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Top 4 Cannabis Health Studies of 2022

cannabis health studies 2022

According to NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), 4,300 new clinical health studies were published on marijuana in 2022. That represents a record-breaking amount of recent research into cannabis and human health.

Many of the legal restrictions that historically stopped cannabis research (or made it more difficult) have been lifted. On December 2, 2022, H.R.8454, the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, was approved by Congress. That means we can expect even more research studies in 2023.

Because of the federal prohibition of cannabis, we still do not know much about cannabis and human health. Many patients who are using doctor-supervised medical marijuana report that it can significantly help with a variety of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and more.

But learning more about the medicinal value of cannabis and how it impacts human health will help patients. Research could also lead to understanding medical cannabis use to create effective patient treatment plans.

Evidence-Based Cannabis Research and Federal Legalization

Before federal legalization of cannabis can happen or even be considered, there must be more evidence-based research findings examining the benefits and potential risks of long-term cannabis use.

There are many questions that researchers are searching to answer about medical marijuana. And the data will be used to decide if medical cannabis is safe to use in circumstances where other therapies may not be effective.

Some of the safety questions include:

  • The effect of long-term cannabis use on human health.
  • What kind of medical symptoms may be effectively treated with cannabis?
  • What is the addiction potential of marijuana?
  • Are there long-term adverse effects for pediatric patients using medical marijuana with a caregiver or guardian?
  • What prescription medications are contraindicated (conflict) with medical cannabis?
  • Which health conditions pose a risk (instead of a benefit) for medical marijuana use?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will review the data. The two regulatory bodies will provide recommendations to the federal government based on the research findings.

cannabis researchers


Top 4 Most Interesting Cannabis Health Studies of 2022

You may consider getting a medical card if you are a patient with a chronic health condition. And working with an experienced physician to add cannabis to your treatment plan.

Here are four of the most interesting cannabis health studies of 2022.

1. Cannabis Use for Insomnia, Depression, and Anxiety

Insomnia is not a qualifying health condition for medical cannabis. However, patients with other health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, may be eligible.

What is interesting is that insomnia is frequently associated with various mental health and physical disorders. For example, people with depression and anxiety often report problems with sleeping. That is because both mental health conditions, according to some clinical trials, can create feelings of agitation.

According to cannabis clinical outcomes research, medical cannabis can help with sleep disorders. Understanding how insomnia may be connected to depression and anxiety would be an important breakthrough for patients. Correcting sleep disorders could help reduce symptoms of fatigue and agitated or depressed moods.

The Michael G. DeGroote Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research Study

McMaster University in Canada is a leading research authority on medical cannabis. Nirushi Kuhathasan led the research team and published “An investigation of cannabis use for insomnia in depression and anxiety in a naturalistic sample” on April 28, 2022, in BMC Psychiatry. Nirushi Kuhathasan is also a researcher for the Mood Disorders Program and Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario.

The study analyzed data from a medicinal cannabis tracking app called Strainprint®. The app is available for consumers and helps them log specific strains of medical cannabis they use. It also asks the patient to log when they use medical cannabis and for what purpose. The information can then be shared with the patient’s physician for more accurate treatment planning.

Patients who consented to share their redacted (anonymous) data are also required to indicate the severity of their symptoms on a scale of 0 (least severe) to 10 (most severe). Patients using the Strainprint® app are also prompted to provide feedback on their symptoms after taking medical cannabis.

The data from the study stated that all participants reported improvement in sleep quality when cannabis was used for insomnia, regardless of age or other medical conditions. In total, patient data from 8,476 app sessions were analyzed.

Cannabis Effects on Depression

The study reported that cannabis was most effective for patients with depression who were under 45 years of age. Interestingly, medical cannabis seemed less effective for adults over forty-five.

Medical Marijuana and Anxiety

According to the patient data, Sativa dominant strains appeared most effective across all patient age groups. Approximately 95% of patients experienced significant relief from anxiety after taking a Sativa strain cannabis product. And the researchers also found that Sativa marijuana was more effective than cannabidiol (CBD) dominant strains.

Study Suggests Benefits for Insomnia

Regarding getting relief from insomnia, the data showed that all strains could potentially provide results for patients, regardless of their age or health conditions.

However, researchers think that patients with depression may respond better to cannabis with high CBD content. The cannabidiol may provide additional anxiolytic (anxiety fighting) benefits.

The study also suggested that insomnia in patients with anxiety may be triggered by different comorbidities (health factors) compared to patients with depression. Both conditions may contribute to insomnia, but cannabinoids may impact patients differently, depending on their mental health condition.

cannabis with chemotherapy docmj


2. Medical Marijuana for Patients Undergoing Cancer Treatments

Medical marijuana analysis for patients living with cancer has started to grow. That is because there are many debilitating symptoms that patients with cancer experience when they are going through treatment.

Chemotherapy treatment, for example, can cause nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss. Some people receiving cancer treatment can experience chronic fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

Medication conflict is one of the challenges of coping with symptoms of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Patients may not be able to take some prescription medications that can provide relief as they may be contraindicated. Cannabis may provide a new legal therapeutic alternative to help patients with cancer.

The Safety of Cannabis for Oncology Patient Treatments

One promising study was completed in December 2022, called “The Effectiveness and Safety of Medical Cannabis for Treating Cancer-Related Symptoms in Oncology Patients.” The study aimed to measure improvements in symptom management and the potential benefits of medical cannabis (MC) in cancer therapy.

The research study involved the collaboration of oncology and health experts from five major medical institutes in Israel, including the Faculty of Biology, Biology Department, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Cancer Center, HaEmek Medical Center, and the Department of Oncology, Galilee Medical Center. Over three hundred (300) patients were reviewed in the study.

Some of the most hopeful and encouraging findings of the research included:

  • Most patients with cancer saw significant improvement in their symptoms after six months of medical cannabis use. Some patients saw an 18% reduction in debilitating symptoms.
  • Many patients saw a 20% decrease in pain symptoms. And 40% of patients no longer used conventional prescription pain medications for their cancer and cancer treatment symptoms.
  • Cannabis research showed that 64% of patients in the study realized significant relief from anxiety symptoms.
  • Male patients reported reduced sexual dysfunction after six months of using medical cannabis.
  • Many patients reported significant improvement in mood and quality of life. Researchers suggest this improvement may help patients tolerate cancer treatment, particularly for more extended treatment plans.

While some studies report that cannabinoids may help reduce tumor growth in specific types of cancer, medical cannabis is not suggested as a cure or treatment for cancer. Rather, it may help patients cope with the symptoms better and improve resilience through cancer therapies.

3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Medical Cannabis

Cannabis research may provide new therapeutic options for patients with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a debilitating mental health condition. Patients with PTSD are confronted with various symptoms, including severe anxiety and depression, agoraphobia, nightmares, flashbacks, and other sleep disorders. Individuals with PTSD may also experience chronic pain associated with an injury that caused significant trauma.

In the United States, PTSD is a common qualifying health condition for state medical cannabis programs. American military veterans have a statistically higher rate of diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder due to combat trauma.

Treatment-Resistant Combat PTSD and Cannabis Study

In 2022, the first published study that examined the long-term effects of cannabis use was completed. The “Medical cannabis for treatment-resistant combat PTSD” research was published in Frontiers of Psychology.

Data from fourteen (14) adults were analyzed, and the patients were 32-68. All participants were American military veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD. The patients had treatment-resistant PTSD, meaning other therapies had not provided improvement or relief from symptoms.

The research suggested that individuals with combat-related PTSD showed substantial improvement with medical cannabis therapy in some symptoms.

  • Sleep quality improved significantly. However, there was no reduction in nightmares relative to the traumatic events for the patients.
  • Clinical cannabis research showed that there was an improvement in daytime symptoms of anxiety.
  • Most patients saw a 20% reduction in PTSD symptoms.

This study is a breakthrough because most patients saw no improvement in symptoms after an average of seven (7) years of conventional therapies. But 80% of the patients saw improvement after medical cannabis treatments.

cannabis for back pain


4. Medical Cannabis for Intractable Pain

Conducting clinical cannabis research into chronic pain is a high priority. Over 37% of Americans are estimated to suffer from debilitating symptoms of intractable pain. That is persistent pain symptoms that do not respond to other types of therapy.

Chronic pain impacts all aspects of life for patients, from their ability to work to mobility and independent living. Unresolved pain symptoms can also hurt relationships since they can cause mood disorders, fatigue, and other problems.

Prescription opioid medications have been proven ineffective for long-term pain management. That is because patients can develop a tolerance to opioids over time. That results in higher doses and potency opioid (and NSAID) medications. Some studies have also suggested that long-term higher potency opioid use

Read: “Medicinal Cannabis For Treatment Of Chronic Pain,” published by Sukhdeep Bains and Taif Mukhdomi2. The study was a collaboration between the Nassau University Medical Center and the Weill Cornell Medical Center.

One of the hopeful outcomes of more research into medical cannabis for chronic pain is that it may help curb the American opioid epidemic. Another study published in January 2023 by researchers from New York State and CUNY suggested patients could reduce opioid use with medical marijuana.

Patients taking medical cannabis for thirty days or longer showed less reliance on opioids and could taper their use with lower doses over time. Some states have already added opioid cessation as a qualifying health condition for doctor-supervised cannabis. The medical marijuana risk benefit for patients may be better than long-term opioid use.

Looking for More Information on Recent Cannabis Health Studies?

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) provides easy-to-read cannabis research summaries. You can search by topic and learn more about medical cannabis use, specific to certain health conditions and symptoms.

We encourage patients to research online to determine if medical cannabis can help with their wellness goals. And remember, our friendly physicians at DocMJ can answer any questions you have during your medical card health evaluation appointment.







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