Education: Conditions Treated by Cannabis

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries located in Missouri


A Brief Description
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the New York Yankees Hall-of-Famer, is a neurological condition affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that are responsible for mobility. As the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge brought national attention in 2014, motor function and control of the limbs and vital organs are lost as these neurons degenerate. Approximately 30,000 Americans can have the disease at any given time. Although the exact cause of ALS is unknown, it has been linked to an overabundance of free radicals in the body, which cause damage to the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. When these motor neurons are damaged and die, the body loses the ability to control muscle movement and function of vital organs. Symptoms can vary from person to person and include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, depression, lack of appetite, debilitating loss of coordination, and eventually difficulty controlling speech, swallowing and breathing. While not all people with ALS experience the same symptoms or the same patterns of progression, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis are universally experienced. Unfortunately, there is no cure and treatment options are limited.


How Can Cannabis Help?
The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite, and pain — the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids. At least five of the cannabinoids found in cannabis are shown to alleviate some of the symptoms caused by ALS, and a few are linked to slowing the development of the condition or helping to delay the onset. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component known for producing the feeling of being “high.” This component works to reduce pain and inflammation, stimulate the appetite, and can even battle depression by uplifting a patient’s mood. THC also acts as a neuroprotectant. Cannabichromene, or CBC, enhances the medical efficacy of THC, thereby increasing the healing powers of THC. Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to significantly reduce muscle spasms, relieve inflammation and act as a powerful antioxidant which helps to remove free radicals from the body. Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is also an effective anti-inflammatory. Like THC, CBD, and THCV, Cannabinol (CBN) also fights inflammation while also reducing muscle spasms. CBN is also an effective sleep aid or sedative that can help patients rest even when in severe pain.


Some Real Stories
Dr. Gary Carter, Medical Director of the St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington – and an expert in treating neuromuscular disorders – has witnessed many ALS patients benefit from the use of cannabis. Dr. Cater has stated, “[w]e know more about cannabis than 95 percent of other medicines. Cannabis is custom made to treat ALS.” In 1985, Cathy Jordan began experiencing difficulty with basic motor skills. In the following year, she was diagnosed with ALS and given 3 to 5 years to live. In the winter of 1989, Jordan was in Florida during the holidays and tried smoking pot – she immediately felt her symptoms cease. As is all too often the case, Jordan’s doctors were her choice to medicate with cannabis. “I visited a neurologist at Duke University. When I told him that I was smoking cannabis, he didn’t know what to do with me. He was afraid. He wouldn’t even take my blood pressure because I was using an illegal drug.” The doctor actually tried to convince her husband to have her committed. Fortunately, Jordan met a new doctor in 1994 who couldn’t believe the progress in her symptoms – when she advised this doctor that she was medicating with cannabis his response was “smoke all the cannabis you can…” Cathy Jordan ended up becoming the inspiration for Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative in Florida, entitled the “Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Amendment” that came up for vote last November.

Alzheimer’s disease

A Brief Description
The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disorder named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer who first diagnosed it in 1906 after performing an autopsy on the brain of a woman who died of an unfamiliar mental illness. Although the exact cause of the disorder is not known, the disorder damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions. Alzheimer’s usually develops slowly and gradually gets worse as brain function declines and brain cells eventually wither and die. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulty remembering newly learned information
  • Disorientation
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Deepening confusion about events, time and place
  • Unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers
  • Serious memory loss and behavior changes
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking
    • The most recent research, however, shows medical cannabis to be a viable treatment option for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.

How Can Cannabis Help?
The human brain is lined with endocannabinoid receptors that are responsible for regulating many body systems including mood, memory, pain, and appetite. When these communication pathways become clogged, as seen with amyloid plaques and tangles in Alzheimer’s patients, the ability to regulate these systems deteriorates, resulting in symptoms like memory loss and mood instability. Medical cannabis binds to the same receptors that the endocannabinoids do, some as perfectly as a key fits a lock, working to fill in the missing pieces of the healthy brain puzzle. As pointed out by Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “It’s time for a medical marijuana revolution” report, medical cannabis could significantly reduce the demand for pharmaceutical therapies, which often just add to the confusion and irritability of Alzheimer’s patients. Medical cannabinoids help to remove excess amyloid plaques from the brain by escorting them through the blood-brain barrier, thereby reducing the progression of Alzheimer’s and significantly reducing the severity of symptoms. Medical cannabis research studies are returning hope to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders and their loved-ones or caretakers with recent findings and conclusions that the benefits of medical cannabis treatments far outweigh any risks. It has been revealed that cannabinoids can slow or even halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by improving the condition of communication pathways in the brain. THC, the best-known psychoactive cannabinoid, prevents brain-clogging plaques from growing larger or from even forming in the brain altogether.


What Does The Research Say?
In a 2006 study by Kim Janda, Ph.D., Janda stated that the study shows “that there is a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which THC may directly affect the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.” Janda’s team found that THC limits the progression of the disease by blocking an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme speeds the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. In March of 2014, research experts concluded that CBD, the best-known non-psychoactive cannabinoid in medical cannabis, can actually improve the memory loss and mood instability symptoms experienced by those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. CBD works to reverse the neurological damage in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s by establishing new neurons, in a process called neurogenesis. At the same time, CBD helps to strengthen the body’s natural defenses, allowing the immune system to work smarter in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease.


A Brief Description
Cachexia, often referred to as “wasting syndrome”, is diagnosed when a person experiences a severe loss of body mass without making an effort to lose weight. With what is typically a progressive onset, cachexia is most often a symptom of an underlying condition such as cancer, AIDS, or multiple sclerosis. It is estimated that about 50 percent of all cancer patients will develop cancer cachexia. Those with cachexia suffer from a severe lack of appetite and find it difficult to combat the loss of lean body mass (muscle) even when consuming a sufficient amount of nutritionally dense calories. As a result, those suffering from cachexia often experience symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy, depression, nausea and overall poor quality of life.


How Can Cannabis Help?
Although the treatment options for cachexia patients are dependent on the underlying cause, the typical regimen involves some form of a pharmaceutical appetite stimulant. Experts today reveal why medical cannabis is such an effective treatment option for those suffering from cachexia, and even many of the underlying conditions like cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. The organic chemical compounds responsible for much of the healing characteristics of cannabis, called cannabinoids, bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the human brain and body that are responsible for regulating several body systems including pain, appetite, mood, and memory. What most people may not realize is that several of the pharmaceuticals are synthetic replicas of medical cannabinoids. Whereas patients often report that the pharmaceutical therapies are less than successful, many patients report finding relief in the use of whole plant medical cannabis. Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at San Francisco General, reports that most of the AIDS and cancer patients that he treats who suffer from cachexia prefer smoking or vaporizing medical cannabis to taking the pill forms of synthetic THC, like durnabinol or Marinol, because they are able to more accurately titrate or dose through inhalation. Cancer and Aids cachexia patients also reported preferring the rapid onset provided by smoking or vaporizing, which can provide effective relief in just a few minutes, over waiting for a pill to be processed by the gastrointestinal tract.


What Does The Research Say?
While the anecdotal evidence has always been plentiful regarding cannabis’ impact as an appetite stimulant (…often referred to as the “munchies”) only recently have we seen clinical studies that have been able to explain this phenomenon. Several studies have revealed that the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, is particularly effective at stimulating appetite and weight gain. Another 2005 study conducted in New York state revealed that medical cannabis produced substantial increases in appetite without producing adverse effects. The same study also noted that participants displayed a positive shift in mood. Most notably, a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers, titled “Neuroscience: A cellular basis for the munchies,” was published in the February 18th issue of the journal Nature. The research is part of a larger effort to understand how the brain controls a person’s appetite. The cause of the appetite stimulation resides within the same neurons that are known to produce the feeling of being full, which under normal circumstances effectively suppress the appetite. Under normal circumstances, the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) fire and it causes the body to produce a hormone call a-melanocyte (a-MSH). The a-MSH then signals the body to stop eating by sending the feeling of being full. When cannabinoids are introduced to the body, it causes the POMC to work backwards. Instead of signaling the a-MSH to produce feelings of fullness, the POMC send signals of hunger that result in an increased appetite. This new discovery has the ability to open doors to a whole new world of appetite stimulation for patients suffering from conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS and other patients whose traditional treatment regimen results in a loss of appetite or difficulty eating.


A Brief Description
The term cancer is used to describe several related diseases which result in the abnormal growth of cells within the human body. These abnormal cells can grow almost anywhere including the brain, breasts, lungs, pancreas, prostate, blood, bladder, colon and skin. Cancerous cells are able to divide and spread quickly, resulting in the buildup of solid masses known as tumors. The first cause of cancer was documented in 1775 when British surgeon Percivall Pott realized that certain tumors were prevalent among chimney sweeps. Today, there are more than 100 different known types of cancer, and it is estimated that more than 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with one form or another in 2015. Cancer claims the lives of approximately 600,000 people in the US each year. In 2012 there were an estimated 14.1 million new cases of cancer diagnosed (with 8 million deaths) in the world – this number is expected to increase to 24 million by 2035.


How Can Cannabis Help?
The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite and pain. In much the same manner that the human body’s endocrine system receptors respond to opiates – the root compounds of many pain relieving medications like morphine, codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin) – the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids. Interestingly, years before any state had passed medical cannabis legislation, a study issued in 1991 by Harvard Medical School found that Forty-Four percent (44%) of US oncologists were recommending cannabis to their patients to help relieve the side effects from traditional cancer treatments.


Symptom Relief
Unfortunately, many people with cancer experience significant discomfort from both the illness itself and the side effects from conventional medications. Research has shown cannabis to be effective in treating many symptoms of cancer or side effects from conventional cancer treatments since the 1970s. Numerous studies over the past three decades have reported that the use of cannabis reduces pain, nausea, vomiting and stimulates appetites in patients receiving chemotherapy treatment. A 1999 Institutes of Medicine report noted that for “patients already experiencing severe nausea or vomiting, pills are generally ineffective, because of the difficulty in swallowing or keeping a pill down, and slow onset of the drug effect…nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety…all can be mitigated by (inhaling) marijuana.”


Condition Relief
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), “Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow.” Recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revised a publication on medical cannabis to include language specifically acknowledging that “recent animal studies have shown that marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others.” Furthermore, one cell culture study suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors.”


Real Life Stories
While there are countless stories related to the efficacy of cannabis in dealing with the side effects associated with common cancer treatments (as stated above, even in 1991 roughly 44% of oncologists in America were recommending that their patients consume cannabis for relief), there are a significant number of wonderful stories where people have utilized a cannabis-based treatment protocol to help beat cancer into remission. Sharon Kelly is a British woman in her fifties that was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2013. Sharon was diagnosed at Stage 4, the cancer had progressed to her lymph nodes and the lining of her stomach. Her doctors advised Sharon that chemotherapy and radiation were not valid treatment options for a lung cancer patient at this stage of diagnosis and would truly just make her more sick. She was given six to nine months to live. Shortly thereafter, Sharon began consuming cannabis oil on a daily basis – two grams per day along with a healthy, alkalizing diet. After a couple of months the tumor had decreased from 5 cm to 2cm and her lymph nodes were appearing normal. After seven months – with no other medical therapy or treatments – Sharon tested cancer-free and has remained so to this day. A truly wonderful result utilizing a cannabis-based treatment protocol.

Chronic Pain

A Brief Description
After undergoing an operation, voluntary or otherwise, the road to recovery is paved differently for each patient. Although anesthesia may prevent patients from feeling it at the time, nerves send pain signals to the brain when the tissues or organs are operated on (effectively, damaged). As the body begins to heal after surgery, the severity and duration of the post-operative pain should subside. For some patients, however, the post-operative pain persists for months or even years and is often resistant to treatment. Chronic postoperative pain, defined as pain lasting more than six months after an operation, can occur as the result of many different factors including the formation of scar tissue, nerve damage, tissue damage, and inflammation. Pain is not a primary condition or injury, but rather a severe, frequently intolerable symptom that varies in frequency, duration, and severity according to the individual. Chronic pain is a public health issue that is widespread across the aging populations of industrialized nations. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. Unfortunately, most are put on pain treatment plans that result in long-term opiate use.


How Can Cannabis Help?
Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung documented using the “fundamental herb” (medical cannabis) to treat pain in his 2737 BCE pharmacopeia. Throughout history, pain relief has been one of the predominant reasons for utilizing cannabis for medicinal purposes. The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite and pain. In much the same manner that the human body’s endocrine system receptors respond to opiates – the root compounds of many pain relieving medications like morphine, codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin) – the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids. For patients in pain, the goal is to reduce their pain as much as possible while allowing them to still function as fully as possible. While opioids are the most commonly prescribed treatment for post-operative pain, many patients report preferring the efficacy of medical cannabis because it alleviates the pain without the debilitating side effects often associated with the pharmaceutical alternative. Cannabis is a very versatile option for pain relief for several reasons – it has inherent analgesic/pain relieving qualities, side effects can be minimal and it is capable of working in concert with other traditional prescription medications while also helping to alleviate some of the regular side effects associated with opiates like nausea, vomiting and dizziness.


What Does The Research Say?
As with other conditions, there is a countless amount of anecdotal research that has proven the pain relieving efficacy of cannabis – going back to the beginning of documented cannabis use over 5,000 years ago, pain relief has been a consistent physiological effect seen from cannabis use. The experience of the leading medical experts has revealed that medical cannabis can be used to safely and effectively treat a wide variety of medical conditions, including chronic post-operative pain, and it is often a successful therapy option when nothing else works. Where chronic post-operative pain is often resistant to pharmaceutical therapies, even very low doses of medical cannabis have shown to effectively reduce symptoms, and experts report that the benefits of medical cannabis far outweigh the risks. Dr. Anita Holdcroft, a lead researcher from Imperial College London, stated, “[p]ain after surgery continues to be a problem because so many of the commonly used drugs are either ineffective or have too many side effects. These results show that cannabinoids are effective.” A study released in 2011 from the scientific journal for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that the combination of cannabis with opiates may have a synergistic effect. When patients received regular doses of cannabis along with their twice-daily doses of prescribed opioids, on average participants reported a 27 percent greater decrease in pain. In Australia in 2014, chronic pain patients reported supplementing their pharmaceutical treatment regimens with the use of medical cannabis, noting that there was a significant difference in efficacy between using only the opioids and combining the medical cannabis with the opioids. Chronic pain patients who participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study revealed that small doses of vaporized medical cannabis provided at least the equivalent efficacy in pain reduction as traditional neuropathic pain medication, but without significant impact on daily functioning.


Is Cannabis As Safe As Traditional Prescription Medicine?
One of the most important aspects of using medical cannabis in lieu of opiates for the treatment of pain is directly tied to the comparable risks for lethal overdose – as you’ll see below, the statistics and facts are compelling. Opiates:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 1999 the amount of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled.
    Every day in the U.S. 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose.
  • Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2013 – among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.
  • Of the 22,767 deaths related to prescription drug overdose, approximately 16,235 involved prescription opioid painkillers (71.3%).
  • In 2007, the aggregate cost of prescription opioid abuse (lost productivity, healthcare costs and criminal justice cost) totaled $55.7 billion.

Cannabis: In 1988, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrative law Judge Francis L. Young, Docket No. 86-22 found the following facts to be uncontroverted:

  • There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.
  • Despite a long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible medical reports to suggest that consuming marijua,na has caused a single death.
  • Drugs used in medicine are routinely given what is called an LD-50. This rating indicates at what dosage fifty percent of test animals receiving a drug will die as a result of drug induced toxicity.
  • The LD-50 rating for aspirin is 1:20. In layman’s terms this means that if the recommended dosage of aspirin is two pills, in order to induce death a person would need to consume 40 pills (20xs the recommended dosage). For valium it’s 1:10 and for some cancer medications it can be as low as 1:1.5.
  • At present it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:30,000 or 1:40,000 – in order to induce death a person would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response.
  • In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume.

Crohn’s Disease

A Brief Description
Crohn’s disease, named after the scientist who first diagnosed the symptoms, is a form of inflammatory bowel disease affecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. This severe inflammation can cause tears which lead to infection. As many as 700,000 Americans may suffer from Crohn’s disease affecting men and women equally. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
    Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation
  • Constipation (which can lead to bowel obstruction)
  • General symptoms can include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats and loss of normal menstrual cycle.
  • The exact cause of Crohn’s remains unknown, so treatment regimens usually aim to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and prevent weight loss.


How Can Cannabis Help?
The effectiveness of cannabis and its derivatives for treating gastrointestinal disorders has been known for centuries. Research shows cannabis to be an effective treatment for Crohn’s, not only because it helps to alleviate symptoms caused by the disease and pharmaceutical therapies, but because its use can sometimes lead to complete remission. Cannabis provides significant medical efficacy in the treatment of Crohn’s disease because it is made up of hundreds of organic chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, which are able to bind to the same receptors in the brain as the body’s own gastrointestinal tract regulating endocannabinoids. The best-known psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), does more than produce the euphoric feeling of being “high.” It reduces inflammation and relieves pain, nausea and vomiting while also stimulating the appetite. Cannabidiol (CBD), the most common non-psychoactive cannabinoid, also relieves inflammation while producing clear-heading, calming effects. CBD is also an effective antibacterial, which is important for patients suffering from infected fissures. The precursors to THC and CBD, tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic-acid (CBDA), are also important in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Like THC, THCA relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and helps to stimulate the appetite. CBDA also alleviates inflammation and fights infections. While individual cannabinoids alleviate specific symptoms of Crohn’s, all of them working symbiotically with terpenes in a process called the entourage effect, can result in a patient’s complete remission. Medical cannabis is able to fill in the missing pieces of the homeostasis puzzle when the body fails to regulate its own endocannabinoid production.


What Does The Research Say?
In 2013, cannabis was shown to have a significant impact on test subjects suffering from Crohn’s disease when compared to a placebo. The study showed that “a short course (8 weeks) of THC-rich cannabis produced significant clinical, steroid-free benefits to 10 of the 11 patients with active Crohn’s disease, compared with placebo, without side effects.” The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) Patient Education Committee stated in 2012 that “[e]xperimental evidence suggests that endocannabanoids, molecules found in the body that closely resemble compounds found in the cannabis plant may play a role in limiting intestinal inflammation. IBD [the category of gastrointestinal conditions of which Crohn’s disease is a part] patients have been found to have higher levels of cannabinoid receptors in their colonic tissue.” Dr. Adi Lahat at the Institute of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Israel has stated “[i]n the present preliminary prospective study, we have found that treatment with inhaled cannabis improves quality of life in patients with long-standing Crohn’s disease…Moreover, the data demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in almost all aspects of patients’ daily life.”


A Brief Description
Thought to be a mental disorder in the early 1800s, fibromyalgia is a chronic condition categorized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and extreme sensitivity to pressure. Although the root cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown, it is known that interruptions in sensory pathways of the brain, spinal cord and nerves cause patients to suffer from abnormal, intensified pain sensations. The first scientific research studying fibromyalgia was conducted in 1981, but the first medication designed to manage the debilitating symptoms was not approved by the FDA until 2007. While usually less than 40 percent of those suffering from fibromyalgia experience symptom relief from pharmaceutical medications, medical cannabis is often a successful therapy option to an otherwise resistant condition.


How Can Cannabis Help?
Fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain, fatigue, sleep deprivation, and mood instability or depression, can be effectively treated with the use of medical cannabis because the organic chemical compounds that make up the plant, called cannabinoids, mimic the body’s own naturally produced endocannabinoids. The cannabinoids in cannabis bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors that are responsible for regulating many body systems including pain, appetite, mood and memory. Although the increase in the number of states legalizing the use of medical cannabis may seem new to some, it is actually history repeating itself. Medical cannabis tinctures were available for over the counter purchase in drugstores throughout the United States until the 1930s. Phillip Leveque, the Oregon-based doctor known for being a pioneer of medical marijuana activism, was alive when cannabis tinctures could be found on store shelves, and he was also one of the first doctors to recommend medical cannabis once it was legalized in 1998. Leveque reported that he was in care of approximately 100 patients suffering from fibromyalgia, at any given time, and they all found medical cannabis to be a very effective treatment. Many patient testimonies align with what experts and researchers have revealed about the symptom relief that results from the use of medical cannabis. Multiple cannabinoids are known for alleviating symptoms of fibromyalgia. For example, THC can significantly reduce or even eliminate pain and nausea while helping to improve mood, and CBN is a powerful sleep aid. While single cannabinoid therapy, like the use of just THC or just CBN, will be effective, the efficacy of medical cannabis increases dramatically when multiple cannabinoids are able to work together in a process known as the entourage effect. An example of this is revealed in the results of a recent online survey of fibromyalgia patients, conducted by The National Pain Foundation. Sixty-two percent of participants found medical cannabis to be “very effective” in the treatment of multiple symptoms.


What Does The Research Say?
A study conducted in Spain and published in 2011 revealed that medical cannabis can provide fibromyalgia sufferers with both symptom relief and better quality of life. After using medical cannabis, participants reported a significant reduction in pain and stiffness as well as enhancement of relaxation, and an increase in sleeping abilities. Patients also noted feeling an improved sense of well-being after the introducing the use of medical cannabis therapies. While clinical studies focusing exclusively on fibromyalgia may be limited, clinical trials focusing on pain in general are rapidly growing in number around the world. In a double-blind study conducted at the University of California at Davis Analgesic Research Center and published in the Journal of Pain, Dr. Barth Wilsey is quotedstating, “[w]e conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the analgesic efficacy of vaporized cannabis in subjects, the majority of whom were experiencing neuropathic pain despite traditional treatment.” Thirty-nine patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain participated in the study and “[m]ixed effects regression models demonstrated an analgesic response to vaporized cannabis.”


A Brief Description
Glaucoma is the word used to describe multiple progressive eye conditions characterized by damage to the optic nerve. The two most common forms of glaucoma are characterized by an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) or pressure inside the eye which damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is vital in order to send visual information to the brain, and that route is interrupted when it is damaged. As a result of glaucoma, the patient loses their field of vision slowly, over time, and is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Many other symptoms, including headaches, eye pain, nausea, and blurred vision, are also suffered as a result of glaucoma. Only about half of the people suffering from glaucoma even know that they have it – for this reason, the disease is often called the “silent thief of sight”. The Glaucoma Research Foundation estimates that there are 60 million people suffering from glaucoma in the world – 2.7 million in the U.S. alone.


How Can Cannabis Help?
Although cannabis studies have shown that THC can relieve intraocular pressure, thereby reducing damage to the optic nerve, it may also reduce blood flow to the optic nerve which can have negative effects. THC can be used to relieve symptoms like eye pain, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Like THC, CBG alleviates intraocular pressure by increasing fluid drainage. CBN also slows progression and relieves pain. Cannabis can be used to treat symptoms as well as to delay onset, but it does not cure glaucoma.


What Does The Research Say?
As stated in the article entitled “Cannabinoids and glaucoma” published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, cannabinoids have been shown to effectively lower the IOP and have neuroprotective actions. Several cannabinoids have been shown to effectively reduce intraocular pressure and do not contain psychotropic effects that may potentially prevent patients from utilizing the treatment and prevent doctors from recommending the use of cannabis.


A Brief Description
First clinically observed in 1981, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a group of diseases resulting from disruption to the immune system. AIDS is described as the advanced stage and only develops as a result of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Categorized as a wasting syndrome, symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, severe neuropathy and fatigue. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 million people in the U.S. are infected with the disease. Since its discovery in 1981, AIDS has taken the lives of more than 36 million people around the world. Currently, it is estimated that 35 million people around the world have HIV. For this reason, the disease is considered a pandemic. The most common treatment regimens prescribed to AIDS patients are made up of powerful pharmaceuticals that come with many debilitating side effects of their own, including extreme nausea, cachexia, and depression. In 2007, the journal AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV reported that up to 60 percent of AIDS patients use medical cannabis without a physician’s recommendation because of how beneficial it is in the treatment of symptoms.


How Can Cannabis Help?
Medical cannabis allows those suffering from HIV and AIDS to consume calories, improving their overall quality of life because it effectively stimulates the appetite. The use of even small doses of medical cannabis has also shown to relieve nausea and pain that accompanies the disease itself and is exacerbated by the strong pharmaceuticals prescribed to treat it. With these findings regarding symptom relief, it is no surprise that so many people who suffer from HIV and AIDS supplement with medical cannabis therapies. While clinical cannabis research may still be lacking, there is no shortage of studies supporting cannabis’ efficacy in eliminating nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss. Cachexia, also known as “wasting syndrome” related to significant unintentional weight loss, is a common condition that is associated with HIV/AIDS patients. Furthermore, recent studies are showing that cannabis may hold promise as an inhibitor of HIV/AIDS progression – slowing the replication of HIV. In addition to the physical relief that cannabis can offer HIV/AIDS patients, the therapeutic impact on the mental wellbeing of patients dealing with all of the emotional stress associated with a condition such as this cannot be overlooked. The possible euphoria and joy produced by certain cannabinoids can also play a significant role in the general health of any patient – enjoyment can provide tremendous healing benefits for patients suffering from conditions that can cause depression.


What Does The Research Say?
A 1999 report commissioned by the White House and Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academy of Sciences) found that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety can all be treated with cannabis. The study concluded, “[f]or patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.” In 2013, a study conducted at Temple University School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine revealed that a synthetic form of THC, the most prevalent psychoactive cannabinoid found in medical cannabis, was able to essentially rewire cells harboring HIV. Another study published in the AIDS Researcher and Human Retroviruses in 2014 concluded that HIV and AIDS patients who regularly consumed THC showed significant improvement in health. One clinical study, conducted by Dr. Patricia Molina over the course of 17 months, revealed that THC can actually strengthen the immune system of monkeys that have been infected with the primate equivalent of AIDS. According to a study conducted at San Francisco General Hospital by the University of California’s Pain Clinical Research Center in 2007, medical cannabis can reduce HIV-associated neuropathy by up to 34 percent. In the study, patients who consumed medical cannabis at least three times per day experienced the most significant symptom relief.


A Brief Description
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or spastic colon, ranks as the most common gastrointestinal disorder, affecting 35 million Americans. As a chronic disorder affecting the colon, IBS is diagnosed based on the symptoms experienced by the patient. IBS is classified as a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning that it is apparently of spontaneous origin because the biological mechanism which leads to the diseased state is unknown. First documented in the Rocky Mountain Medical Journal in 1950, research recognizes that painful cramping, nausea, chronic diarrhea or constipation. IBS commonly leads to stomach pain, gassiness, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or both.


How Can Cannabis Help?
Although the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, it is known that, like many physiological processes, the gastrointestinal tract is controlled by the body’s endocannabinoid system. Experts report that the colon muscle of an IBS sufferer is overly sensitive, causing it to spasm after even the mildest stimulation because of a disruption in the communication pathway between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. Cannabis provides significant medical efficacy in the treatment of IBS because it is made up of hundreds of organic chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, which are able to bind to the same receptors in the brain as the body’s own gastrointestinal tract regulating endocannabinoids. Medical cannabis is able to fill in the missing pieces of the homeostasis puzzle when the body fails to regulate its own endocannabinoid production. The most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid known for producing the feeling of being high, THC, is also known for being an effective reliever of pain and nausea, which are two of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. CBD, the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid works is a powerful anti-spasmodic that also produces calming effects in patients. Experts report that, in the treatment of IBS and many other conditions, the medical efficacy of each individual cannabinoid found in medical cannabis increases dramatically when they work together in a process known as the entourage effect. For example, CBC works synergistically with THC to increase the amount of the gastrointestinal regulating endocannabinoid, anandamide, that is in the body at any given time. More anandamide in the system equates to reduced pain because it prevents excessive spasms in the gut wall.


What Does The Research Say?
The effectiveness of cannabis and its derivatives for treating IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders has been known for centuries. Many of those suffering from IBS report that symptoms of the condition, like abdominal pain, nausea, cramping and irregularity of bowel movements are more manageable or even alleviated with the use of medical cannabis. The experiences reported by IBS patients shows that medical cannabis is ideal for broad-spectrum relief, and is often an effective treatment even when the condition has been non-responsive to more commonly prescribed treatment options. Medical research demonstrates that this interaction between medical cannabis and the colon can result in improved motility, calmed spasms, and pain relief. Recent research has shown that endogenous cannabinoids play crucial neuromodulatory roles in controlling the operation of the gastrointestinal system, and can control gastrointestinal motility and inflammation. A study conducted in Italy in 2003 found that THC, the most common cannabinoid known for its strong psychoactive properties, reduced intestinal motility, thereby alleviating colonic spasms and abdominal pain.


A Brief Description
Marijuana is the best treatment for migraines, writes the father of internal medicine and founder of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Sir William Osler, in “the Principles and Practice of Medicine” first published in 1892. He writes, “Cannabis indica is probably the most satisfactory remedy [for migraines].” Not to be confused with a common headache, migraines are a neurological disorder characterized by a collection of symptoms that cause one of the most debilitating conditions suffered by humans. Less oxygen reaches the brain as a result of the restricted blood flow and higher levels of serotonin are produced. Platelets, the blood cells that aid in clotting, become stuck in the blood pathways as vessels outside the brain are contracted. There are two types of migraines: Classic and Common. Migraines can occur in various combinations and include:

  • moderate to severe pain
  • sensitivity to light
  • noise or odors
  • blurred vision
  • nausea or vomiting,
  • stomach upset, abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines (aura)


How Can Cannabis Help?
In the 21st century, migraines are most commonly treated by pharmaceuticals, but doctors have been using medical cannabis to treat them for thousands of years. While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, researchers have discovered from which areas of the brain this pain arises, which molecular changes signal the onset, and how cannabinoids affect these changes. The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite and pain — the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids. Medical cannabis provides effective relief from migraines because it is made up of cannabinoids that are designed to bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors in the human brain responsible for pain, memory and appetite. Because the medical cannabinoids react, sometimes seamlessly, with the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, they are able to relieve symptoms caused by a variety of different ailments, including migraines. One superiority of cannabis over traditional medication for migraines relates to the method of ingestion – smoking or vaporizing cannabis can provide the migraine sufferer with nearly immediate relief from their symptoms. Traditional medicine that is ingested and absorbed through the digestion process will take a longer time to provide relief. In addition, traditional medicine that is ingested can be very difficult for someone to use that is suffering from nausea or vomiting.


What Does The Research Say?
Medical experts J.R. Reynolds, J.B. Mattison, William Osler and Edward Constant Seguin all understood the medical benefits experienced from using cannabis to treat migraine headaches — each documenting his experience using medical cannabis to successfully treat migraine headaches. Now, this anecdotal evidence is supported by medical cannabis research. Leading medical cannabis researchers in Italy published a study in 2007 suggesting that migraines occur as a result of an underproduction of endocannabinoids in the human brain and body. This research found that those who suffer from migraines also possess significantly lower levels of the endocannabinoid, anandamide, which binds to the same transmitters that react to THC. THC has also been found to lower blood pressure, which can help to alleviate the blood floor restriction problems that lead to the onset of a migraine headache, and CBD produces a calming effect in patients suffering from the type of severe pain experienced during a migraine. In 2013, researchers in California revealed that triptans, the most commonly prescribed class of pharmaceuticals in the treatment of migraines, mimic the effects of THC in areas of the brain responsible for pain regulation. Many of those who suffer from migraine headaches report that smoking or vaping medical cannabis is more effective at treating the condition than their prescribed triptans.

Multiple Sclerosis

A Brief Description
An estimated 350,000 people in the United States are living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory nerve disease affecting the central nervous system. The immune system of an MS patient attacks and deteriorates the protective sheath covering the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. When the nerves are no longer protected, the cells become inflamed and damaged. Nerve signals and communications are slowed, as a result, and this can even eliminate the nerves’ ability to communicate completely. A couple of unique data trends exist for MS. Women are statistically more likely to develop MS than men. And veterans appear to be significantly more likely to develop MS than the general population. Researchers note that the increasing incidence of MS among military personnel have manifested over the past two to three generations, speculating that “there may be unique environmental exposures within the military” that increase the risk of MS. MS is the most common debilitating neurological disease of young people, typically appearing between the ages of 20 and 40. Depending upon the severity of damage and which nerves are affected, symptoms of multiple sclerosis may vary. Common symptoms of MS include:

  • severe pain and tingling in
  • different parts of the body
  • tremors
  • fatigue
  • bladder incontinence
  • can lead to depression


How Can Cannabis Help?
The human body contains systems that are filled with neuromodulators (receptors) and these sophisticated receptors help regulate a variety of physiological processes including movement, mood, memory, appetite and pain. In much the same manner that the human body’s endocrine system receptors respond to opiates – the root compounds of many pain relieving medications like morphine, codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin) – the body’s endocannabinoid system receptors respond to the compounds present in cannabis called cannabinoids. Research shows cannabis to be an effective therapy for MS patients because it not only treats many of the symptoms, but studies show that multiple cannabinoids slow the neurodegenerative processes that lead to disability. There is a reason that MS is on the list of qualifying, debilitating medical conditions in most of the US that have a medical marijuana program. Several of the cannabinoids found in cannabis have been shown to directly help with muscle spasms, tremors, fatigue and depression. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive cannabinoid known to produce the euphoric feeling of being “high.” It also demonstrates impressive medical efficacy in the treatment of MS. THC is a strong pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. It also relieves nausea, stimulates the appetite, and can help battle depression. Most impressively, it is one of cannabinoids which act as a neuroprotectant. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and provide clear-headed and stress-relieving calming effects. Most importantly, CBD reduces the severity and frequency of MS spasms, as does tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Cannabinol (CBN) is a strong sedative cannabinoid that acts as a sleep aid without the negative side effects associated with pharmaceutical counterparts.


What Does The Research Say?
While anecdotal research has always provided support for the use of cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of MS, recent controlled studies and advances in the understanding of the biology of cannabis and the bodies cannabinoid receptors have found that cannabis can help manage MS symptoms like pain, spasms, spasticity and incontinence. Numerous case studies, surveys and double-blind studies have reported improvement in patients treated with cannabinoids for the stated symptoms. A report issued by the House of Lords in 1998 reported, “We have seen enough evidence to convince us that a doctor might legitimately want to prescribe cannabis to relieve…the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and that the criminal law ought not to stand in the way.” The British Medical Association has approved and requested that the synthetic cannabinoids known as Nabilone and Dronabinol be licensed for use in the treatment of MS. The greatest support for the medicinal benefits of cannabis for MS can be seen by the fact that GW Pharmaceuticals has received authority to sell a cannabinoid medicine for the treatment of spasticity due to MS in 27 countries around the world including the UK, Spain, Italy, Canada and Germany (currently available in 15 countries and approved in an additional 12). GW Pharmaceuticals has completed all required clinical studies/trials in these countries, verifying the efficacy of cannabinoids to treat MS symptoms, in order to obtain such approvals. The company is currently participating in studies/trials to have Sativex approved for the treatment of pain associated with cancer.


A Brief Description
Neuropathy, arguably one of the most painful sensations experienced by humans, occurs as a result of damage, dysfunction or injury to nerves. The two commonly diagnosed types of neuropathy — peripheral and diabetic — produce similar symptoms, but whereas peripheral is usually caused by injury, the diabetic counterpart is brought on by damage from high blood sugar. As a result of neuropathy, nerves essentially become confused and send false pain signals to the brain that are often described by patients as a feeling of tingling and numbness, shooting and burning, or prickly pins and needles. Neuropathy patients, suffering from a condition that is often described as chronic, have limited treatment options with the most common being pharmaceutical painkillers. Although opiates have been the most common treatment option in recent decades for the more than 380 million people suffering from neuropathy worldwide, the use of medical cannabis as a successful reliever of chronic pain has been highlighted again in recent years. Cannabis has been used to treat many different medical conditions —including several different types of pain — for centuries, and recent research and anecdotal evidence has brought it back to the forefront of neuropathic pain treatments.


How Can Cannabis Help?
Cannabinoids, the organic chemical compounds possessing much of the healing powers of medical cannabis, bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body and brain that are responsible for the regulation of several physiological body systems, including pain, mood, memory, and appetite. While pharmaceuticals are also designed to react with the same receptors, they rarely bind as naturally as the cannabinoids in medical cannabis. This is why medical cannabis is such an effective treatment option for conditions that may otherwise be difficult to treat, like neuropathy. Where pharmaceutical therapies may not provide enough symptom relief to outweigh the negative side effects and potentials for addiction, cannabis can often react with the body’s receptors more efficiently and without risk of life-threatening addiction. Multiple research studies reveal that cannabis is often a preferred method of symptom relief for neuropathy patients because it is effective, even to those who have not responded to pharmaceutical therapies, and the psychoactive side effects are not as debilitating as those presented by opiates. Several medical cannabinoids are known to treat individual symptoms like pain, anxiety, inflammation, sleep deprivation, and mood disorders. While those single cannabinoid therapies are extremely successful, as highlighted by the pure CBD oils that are significantly reducing the severity and duration of many children suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, when multiple cannabinoids work together in a process called the entourage effect, the medical efficacy can increase dramatically. The success of the entourage effect is demonstrated in the use of medical cannabis to treat neuropathic pain. THC, the most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid, has proven to be an extremely effective analgesic (pain reliever) and is also helpful in the treatment of depression that can often accompany chronic pain conditions like neuropathy. Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive reliever of inflammation and pain. Research has linked the inflammation-reducing characteristics of CBD, and its ability to eliminate excessive immune-related oxidative stress in order to allow the body to better heal itself, to significant symptom reduction in neuropathy patients. Another medical cannabinoid, CBC, displays sedative properties that are known to help those suffering from pain get some much-coveted rest.


What Does The Research Say?
As with other conditions, there is a countless amount of anecdotal research that has proven the pain relieving efficacy of cannabis – going back to the beginning of documented cannabis use over 5,000 years ago, pain relief has been a consistent physiological effect seen from cannabis use. The experience of the leading medical experts has revealed that medical cannabis can.