The evidence base for medicinal uses of cannabis is growing, but is still a work in progress. Scientific and clinical studies indicate that cannabis can be effective in easing symptoms of a wide range of difficult-to-control conditions, including: rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, PTSD, epilepsy, antibiotic-resistant infections and neurological disorders. It has also demonstrated neuroprotective effects, and its anti-cancer potential is building.
Active Ingredients of Cannabis
Cannabis is a herb that grows naturally and can be used for medicinal purposes. It is also known as medical marijuana. There are two main types of compounds in the plant: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
There are over 85 active cannabinoid compounds present in cannabis plants.
The most studied at present include delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD has a wider scope of medical applications and does not have any of the psychoactive effects associated with THC, and may modulate some of the effects of THC.
CBD and THC levels tend to vary between different strains and varieties of cannabis. CBD does not cause a high, unlike THC. The reason why CBD is non-psychoactive is due to its lack of affinity for CB1 receptors.CB1 receptors are found in high concentrations in the brain, and are the pathways responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC.
Despite a different pathway of action, CBD possesses many of the same benefits of THC as well as its own unique properties.
CBD-rich strains are now being grown for medical users.
Safety of Medical Cannabis
To date, no reports indicate anyone has died from overdosing with Cannabis. Cannabis and its psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, have an excellent safety profile according to the United States Drug Awareness Warning Network Annual Report.
Dr. Grinspoon (Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Grinspoon was senior psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Centre in Boston for 40 years) had this to say in a 1995 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “One of marijuana’s greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions.”
Medical Cannabis Treatment for Many Conditions
The reason Cannabis works so well for so many diseases and conditions, is the endocannabinoid system, a central component of the health and healing of every human and almost every animal.
Combinations of THC and CBD have shown efficacy in the treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. This may be partly related to its analgesic effects, but also to its anti-inflammatory and other properties.
Cannabis helps with neuropathic pain that does not respond well to pain relieving treatments, such as opioids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
Neuropathic pain’, which generally refers to pain that stems from diseased or damaged nerves imposes a huge health burden. Researchers in the United States are testing the use of cannabis to treat the pain associated with sickle cell disease – a condition in which mutated blood cells can cause lifetime chronic pain that has been described as being worse than the pain of labour or cancer.
Cannabinoids, especially CBD has been found to have possible antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, and anti-tumour effects.
The effects of cannabinoids can differ significantly with different dosages which is an area of research by Curus Medical in its case studies.
Curus Medical has shown that cannabinoids are a useful adjutant treatment for some groups of patients who do not respond to or cannot tolerate treatments with greater demonstrated efficacy. Medical cannabis is also being investigated for treatment of psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. A recent US study found a 75 per cent reduction in PTSD symptoms with the use of medical cannabis, and in many US states medical cannabis is approved for use in individuals with PTSD.
There is also growing support for the use of cannabis to treat severe childhood epilepsies, as Curus Medical’s Case Studies have borne with evidence from parents suggesting cannabis drastically reduced the frequency of their children’s seizures.
This strong public support perhaps reflects the existence of much evidence of its efficacy, as well as the belief that its use is primarily by terminally ill patients who lack other treatment options.
Therapeutic Cannabis Vs Medical Marijuana
Is there a difference between medical cannabis and medical marijuana? No, not really. The general population tends to refer to cannabis as marijuana, but those involved in the research and medical use of it tend to refer to it as cannabis because that’s its scientific name and because marijuana is associated with the recreational use. (It’s also sometimes referred to as medicinal hemp oil.)