For centuries, civilizations from different corners of the world have used marijuana. It is believed that the herb has been used from as early as the third millennium BC, with more research confirming an even earlier usage. Cannabis cultivation is believed to have originated from Asia before circulating to the rest of the world.
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Crucial Components of Marijuana Plant
People have always found different parts of the plant to be useful, and have leveraged its medicinal and psychoactive properties. Cannabis has also been used to provide fiber for creating a wide variety of products such as:
- Upholstery, and
On the other hand, the psychoactive components have made chronic weed beneficial for recreational and religious purposes.
Hemp, another crucial component of the marijuana plant, has in the past been useful in manufacturing jewelry and construction material. All these show how long humans have been creative with cannabis and its impact on day-to-day activities.
Despite its incredible benefits, marijuana consumption has always been discouraged, with some terming it as a necessary evil. In the first years of the 19th century, many Western countries began restricting their consumption. Those who were against its use had diverse opinions that were generally associating the plant with class and racial stresses.
The mid-20th century saw revolutionary international coordination that brought about restrictions on the use of marijuana. During this period, almost every country in the world banned the plant, terming it as illegal.
The restrictions, however, have never hampered exhaustive research on this magical herb. Scientists across the globe have studied marijuana for ages, and have provided eye-opening findings on its medicinal potential. With more information available, people have begun changing their approaches to weed. Also, many nations have established legislation to decriminalize it.
The Netherlands set the pace as the first country to decriminalize cannabis consumption, and many countries have followed suit. You are legally safe if you practice the medicinal use of marijuana in nearly every U.S state.
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The current approach is fast clearing the previous misconceptions about cannabis, and the fact that its consumption has been treated as a taboo. Nowadays, there is less misinformation, and most people have realized its unbelievable properties. Legalization has opened ways to more in-depth research on the medicinal properties of the good plant.
Thanks to this, many patients from different parts of the world continue to leverage the incredible healing properties associated with marijuana. Apart from the incredible psychoactive ingredients, researchers have also found that a wide selection of disorders positively responds to medical marijuana.
So, how much research has been conducted?
This piece highlights the different ways medicinal weed continues to impact lives and the significant milestones achieved by scientists in medicinal cannabis.
Here are 5 Medical marijuana research points that have placed it on a higher pedestal when it comes to healthcare:
1. The Use of Cannabis to Treat Tourette Syndrome and Controlling Tics
Also referred to as TS, the complex neuropsychiatric disorder’s etiology is unknown, making it one mysterious illness. The syndrome presents itself in stereotyped, involuntary movements accompanied by vocalizations commonly referred to as tics. The severity at which the ailment affects patients varies widely.
Tourette syndrome has no cure, but you continue to improve as you age.
Recent statistics indicate that about 3.0 percent (one in every 360) of kids between the ages of 6 and 17 in the United States have been diagnosed with TS. This represents a total of approximately 138,000 children.
Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome
Tourette Syndrome is usually complex in nature, but you can identify it through several involuntary indications. These include:
- Abnormal blinking
- Rolling of the eyes
- Shrugging of shoulders
You may also end up jerking your head regularly or touching the nearby people or objects without intending. Note that the symptoms aren’t consistent. While a patient may display severe symptoms that require urgent attention, some patients may display minimal signs and may not even realize that they have a disorder.
How Previous Research On Cannabis Has Benefited Tourette Syndrome Patients
Different studies have confirmed that TS patients who were subjected to medical marijuana responded positively, particularly those whose condition displays through tics. After consuming controlled amounts of cannabis, the spasms reduced considerably.
According to other studies, a patient with Tourette syndrome would gradually improve if given synthetic THC capsules. After regulated dosages, your condition will improve significantly, even if yours was a severe case.
These are not the only pieces of research to confirm the above facts. There are still more studies for you to review.
Another research carried out in 2002 also adds to the incredible revelations. The uncontrolled clinical trial was carried out by the Department of Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy from the Medical School of Hanover, Germany.
The clinical trials and case reports were carried out to ascertain the impact of cannabinoids on Tourette syndrome, and whether they could improve it. Investigators succeeded in treating the disorder with just a single 10-milligram dose of delta-9-THC, and the male patient aged 25 recovered.
According to the findings:
- The patient experienced a massive decline in the average tic severity score.
- The tic score dropped from 41 to 7. Note that this was just two hours after the cannabinoid therapy.
- The observation lasted for as long as seven hours.
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These researchers went along to confirm the preliminary results in another single-dose THC trial. The randomized dose was also double-blind, with placebo as the control experiment, and the findings were equally promising. After the delta-9-THC treatment, the patients displayed a significant reduction of tics and improved OCB (obsessive-compulsive behavior). But it does not just end here.
Another almost similar case study was conducted in 2016. According to the findings, administering cannabinoid extracts two times every day to a patient suffering from treatment-resistant TS showed excellent results. This dosage led to a massive:
- 80% cut in motor tics
- 90% decrease in spasms.
Notably, they did not report any cognitive impairment cases on any of the patients after receiving the treatment. This led to the conclusion that THC is both safe and effective in reversing TS tics.
Latest Marijuana Studies and What the Future Holds for Medical Marijuana Usage
The past research on marijuana’s effectiveness on Tourette syndrome set precedence on studies on the topic. Currently, more studies are being conducted to ascertain whether consuming the medication while still young could present any harm over benefits.
Among the latest tests on the impact of cannabis treatment on young Tourette syndrome patients is a 2017 study by researchers from the University of Toronto.
The latest marijuana research was conducted to assess how safe or efficient inhaled cannabis is to 19 TS patients, and the revelations were excellent.
- A significant relief of symptoms on all the participants
- They all experienced diminished anxiety, impulsiveness, and rage outbursts.
- A massive 18 participants reported improved tic severity, alongside lower obsessive-compulsive disorders and irritability.
Generally, each participant displayed a substantial reduction of their respective symptom, achieving the improvement in the lowest time ever. These findings are striking, considering almost everyone in this group had tried any of the traditional treatments for TS symptoms. From the reports, it is clear that marijuana is still among the most viable treatment alternative for tics and any other associated sign.
2. Use of Medical Marijuana for Pain and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Almost every arthritic condition leads to severe pain, and most patients rely on traditional medical treatments to handle the condition. However, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a more resistant variation that does not respond to conventional pain relievers. That is why patients end up seeking alternative options to address the unbearable pain.
RA is an inflammatory illness that affects the joints. It is characterized by:
Severe RA could make a patient lose their limb functionality. Sometimes, the effects extend beyond the joints. Some patients usually have damaged body parts in areas such as the skin, heart, eyes, lungs, and blood vessels.
According to recent statistics in the United States of America, about 41 patients in every 100,000 end up with a RA diagnosis every year. There are approximately 1.3 million people in the country who suffer from this disease. On average, the likelihood of women getting this diagnosis is two to three times higher than that of men.
Symptoms Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis
The symptoms associated with this condition include:
- Fatigue, fever, and appetite loss
- The joints are sometimes stiff in the mornings or after you’ve been inactive for sometime
- Warm, swollen joints with abnormal tenderness
The early stages of RA usually begin by affecting the smaller joints. This includes the finger joints as well as those of your toes. As it progresses, the above symptoms would start appearing on the knees, elbows, shoulders, or hips. Most of the time, the symptoms occur in the joints on opposite sides of the body. For instance, your right and left elbows. The severity of the condition varies, and the signs may be temporary.
The Progress of Previous Cannabis Research On Rheumatoid Arthritis
People have relied on cannabis for its:
- anti-inflammatory, and
- anti-rheumatic properties for ages.
Furthermore, the RA condition is known to be under the modulation of the endocannabinoid system, hence giving cannabis has the potential to leave a positive impact on the symptoms. As a result, many patients have reported positive results when they use various cannabis strains in the treatment of RA conditions.
In 2005, for instance, Australian patients who relied on medical marijuana effectiveness for Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment filled an anonymous questionnaire survey. Approximately 25 of the participants of the study acknowledged that they use cannabinoids to manage the condition.
Numerous other similar surveys were carried out, and they all pointed towards the same conclusion: marijuana can help RA patients manage the symptoms. However, there is still limited verified medical information on the management of the condition with the aid of cannabinoids.
The need for more verified facts on how Rheumatoid Arthritis patients could benefit from cannabis has led to more evident research. One such study was conducted in 2006 by researchers from the British Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.
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The investigators reported treating arthritis successfully by only relying on cannabinoids due to its nerve pain relief properties. This was the first of its kind controlled trial held to assess the effectiveness of cannabis extracts to treat RA.
According to the findings, administering medical cannabis to an arthritis patient for more than five weeks would result in less pain while moving or resting, reduced inflammation, and improved sleep quality. The pain intensity is relatively minimal than the placebo. The key takeaway from the study was that the patients never displayed any adverse effects.
The year 2016 saw Canadian researchers carry out another randomized, placebo-controlled test. These investigators wanted to determine how osteoarthritis patients would benefit from consuming vaporized cannabis. They achieved the same results in other smaller trials to investigate the impact on patients who ingested cannabis extracts orally. In both cases, there was a significant improvement in Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms.
Current Research On the Treatment of RA with Medical Marijuana
All the previous clinical trials have offered evident findings on the positive impact of cannabis on the Rheumatoid arthritis-associated symptoms. However, there’s still a need for confirmatory studies to confirm this.
Will researchers provide more information on the impact of cannabinoids on Rheumatoid Arthritis? Is there hope for patients in cannabis?
Another 2016 trial provides the right answers to this question, thanks to the excellent findings. The researchers noted that if CBD was administered to patients promptly during the initial stages, it could:
- Protect the joints from severe damage.
- It hampered further progress of the condition.
Later studies have also found that administering agonist HU-320, a synthetic cannabinoid could protect a patient’s joint from extensive damage. Another cannabinoid agonist HU-444 also gives the same results on RA.
Another study on the same topic was conducted at the National Institute of Neuroscience, Tokyo. The findings conclude that Rheumatoid Arthritis patients who consume cannabis had positive results.
- Experience relief on symptoms like swelling and pain in the joints.
- Suppression of ailment progression and joint destruction.
Rheumatology experts recently conducted other similar studies. According to the latest reports, CB2 receptors may offer relief to RA patients if individually activated. Furthermore, selective CB2 agonists could be the most effective treatment for the condition.
3. Medical Marijuana for Alzheimer’s Disease
For long, traditional medicines and treatments have proved futile in managing this neurological disorder. This has brought about the need for research on the effect of cannabis in improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Its origin is still not known, but it affects a significant number of Americans. Alzheimer’s disease’s common characteristics include:
- Severe forgetfulness
- Loss of learned attributes
A patient suffering from this disorder can display symptoms such as depression, loss of appetite, and agitation. Unfortunately, there are no confirmed drugs or treatment programs to cure the disease or manage its progression.
Recent statistics indicate that more than 5 million people in the United States are living with this condition. This translates to about 10th of Americans aged more than 65 years. Other statistics indicate that the prevalence of the disorder is expected to increase by at least 14 percent between 2017-2025.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
The disorder is usually associated with confusion and memory loss. However, there are more symptoms that patients experience. They include:
- Cognitive symptoms – The signs could be a mental decline, challenges when creating new memories, delusions, confusion (especially in the evenings), concentration hurdles, disorientation, and difficulty in identifying everyday objects.
- Behavioral – The patient could be aggressive, agitated, or have problems taking care of themselves. They may also repeat their own words meaninglessly, and lack restrains or be restless while appearing to be lost.
- Mood – A patient who has Alzheimer’s disease experiences mood swings. They may also get angry quickly and experience moods such as loneliness, and general discontent.
- Psychological – Here, the symptoms include paranoia, insomnia, depression, and occasional hallucinations.
Other common signs may include planning problems and difficulty in solving problems. The patients also find it hard to complete common tasks and find it hard to speak or write some words.
Previous Research On the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease with Medical Marijuana
With no available treatment for the disorder, various studies on the effect of weed on Alzheimer’s disease have been conducted and have offered incredible reports.
According to preclinical data:
- cannabinoids can significantly restrain the advancement of this condition.
- These useful compounds provide symptom relief to patients as well.
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But what’s the view of previous researchers on the use of medical marijuana to treat the disorder? Read on to find out what this next research has to say on this matter.
A research team composed of investigators from Spain’s Cajal Institute and Complutense University in Madrid conducted a study and found important findings. They first administered rats with amyloid-beta peptide (An Alzheimer’s disease-inducing protein), before presenting the specimens with synthetic cannabinoids.
When subjected to additional synthetic cannabinoids, patients could experience reduced inflammation caused by the disorder, as evident in the tried human brain cells in tissue culture.
According to the results:
- The treatment significantly reduced neurotoxicity levels and hindered cognitive impairment as well.
- The findings note that cannabinoids successfully inhibit the disorder’s fast neurodegenerative process.
Another 2010 study showed the incredible benefits of cannabinoids in reversing memory loss. The research involved administering cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid, in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. This successfully mitigated memory loss.
Investigators from the Salk Institute also conducted their study of the direct effect of cannabinoids on Alzheimer’s disease. The findings describe a mechanism in which THC molecules directly influence the pathology of the disease. Interestingly, the molecules were considerably effective, beating approved AD medications such as tacrine and donepezil.
From all these past research and their findings, it is clear that cannabis is an enhanced therapeutic alternative for Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does it treat the symptoms, but it also limits the ailment progression.
Current Research and Future Projections for Medical Marijuana
The consumption of marijuana to manage Alzheimer’s disease seems to have a promising future. Thanks to a range of studies, it is now clear that the use of cannabis should be recommended as it offers a multidimensional approach to handling the disorder.
Previous findings demonstrate that it could significantly hinder the death of neuronal cells. With these incredible neuroprotective attributes, investigators and experts acknowledge that this could have a key impact in managing AD.
Studies from Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Ireland, support the claim that cannabinoids are indeed great for Alzheimer’s Disease. The components of the marijuana plant offer a multi-faceted treatment option by offering neuroprotection while also plummeting neuroinflammation. Furthermore, they also support the intrinsic restoration mechanisms of the brain.
According to findings from a range of clinical trials at Charite Universitatmedizidin, Berlin, cannabinoid therapy can successfully reverse several symptoms of the disease. The researchers noted that administering daily THC dosages could suppress symptoms like nocturnal motor activity and agitation that characterize AD.
Through a recent study, investigators studied how safe and effective it is for AD patients to consume THC-infused oil. Generally, every participant reported reversed agitation and irritability and fewer delusions. It also enhanced their sleeping patterns.
4. The Love Story Between Cannabis and Gastrointestinal Disorders
Recent statistics in the United States estimate that about 11 percent of citizens have been diagnosed with a chronic digestive disease. The numbers further note that those beyond the age of 65 have a higher prevalence rate at 35 percent.
Symptoms of GI Disorders
The initial sign of issues in the digestive tract are common symptoms that can be easily diagnosed. Patients show symptoms like constipation, bloating, abnormal cramping, belly pains, and diarrhea. These signs vary with the nature of the respective disease.
As the condition progresses, patients may experience abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, significant weight loss, and prolonged diarrhea.
What does previous research say on the impact of cannabis on gastrointestinal disorders?
A significant number of GI patients report that cannabis has therapeutically managed signs and such as belly pains, cramps, and diarrhea.
A 2011 examination published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology found that cannabis use is common among patients suffering from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disorder) and chronic belly pain.
More research projects have acknowledged that numerous patients have benefited from marijuana in the control of IBD symptoms.
According to findings from previous preclinical research:
- Activating the CB1 and CB2 could enhance the gut functions.
- It suppresses gastrointestinal motility
- Inhibits secretions in the intestines
- Manages acid reflux,
- Protects the alimentary canal from inflammation
- Promotes epithelial wound restoration
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Other studies have found marijuana to be an effective solution in the management of Crohn’s disease and any related diagnosis.
Investigators from the Meir Medical Center studied the disease progression, prescriptions, and the need for advanced treatment before and after Crohn’s patients consumed marijuana. It was found that all the 30 participants acknowledged relying on cannabis to regulate the disease activity. Twenty-one of these patients reported significant improvement.
Current Research and Whether Medical Cannabis Can Be Used to Treat GI Disorders
Several recent studies hint on the critical role of the cannabinoid system in managing inflammatory bowel disease. Therefore, cannabis components could potentially improve inflammatory ailments like colitis.
Researchers noted that the group of patients who used cannabis exhibited a far lesser need for other traditional medications. Some of these patients also noted that they needed fewer surgeries after consuming marijuana.
The researchers estimated that 79 percent of patients went through surgery nine years before hitting their first cannabis. On the contrary, only 10 percent of them showed the need for surgery after consuming cannabis for about three years. The findings show that cannabis is indeed a reliable treatment that inhibits disease activity.
Other researchers also carried out a randomized trial, and the findings support marijuana extract inhalation to Crohn’s patients who had reached the treatment-resistant level. About 50 percent of the participants experienced significant improvement in disease remission.
The evidence from previous and current studies have found marijuana to be a crucial, effective remedy for a variety of GI ailments.
5. How Cannabis Provides Sweet Relief from Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes mellitus refers to several autoimmune disorders that make the body secrete insulin abnormally. This, in turn, leads to abnormal glucose concentration in the blood, otherwise known as hyperglycemia. The disorders are classified into Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 is also referred to as juvenile diabetes, and it results from the inability to produce pancreatic from insulin. Consequently, the patient is fully dependent on insulin medication. Type 2 is usually less severe and results from inadequate insulin levels. Patients can fully manage the disease through diet.
If unchecked, both conditions could lead to:
- Kidney failure
- Hardened arteries
- Damage to nerves
According to 2018 estimates, 34.2 million people in the United States had diabetes, representing about 10.5 percent of the entire population. The ailment comes after cancer and heart disease as the number three cause of deaths in the country.
Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus
Common signs of this disease include:
- Too much thirst
- Urinating frequently
- Vision changes
- Baffling weight loss
Previous Research On the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus
Different observational and preclinical assessments confirm that cannabinoids are massively linked with diabetes.
In 2005, researchers studied the impact of marijuana consumption on disease progression and came up with exciting findings. The investigators reported that:
- Cannabis consumption tends to alter diabetes succession
- It offeres symptomatic relief to patients.
Another successful study was conducted a year later on how cannabis affects the incidence of the disease. Researchers noted that only 30% of rats treated with CBD developed diabetes, way lower than the 86% of untreated rats.
The results from the various studies, as well as the fact that cannabis is safe and tolerable in humans, have made experts conclude that the remedy has huge potential in mitigating diabetic complications.
Current Research On the Future Use of Medical Marijuana for Diabetes
A 2015 research in The Journal of Pain noted that consuming vaporized, whole-plant marijuana could significantly lower diabetic neuropathy in analgesic-resistant individuals. The placebo-controlled study demonstrated a significant cut on the disorder’s peripheral neuropathic pain in patients who inhaled cannabis.
Another similar research noted that:
- Consuming THCV could lower the plasma glucose percentage.
- The remedy also helped improve the pancreatic cell function of patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
More observational studies note that individuals who use marijuana have a relatively lower chance of acquiring Type 2 diabetes than those who’ve never used the herb.
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One such study was conducted at the University of California. The investigators examined the connection between cannabis use and diabetes mellitus in 10,896 U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 59.
According to the findings, those who’ve consumed marijuana in the present and past displayed a lower risk of the ailment. Notably, all the groups shared the same diabetes mellitus family history. Furthermore, there was no connection between marijuana consumption and deadly ailments like stroke, heart failure, or hypertension.
Medical marijuana continues to treat the different disorders, and all these advancements can be attributed to the immense effort of researchers. Thanks to these experts, physicians can now recommend medical marijuana to their patients with background knowledge of the evident benefits. Their hard work has promoted cannabis as a crucial component of the mainstream medical industry.
As traditional treatment continues to focus on controlling the different symptoms with conventional medication, cannabis physicians apply a holistic approach that also encompasses areas such as a healthy diet and mental health. The former uses treatments that leave behind a trail of side effects, while the latter offers more health benefits, as evident in the studies.
While these studies may have brought about enlightening findings, none of the treatments have been approved. As a result, there’s a need for ongoing research on the positive impact of cannabinoids on the mentioned disorders and numerous other ones.
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