as to whether the effects of THC & CBD differ when applied via new cannabis forms like concentrates, waxes and hash. This also poses the question of whether cannabis maintains the same health benefits to users when consumed in different forms.
And that’s important to bear in mind when comparing scientific studies to the experience of the typical user.
Now that you’ve mastered the basics of cannabis let’s explore what else it can do.
Cannabis Can Protect Your Vision
Whether you know someone personally or just watched Zach Galifianakis & Robert Downey Jr. in the film, Due Date, you’re likely aware that cannabis has been shown to improve the lives of glaucoma patients.
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that cause abnormally high pressure in they eye, damaging the optic nerve, causing significant pain. It’s one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S., can occur at any age (but is most common in adults), offers no warning signs, and causes irreversible vision loss.
The good news is that medical marijuana eases the symptoms of glaucoma, by reducing stress on the optic nerve. In fact, glaucoma was the first condition to be approved for treatment with marijuana, since cannabis prohibition in the 1930’s.
“No adverse effects from the smoking of marijuana have been demonstrated.” Federal Judge James Washington, 1976
Fast forward to the 1970’s, when a man named Robert C. Randall sued the government for the right to treat his glaucoma with marijuana. In 1976, federal Judge James Washington ruled for Randall. He found that “while blindness was shown by competent medical testimony to be the otherwise inevitable result of the defendant’s disease, no adverse effects from the smoking of marijuana have been demonstrated.”
Since then, other, less controversial, treatments have become available, leading the American Glaucoma Society to remove THC from its list of approved treatments. But that doesn’t change the undeniable impact Randall’s case has had in the fight for medical marijuana use.
Cannabis Provides Relief for Cannabis & AIDS Patients
The most widely recognized benefit of cannabis for medical use (and the only one currently accepted by the Food and Drug Administration) is its effectiveness in relieving nausea and loss of appetite. Both conditions are common side-effects experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and as well as AIDs patients experiencing its associative “wasting syndrome.”
Researchers found that THC was undeniably effective in reducing nausea and increasing appetite in clinical trials. They also figured out a way to synthesize THC in a lab, thereby avoiding cannabis plant restrictions imposed by the federal government.
Synthetic THC is currently available under the brand names Marinol and Cesamet. Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, Deputy Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the Food and Drug Administration, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that “These products have undergone FDA’s rigorous approval process and have been determined to be safe and effective for their respective indications.”
The U.S. government cites the availability of synthetic THC as a key reason for their opposition of widespread medical marijuana legalization. By that standard, the availability of synthetic THC should immediately call for the reclassification of cannabis from it’s current status as a Schedule I drug, which effectively claims that there are zero medical benefits of marijuana. But alas, hypocrisy is rampant this day in age.
What the government fails to recognize is the vast accumulation of anecdotal evidence by many cancer and AIDS patients showing synthetic THC is inferior, and unpleasant, when compared to other consumption methods — like smoking the plant itself, which means these patients might not be receiving the full effects and benefits of cannabis.
In fact, it was the great outcry from those same cancer and AIDS patients, seeking relief from their symptoms, which supplied the biggest push for the medical marijuana movement in California. That drive resulted in the first compassionate use law in the U.S., enacted by California voters in 1996.
Cannabis for Pain Relief
Did you know that if someone say they’re “feeling no pain” when using marijuana, studies are suggesting that what they’re saying is literally true? THC and CBD are being closely studied to examine their effectiveness in treating chronic pain. The hope is that these studies will validate the existing anecdotal evidence: that THC, CBD, or similar cannabis compounds are more effective than current opioid pain medications for a variety of conditions including arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, muscular sclerosis, cancer and other neurological conditions.
And even if the cannabinoids are found only to be equally as effective as existing pharmaceuticals, it would still be a landslide victory. Why? Because cannabis doesn’t come with the scary list of nasty side effects that opioids carry. The benefits of marijuana far outweigh any associated side effects, which are very limited and minor in nature.
One case study gave the following insight into the effectiveness of THC vs. CBD in treating his pain.
The patient, a chronic pain sufferer, who regularly uses medical marijuana to alleviate his daily struggles with chronic pain said that the pain (due to arthritis and a rare degenerative condition in the spine) can render him relatively immobile on certain days.
Initially, the patient experimented with virtually every type of cannabis consumption I’ve ever heard of: smoking flower, vaporizing flower, dabbing concentrates, vaporizing concentrates, ingesting edibles, drinking THC-infused beverages (like Sprig soda), applying topical rubs and ointments, etc. to little or no success.
He stated that he had found relief in certain high-THC and high-CBD strains like Blackberry Kush and ACDC (strains high in both THC & CBD tend to make the best pain medicines), but that it wasn’t until trying high-CBD products in the form of sublingual drops that he found his real medicine.
Based on personal experience, the patient advised that sublingual drops were preferred as they don’t imbue users with the typical “high” or “baked” feeling. He, instead, noticed significant pain relief without the psychoactive effects. He reported feeling more comfortable in daily activities, remarking that that the drops had the additional benefit of reducing his smoking consumption to nearly half.
Cannabis Decreases Anxiety, Combats PTSD
A 2010 study by Harvard Medical found that in small doses cannabis reduced anxiety, improving the user’s overall mood and providing a generalized sedative effect, similar to over the counter medications but without the side effects.
It has been approved for treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD across the country, and in New Mexico is the primary reason patients get a license for medical marijuana use.
And the Department of Health and Human Services even signed off on a government proposal aimed at further study into the benefits of marijuana for veterans living with PTSD – the only time the U.S. government has every authorized a proposal that includes either vaporized or smoked marijuana – a classified drug with no “accepted” medical applications!
Naturally occurring cannabinoids, similar to THC, assist the body in controlling the system that causes anxiety and fear in both the brain and the body.
John, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq conflict “swears by it,” as treatment. “It gives me relief from the anxiety but doesn’t leave me fuzzy-minded.” Adding that it, “helps me sleep with no nightmares.”
Because marijuana disrupts the typical sleep cycle by interrupting some of the later stages of REM sleep — the dream state — many sufferers of PTSD find relief from night-time terrors when using cannabis. When REM state is disrupted, the nightmares often are as well, aiding veterans in achieving restorative sleep.
Cannabis Counteracts Autoimmune Disorders like Lupus & Rheumatoid Arthitis
Lupus, the common name for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease characterized by swelling and inflammation of joints in the body, kidney, lung, and heart damage, among other symptoms. With autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks the healthy tissues in the body.
In 2014 the Journal of Biological Chemistry published research that illustrated how THC can “suppress the body’s immune functions,” and that’s good news for people living with autoimmune diseases like Lupus.
Additional benefits of cannabis use like relief of associated nausea and body pain, make it a desired choice among some patients.
Emma V., a recently diagnosed Lupus patient in the UK, said that cannabis “was really the only choice.” Adding, “I can take one drug [cannabis] and get relief from multiple symptoms and feel well enough to get on with my day, or I can take a handful of tablets [OTC medications] and be useless.”
Cannabis Helps Manage Epilepsy & Other Seizure Disorders
Approximately 1% of the world’s population suffers from some form of epilepsy. And of those nearly 72 million people (more than twice the population of Canada!) it is estimated that between 20-30% of all individuals with epilepsy are not “adequately controlled with conventional drugs.”
In 2003, a study performed by Virginia Commonwealth University found that “cannabinoids work at controlling seizures.” The cannabinoids activate a protein, commonly known as the CB1 receptor, that is responsible for “controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.”
And it’s not just epilepsy.
Patients suffering the symptoms of Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe disorder that causes seizures and developmental delays, are also finding some relief thanks to cannabis use.
Parents of five-year-old Colorado native Charlotte Figi had found little benefit in conventional medications for treating their daughter’s condition. They did, however, see a drop in the frequency and intensity of her seizures – from 300 per week, to just one approximately every seven days – once they began treating her with CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid.
Cannabis Slows Progression of Alzheimer’s
It doesn’t get much scarier than Alzheimer’s Disease. A debilitating, progressive disease with no known cure, stealing memories and experiences from lives around the world. But that could all be changing. A 2006 study done by Kim Janda, of the Scripps Institute in California, found that THC blocks the accumulation of amyloid plaque, the primary marker for Alzheimer’s, better than anything currently used. It does so by blocking the enzyme that makes the plaques. The plaques kill brain cells, causing Alzheimer’s.
“These findings offer convincing evidence that THC possesses remarkable inhibitory qualities,” said Janda in conversation with MSNBC, “especially when compared to AChE inhibitors currently available to patients.”
More recently, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, reported similar findings to support the effectiveness of THC in “prohibiting the growth of toxic amyloid plagues.”
Cannabis Benefits Cancer Treatment
We’ve all heard that cannabis is beneficial for cancer patients. The FDA has approved its use (in the form of Nabilone) when prescribed by a doctor anywhere in the U.S., and tens of thousands of cancer patients already use the medicine for relief from harsh chemotherapy, but what if it did something more? What if cannabis could stop cancer? Recent studies say it very possibly can. The mounting evidence supports the potential for THC actually to prevent the spread of the disease.
Researchers at the San Francisco-based California Pacific Medical Center reported that CBD may help to prevent cancer cells from spreading.
The study focuses on ID-1, the gene that has one job: it causes cancer to spread. Pierre Desprez, one of the scientists responsible for the groundbreaking research has spent ‘decades’ studying the gene. Desprez joined forces with fellow scientist Sean McAllister, who was working with the effects of CBD. The pairing resulted in research that shows, “Cannabidiol could essentially ‘turn off’ the ID-1.”
The American Association for Cancer Research also reports that marijuana can impede tumor growth in lungs, breast and brain cancers.
Cannabis Lessons: Side-Effects in Hepatitis C Treatments, Increases Overall Treatment Effectiveness
The treatment for Hepatitis C, a potentially deadly viral infection affecting nearly 4 million Americans, is long, costly and painful to endure. Consisting of months-long therapy of two heavy hitting pharmaceuticals, ribavirin and interferon – the side effects of which include intense fatigue, severe muscle aches, nausea, depression and loss of appetite – causes many patients actually to stop taking the treatment, despite resulting permanent liver damage.
But a 2006 study, published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology reported that 86% of patients who used cannabis, completed their Hepatitis C therapy when compared to 29% of those who did not use cannabis. The study also reported that the effectiveness of the treatment appeared to be enhanced. They said that 54% of patients who used cannabis kept their viral levels low, compared to only 8% of non-users.
Cannabis Calm Parkinson’s Tremors
Israeli researchers recently discovered the benefits of marijuana on Parkinson’s disease tremors and associated pain.
Ruth Djaldetti, MD, of Tel Aviv University Israel, presented the findings of her report at the International Congress on Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. She explained how people living with the debilitating disease ranked their disease on a standardized “Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale.” The UPDRS rating helps medical professionals understand the scope of a patient’s personal difficulties. Before using cannabis, patients reported an average rank of 33. Approximately thirty minutes after using cannabis, these same patients reported a drop to an average rank of 24.
In conversation with Ed Susman of MedPage Today, Dr. Djaldetti said, “We not only saw improvement in tremor in these patients, but also in rigidity and in bradykinesia.” Dr. Djaldetti said she “would recommend use of marijuana to my patients.”
Cannabis has also been reported to be a good sleep aid for many people living with Parkinson’s. But perhaps the most interesting findings were the reports of increased fine motor skills among patients who used cannabis.
The benefits of marijuana are real. With mounting evidence supporting the wide and varied uses of cannabis as a life-enhancing medication, we can only hope it will soon receive the widespread recognition it so readily deserves.
Once you understand the different ways to consume medical marijuana, it’s important to have a basis for how you manage your cannabis dosing.
Cannabis dosing depends on the person, condition being treated, and consumption method. The following is not medical advice and is meant only to provide general guidelines to approach medicating with cannabis.
Hint: Seek the opinion of your primary doctor or a cannabis specialist to learn if marijuana might be right for you. Additionally, when using cannabis for the first time, do so under close-watch of someone you trust with extensive cannabis experience.
Learn Which Consumption Method Is Best for You
Cannabis medicines are infused with CBD:THC rich extracts, and come in sublingual sprays, edibles, flowers, tinctures, concentrates and other forms. Depending on your condition, dose sensitivity, and other factors, one consumption type may be better than another.
Hint: experiment with different consumption types to see which is most effective for you. Be conservative when trying a new form of consumption.
Begin with a Low Dose
Especially for those with little or no experience using cannabis, start small and slowly increase your doses. Many recommend starting with a 10mg dose and working your way up in 5-10mg increments. Want to see specific stats on successful cannabis dosing experiments? Click here.
Spread Out Your Doses
If you’re a novice user, take multiple small doses over the course of a day, rather than a large dose at once. It’ll let you stay active and aware of how the marijuana is affecting you.
Find Your THC:CBD Ratio
Cannabis products have varying amounts of CBD and THC. Different combinations of the two help treat different ailments and types of pain, and the two together are said to enhance each other’s therapeutic effects.
For maximum benefit, choose cannabis products that include both cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.
Experiment Before Making Major Changes
Once you’ve found the right CBD/THC ratio and dose level that suits you, observe the effects over at least a short period of time (one week is recommended). Then consider if you need to adjust the type or amount of cannabis you consume to produce the desired effect.
Don’t Overdo It
Often with cannabinoid therapeutics, “less is more.” With cannabinoid compounds, higher doses of CBD may not be as effective as low or moderate doses. In some individuals, too much THC can increase anxiety and cause mood disorders, among other side effects.
Hint: Start with a CBD-rich remedy, and slowly increase the amount of THC in your cannabis doses until you find a balance you’re comfortable with.
Consider the Condition You’re Treating
Anxiety, depression, spasms, and other pediatric seizure disorders may be better treated with a moderate dose of a CBD-dominant remedy—look for a CBD:THC ratio of more than 14:1. For cancer or neuropathic pain, you may need more THC, for instance, a 1:1 ratio.
As with any medication, it’s important to exercise caution when using cannabis. Understand the differences in chemical composition between different cannabis strains (sativa, indica, hybrid).
With the disappointing lack of cannabis research, it’s important to look to others’ experiences with cannabis for guidance on proper use. Know your medical history, and consult with your doctor or a cannabis specialist before use.
Ask us. We’re here to give you the information and resources you need to make an informed decision about cannabis use. Just comment below with any questions!