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HOW DOES
MEDICAL CANNABIS
WORK ON THE BODY

Cannabis is a Medicine

Medical cannabis has been shown to be effective in the treatment of:

 

● Chronic pain

● Seizure disorders

● Muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis

● Poor appetite and weight loss caused by chronic illness, such as HIV/AIDS, or nerve pain

● Nausea from cancer chemotherapy

● Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease

● Anxiety

● Nausea

● Inflammation

 

There are hundreds of chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that work together to provide relief to an array of symptoms. These compounds work by imitating compounds our bodies already produce called endocannabinoids. All humans have an endocannabinoid system, the balance of which works to ensure internal stability and health. Cannabinoids help negotiate the communication between cells.

 

When there is a problem with our endocannabinoid system, unpleasant symptoms and complications can occur. When you consume cannabis, cannabinoids bind to receptors in the nervous system in both the brain (CB-1 receptors) and the body (CB-2 receptors). Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. For example, THC binds to receptors in the brain, while CBN (cannabinol) will typically bind to receptors in the body.

 

Cannabinoids Depending on strain, concentration, and other factors, cannabis can have diverse cannabinoid profiles. These differences in cannabinoid makeup can lead to several different types of relief. Cannabis contains over 100 different cannabinoids, many of which have documented medical value.

 

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most studied cannabinoid. Among its many therapeutic uses, THC is used to treat tumors, inflammation, pain, spasms, nausea, anxiety and can affect perception, mood, or behavior.

 

● Cannabidiol (CBD) is used to treat convulsions, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea. It has many of the same therapeutic qualities as THC but without THC’s distinct mood effects. Some strains of cannabis are specifically grown to be rich in CBD.

 

● Cannabinol (CBN) when administered alone has no reported effect in humans. It may increase the effects of THC related to mood, decreasing pressure within the eye, and seizures.

 

● Cannabichromene (CBC) promotes the pain relief effects of THC and has calming effects

● Cannabigerol (CBG) has calming effects and antimicrobial properties. It can also lower the pressure within the eye.

 

● Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is showing promise for type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders.

 

Products and strains are continually being produced and grown that deliver varying doses of cannabinoids. Knowing which types best treat which symptoms is a handy piece of knowledge to bring to a medical cannabis dispensary or to provide to a patient.

 

Methods of Administration Medical cannabis can be:

● Smoked

● Vaporized (heated until release of the active ingredients, but with no smoke)

● Eaten (usually in the form of cookies or candy)

● Taken as a liquid extract

 

 

Ensuring Safe and Legal Access Ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis means:

 

● Laws and regulations recognize cannabis as a legal medicine.

● Medical professionals are able to recommend medical cannabis as a frontline treatment option when appropriate.

● Patients and their caregivers have the information they need to make educated decisions.

● Patients and medical professionals can create personalized treatment by incorporating a diversity of products and delivery methods.

● Patients can trust labels on products, and trust that medicines are free of pesticides and contaminants.

● Health insurance covers medical cannabis.

Medical Professionals Say Cannabis is Medicine

 

Thousands of studies published in peer-reviewed journals indicate cannabis has medical value in treating patients with such serious conditions as AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, and chronic pain, as well as a variety of such neurological disorders as multiple sclerosis, Parkinsonism, and ALS.

A 2013 poll conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine found that three out of four clinicians would recommend the use of medical cannabis for a hypothetical cancer patient.13 The use of medical cannabis has been endorsed by numerous professional organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association, and the American Nurses Association. Its use is supported by such leading medical publications as The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. The International Cannabinoid Research Society was formally incorporated as a scientific research organization in 1991 with 50 members; as of 2014, there are nearly 500 around the world. The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM), founded in 2000, publishes a bi-weekly bulletin and holds international symposia to highlight emerging research in cannabis therapeutics.

The safety and efficacy of cannabis has been attested to by numerous government studies and reports issued over the past 70 years. These include the 1944 LaGuardia Report, the Schafer Commission Report in 1972, a review commissioned by the British House of Lords in 1997, the Institutes of Medicine report of 1999, research sponsored by Health Canada, and numerous studies conducted in the Netherlands, where cannabis has been quasi-legal since 1976 and is currently available from pharmacies by prescription.

Scientific Research Advances

 

More than 15,000 modern peer-reviewed scientific articles on the chemistry and pharmacology of cannabis and cannabinoids have been published, as well as more than 2,000 articles on the body's natural cannabinoids and the receptors they attach to.[14] The discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) opened a door to new understandings of how the body regulates internal systems and how the phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant interact with it. Endocannabinoids are crucial to bioregulation, and evidence suggests they play a role in inflammation, insulin sensitivity, and fat and energy metabolism, as well as chronic neurologic and immune conditions. The cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are identified targets for treating a remarkable variety of serious medical conditions.[15-18] 

A 2009 review of controlled clinical studies with medical cannabis conducted over a 38-year period found that “nearly all of the 33 published controlled clinical trials conducted in the United States have shown significant and measurable benefits in subjects receiving the treatment.”[19] The review's authors note that the more than 100 different cannabinoids in cannabis have the capacity for analgesia through neuromodulation in ascending and descending pain pathways, neuroprotection, and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids has expanded considerably in the past decade. As of May 2014, the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, a state-funded $8.7-million research effort at University of California campuses, had completed 13 approved studies. Of those, seven published double-blind, placebo-controlled studies examined pain relief, and each showed cannabis to be effective

No adverse health effects related to medical cannabis use have been reported, even among the most seriously ill and immune-compromised patients. Research on CD4 immunity in AIDS patients found no negative effects to the immune systems of patients undergoing cannabis therapy in clinical trials.[21] A complete health assessment in 2002 of four of the patients enrolled in the U.S. Investigational New Drug program who had used cannabis daily for between 11 and 27 years found cannabis to be clinically effective for each with no negative health consequences.[22]


In the United Kingdom, GW Pharmaceuticals has been conducting clinical trials for more than a decade with its cannabis medicine, Sativex® Oromucosal Spray, a controlled-dose whole-plant extract. GW's Phase II and Phase III trials show positive results for the relief of neurological pain related to: multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury, peripheral nerve injury (including peripheral neuropathy secondary to diabetes mellitus or AIDS), central nervous system damage, neuroinvasive cancer, dystonias, cerebral vascular accident, and spina bifida. They have also shown cannabinoids to be effective in clinical trials for the relief of pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and also pain relief in brachial plexus injury.

Sativex® was approved in Canada for symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in 2005, in 2007 for patients with advanced cancer whose pain is not fully alleviated by opiates, and in 2010 for spasticity related to multiple sclerosis. As of 2014, Sativex has been made available or approved for named patient prescription use in 24 countries, including the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany.

In the US, GW was granted an import license for Sativex® by the DEA following meetings in 2005 with the FDA, DEA, the Office for National Drug Control Policy, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse. Sativex® is currently an investigational drug in FDA-approved clinical trials as an adjunctive analgesic treatment for patients with advanced cancer whose pain is not relieved by opioids.

 

In 2013, GW Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval to test a highly purified cannabinoid extract (cannabidiol or CBD) named Epidiolex® on a limited number of US children with seizure disorders. As of January 2014, seven US pediatric epilepsy specialists have been approved to treat 125 children with Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and other pediatric epilepsy syndromes.