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In 1968, John Lennon asked, “You say you want a revolution?” and nearly a half century later, eminent physicians and scientists have responded. Sanjay Gupta, MD, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN, hosted a three-part series, including, “Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution,” exploring the latest news on cannabis. In an Op Ed on CNN’s website he wrote, “We should legalize marijuana. We should do it nationally. And, we should do it now.” Jim Hendrix “kissed the sky” in the smoke filled Woodstock air, but now “times they are a changin'.”
The venerable New England Journal of Medicine published a survey taken in 2013 in which 76 percent of physicians from 72 different countries and 56 different states and provinces in North America approved of medical marijuana use.
The physicians were asked if they would give “Marilyn” (not Monroe, but a pretend sixty-eight-year-old female whose breast cancer had spread throughout her body) medical marijuana to help her with her symptoms. The physicians’ response was an overwhelming yes.
David Bearman, MD has been published in the Harvard Business Review, and the Wall Street Journal named him Doctor of the Day in 2007. His opinion piece in the Seattle Times last year lauded the fact that “modern research is being done around the world to document the purported therapeutic benefits demonstrated in cannabis’ 4,000 years of medicinal use.” Dr. Bearman’s examples included research conducted on patients at residential care facilities. In the twilight of their life, they turned to things cannabinoids do besides get you high:
- Make you agitated
- Increase appetite
- Treat insomnia
- Treat many medical ailments
- Stabilize mood swings
If you were given a choice between ingesting something from nature or something from a FF (foreign factory according to the FDA), which would you choose?
It’s a no-brainer. Or as Jeff Spicola said in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the 1982 coming-of-age comedy starring the young Sean Penn, “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”
Cannabis by any other name, be it marijuana, pot, or weed, is a plant made up of 483 different compounds that affect our central nervous system as a result of anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and sedative properties. The plant contains chemicals that are both psychoactive (THC) and non-psychoactive (CBD) and it can be smoked, eaten, vaporized, or ingested as an oil, but the benefits can be summed up in one phrase: it makes you feel better. Below are the things cannabinoids do besides get you high, which in turn offer another treatment option for those suffering from many conditions and diseases. Here’s how!
Protects the Brain
The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in the United States and is watched by millions. The NFL is spending millions to address head trauma. What does cannabis have to do with football? It’s a potential treatment for traumatic brain injury.
"Medical Cannabis: Pharmacy Focus on Treatment Options for Neurological Conditions," by Deborah Berlekamp, PharmD, BCPS, published in the medical journal U.S. Pharmacist explains how the cannabis components are successfully treating conditions such as traumatic brain injury by providing protection and reversing the damage to brain cells, among other many neurological conditions. In addition, it relieves the headaches and dizziness a person may experience after suffering a concussion.
Researchers and chiefs of top tier institutions and colleges, such as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Duke University, and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus also believe medical marijuana has wide-ranging possibilities when it comes to diseases and conditions. Besides protecting football players, who else might benefit?
- Those suffering head injuries (car wrecks, sports injuries, falls, accidents) by reversing the damage to brain cells.
- Alzheimer’s patients by stimulating the removal of toxic plaque in the brain and blocking inflammation which damages the brain cells.
- Dementia diagnosed seniors by alleviating the confusion and agitation that often occurs.
- Migraine headache sufferers by reducing the number of migraines.
- Epileptic children by reducing seizures, increasing alertness, sleeping better, and better moods.
Pain is the noisy alarm clock waking us out of our peaceful sleep. It doesn’t care if you’re a millennial juggling multiple roles, or the CEO of a tech start-up in Seattle, or a granny slaving over the stove; It hurts like hell. The use of cannabis for chronic pain is supported by credible medical literature reviewed in journals with findings that it produced the desired result: the pain stopped.
What causes pain?
- Back Injury
- A million conditions
- A million diseases
Stops the Nausea
Picture this: He’s twenty-something with hollow eyes staring at his wasting body as he undergoes chemotherapy one more time. Flashback. The nausea is unrelenting and unforgiving as he crawls his way to one more day.
Chemotherapy isn’t the only therapeutic treatment that causes nausea and vomiting. But with the prevalence of cancer, it’s the elephant in the room. Like pain, there is no redeeming virtue to experiencing nausea or puking your guts out. If the pills don’t work, is there any other means of relief? Yes! Cannabis effectively controls nausea and vomiting. End of story.
Medical Cannabis: A Work in Progress
As of June, 2016, cannabis is legal in half of the United States. Legislation is pending in several states. Yet marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the DEA, Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals “are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. They do not include any prescription pills like Xanax, OxyContin, Valium, or Ritalin. Ask any teenager which they can “score” easier: heroin or Xanax? Cannabis funding and research is extremely limited compared to the pharmaceuticals’ budget.
The Top 10
The top 10 diseases potentially impacted by cannabis are:
- Chronic Pain
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
I think the most important impact is missing from this list. It’s not a disease or a condition. It’s a concept of care for those with little time left—Hospice. “Hospice affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.”
If the goal is to make your life as comfortable as possible while refusing to acknowledge the diagnosis, then without a doubt there are things cannabinoids do besides get you high.
To Eat or Not to Eat... That is the Question
Here’s the good news: Cannabis stimulates and suppresses your appetite. It has to do with cells found throughout our bodies and components of cannabis, one of which is controversial, CB1, a component used by drug firms that was linked to depression. Therefore, research is still needed to find out more about cannabis’ appetite switch.
The pharmaceutical industry has a plethora of drugs to calm your rattled nerves, sedate your mind and quell your fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, the side effects, even the common ones, can leave you feeling worse. Cannabis has improved a veteran’s sleep and ability to cope when they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The ingredients in cannabis, at the right dosage, are effective in reducing anxiety at the cellular level.
Xanax, a popular anti-anxiety drug includes the following in their list of common (not major) side effects:
- Memory impairment
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Weight gain
- Skin rash
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Decreased libido
- Increased appetite
- Decreased appetite
- Sexual disorder
- Muscle twitching
Recently, a Gallup Poll reported 50 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Marijuana—medical or otherwise. Seventy five percent favor legalizing medical marijuana. Long before man-made concoctions, some of our best remedies have come from Mother Earth.
The International Cannabinoid Society is a “non-political, non-religious organization dedicated to scientific research in all fields of the cannabinoids.” The conference is an “open forum for researchers to meet and discuss their research.” Medicine requires research. Laws reflect the culture’s morality. Until the two meet, much will be lost.