Conditions Cannabis is prescribed for
In listing ten common conditions that doctors use cannabis to treat, it is important to appreciate that some conditions respond better to different types or different combinations of cannabinoids. For example, migraines, will respond to THC dominant medications. Joint inflammation conditions prefer CBD dominant strains while others still, like chronic pain, usually settle on a 1:1 CBD:THC combination. Not only are the type and ratio of cannabinoids used important, but so is the dose. For example, a low dose of THC (micro-dosing) can help with anxiety and some types of pain. A higher dose of THC can do the exact opposite and actually exacerbate anxiety and worsen pain. While cannabis is being used for treatment in dozens of conditions ranging from Acne to Tourette’s to Asthma (yes that asthma), here are some of the more common conditions where cannabinoid medicine plays a role.
For those with either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, their joints are just smoking, which is why many turn to smoking joints. However the ingested route of medical oils are more effective for longer periods of time compared to the relatively quick but short acting relief of an inhalation method such as a vaporizing (always preferred over smoking). Much safer than most medications used to treat arthritis, cannabis has no risk of causing stomach bleeds, constipation and even death that opiates or anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) could cause. In fact, NOBODY dies of cannabis.....ever. This is because, unlike opiates that claim numerous lives every day, there are no cannabinoid receptors in the brainstem, that vital part of the brain that controls our respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Cannabis acts to harness our own endocannabinoid system (ECS), which includes our naturally produced cannabinoids, anandamide and 2AG. These endocannabinoids are made throughout our body and are made in response to imbalances in multiple systems, usually involving hormones and neurotransmitters. When we make too much cortisol, the stress hormone, our ECS kicks in and we make anandamide that works to shut down cortisol production. When our own natural cannabinoids aren’t enough, then the addition of plant cannabinoids can be very helpful.
It has become headline news, of late, that CBD dominant cannabis can significantly reduce seizures in many children (and adults) in some of the more difficult type of seizure disorders. Noting the powerful effect cannabinoids have on children with terrible seizures, many key opinion leaders in the worlds of medicine and government have changed their minds about cannabis. Some families will even relocate to places where there is a more compassionate government that allows children to be treated for seizures with cannabis oil.
William Osler, the founder of modern medicine, stated that “cannabis is the single best treatment for migraines.” This is one of the few conditions where vaporized cannabis is more effective than ingested, as those who get struck by a migraine (often with nausea) don’t want to wait an hour before the ingested oils kick in.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Twitchiness involving nerves and spasm are areas where cannabinoids tend to excel in. This also defines the cause of IBS, a very common condition that may be fraught with constipation, diarrhea or both. The bowel has many cannabinoid receptors (CB2R) that, when activated by cannabis medicine, can reduce gut spasm and cramping.
Particularly nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. A recent survey of US oncologists indicated that 46% of them discussed using cannabis with their patients. Cannabis is as or more effective than most drugs used for this. In fact, it has allowed patients who were unable to tolerate taking chemo, to be able to do so.
Any pain involving nerves, ie diabetes, MS, peripheral neuropathy is an excellent target for cannabinoid therapy. The pain pathways are covered with cannabinoid receptors (CB1R and CB2R). When cannabis binds to these receptors, the flow of pain signals is mitigated, inhibited and controlled. More of a dimmer switch than a circuit breaker, our cannabinoid system responds by governing neurotransmitter flow, a good thing when it comes to pain signals.
Cancer related symptoms
A recent study indicated that patients with terminal cancer who took cannabis were much more likely to die at home than in hospice. While this may seem a pyrrhic victory, cannabis addresses some of the common symptoms for which cancer patients go to hospice, including pain, anorexia, fear, nausea and anxiety. Being sick is one thing, being sick with a smile is another.
Post Traumatic Stress is a debilitating condition that symptoms ranging from fear to insomnia and nightmares to anxiety and depression, that cannabis has been shown to address. The purpose of our ECS has been described as one meant to help us “eat, sleep, relax forget and protect.” Not being able to forget and reliving the emotions surrounding very traumatic events, has led to some significant pathology in many victims, including many returning soldiers. Cannabis has become an area of increasing interest and global research for the treatment of PTSD patients.
Those with fibromyalgia will recognize these symptoms and, for at least one licensed producer of medical cannabis, was the number one reason that cannabis was purchased by patients - Read More
Dr. David Hepburn