Researchers are discovering there are many benefits to cannabis therapy as well as finding out more about how it interacts with the human endocannabinoid system to help achieve and maintain optimal body health. Medical cannabis benefits patients with a variety of conditions, both mental and physical. Many of us have heard stories about how it has helped relieve pain, muscle spasms, and even the symptoms of PTSD; when sharing these accounts, we are sometimes challenged to offer proof these benefits are scientifically valid. To find out if you pre-qualify to be a Florida medical marijuana patient, take our quick online eligibility survey. One of our Florida Medical Cannabis Doctors can help answer your questions about how to best utilize cannabis for your specific situation.
The changing attitude toward the use of medical cannabis around the globe and the increasing number of states here in the USA that have legalized it for medical and/or recreational use has provided researchers the opportunity to begin to study it in depth. While studies have been limited in the past, the results of these tests published in medical journals support the claims of many patients who have been able to use cannabis in the place of sometimes highly toxic prescriptions to treat everything from skin rashes to cancer.
Glycine is an amino acid found in the brain and spinal column. It has many functions including stimulating the immune response, affecting our perception of pain, and decreasing inflammation. The cannabinoids most important in this process are THC, CBD and DH-CBD, a derivative of CBD. Cannabinoids work on α3 glycine receptors in the nervous system to help lessen the severity of chronic pain caused by neuropathy. These effects can be achieved without causing tolerance, which is the body’s need to increase the amount of medication needed in order to maintain pain relief. In addition, the doses required to achieve these results are generally not large enough to result in a significant feeling of euphoria or being high. (1, 2)
Decreased Need for Opioid Pain Relievers
Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveal that states with medical cannabis laws have a significant decrease of over 2.1 million doses per state in opioid prescriptions for those on Medicare. Those states with dispensaries noted a decreased prescription rate of more than 3.7 million daily doses. Medicaid also shows a decrease of up to 6.8% in opioid prescriptions when patients have access to medical cannabis. Likewise, there was a lower rate of opioid overdoses, self-reported illegal use, addiction treatment, and prescription-related overdose deaths. Researchers also found that patients who use both medical cannabis and opioids require a lower opioid dose to achieve pain relief. (3)
Epilepsy or Seizure Disorder
Patients with uncontrolled epilepsy, specifically those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, were given CBD oil. Reported results were obtained with doses between 10mg and 20mg daily. Over a third of participants experienced a seizure activity reduction of at least 50% during the trial, with a 19.5%-19.9% reduction in the frequency of seizures as well. The side effects of prescription anti-seizure medications can be severe and include nausea & vomiting, lethargy, drooling, depression, loss of appetite, difficulty walking, tremors, behavioral changes, irritability, double vision, and aggression, while the main adverse effects of cannabis noted in this study were sleepiness, decreased appetite, and diarrhea. (4)
Nearly half of the adult population of the USA experiences sleep difficulty at some time. Researchers studied patients using whole-flower cannabis via pipe, vaporizer, or a joint. Using a pipe or vaporizer provided greater relief to the study subjects than smoking a joint. Hybrid and Indica strains of cannabis proved more effective at helping patients sleep than Sativa varietals. While CBD showed the most effectiveness as a sleep aid, adding THC did not significantly change the number or severity of negative effects such as dry mouth, forgetfulness, and fogginess. Prescription sleep aids often have more serious negative side effects such as confusion, agitation, and problems with concentration and memory; they can also influence other medications patients take. (5)
Multiple sclerosis is an incurable progressively degenerative disease involving the nerve fibers in the central nervous system. Its symptoms range from numbness in an extremity to paralysis. Using medical cannabis to help treat MS has shown to be beneficial in more ways than one. CBD functions as a neuroprotectant; it also helps with pain, inflammation and spasticity. One of the ways cannabinoids benefit MS patients is by increasing the number of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which decreases the inflammatory response and helps slow the progression of the disease. In addition to decreasing inflammation, researchers also discovered that CBD increased the number of anti-inflammatory substances called cytokines, which are secreted by the immune system. A similar study found that CBD inhibits the activity of destructive MOG-induced t-cells released as part of the progression of multiple sclerosis. (6,7)
The most common reason for medical cannabis use around the world is chronic pain. There are increasing indicators that the endocannabinoid system is tied in with nociception, or how our nervous system responds to painful stimuli. CB1 receptors are located in areas important to pain perception. Anandamide (an endocannabinoid naturally present in the body) and THC bind to CB1 receptors, blocking the reception of pain signals. Patients in this study reported several types of chronic pain such as back/neck pain, neuropathic pain, post-surgical pain, abdominal pain, cancer pain, trauma- or injury-related pain, and menstrual pain. Routes of administration were varied and included smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, concentrates, and topicals. Cannabis users noted a decrease in symptoms and increased quality of life. They felt as if they had more control over their lives and managing their pain instead of being controlled by the medication they were previously taking. Participants experienced less discomfort, a change in their perception of pain, an increase in pain tolerance, better sleep, fewer nightmares, increased functionality, relaxation, clarity of thought, the ability to decrease or eliminate opioid pain medications, and far fewer as well as less severe side effects when using medical cannabis as opposed to prescription medications. (8)
The endocannabinoid system in our bodies works with the chemicals and compounds found in cannabis to help us achieve maximum health and wellness. Scientists and researchers are discovering more benefits of the Cannabis sativa plant and its components every day. As medical cannabis becomes more acceptable as a form of treatment for various health conditions, studies are showing it can benefit a wide range of people with a variety of physical and mental illnesses. Talk to your Florida Medical Cannabis Doctor to find out how this amazing plant can help you live a better life.