Tag: CBD

Medical Marijuana Could End Childhood Seizures

The Newest Condition Cannabis May Treat

In the world of alternative medicine, a veritable wild west of pills and powders, marijuana is king. It’s toted as the cure for everything from headaches to cancer. While many of these claims are dubious at best, there’s mounting scientific research to back up marijuana’s medical benefits.

Newest among these is a New York University study which gauged the effects of canabidiol, better known as CBD, on various forms of childhood epilepsy. CBD is the second most prevalent chemical in marijuana, falling just short of THC. It’s also the chemical responsible for pot’s analgesic and sedative effects.

medical marijuana childhood epilepsy

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, the director of NYU’s Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, led the study and lauded the results as “extremely important.” He may be onto something, as his research examined CBD’s impact on two of the most extreme forms of epilepsy – Lennox Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.

Learn how medical marijuana may be an alternative to opioid painkillers!

The Shocking Results

Dr. Devinsky’s twelve-week study was comprised of more than 213 individuals suffering from various forms of epilepsy. In total, the effects of medical marijuana on twelve different types of epilepsy were studied.

Throughout the study, participants recorded positive and negative responses to CBD and medical marijuana in general. A total of 10% of those taking CBD reported “mild to moderate” side effects. These were things like drowsiness and fatigue.

Overall, 137 of the initial participants made it through the whole twelve-weeks. The data gathered from their experience has been nothing short of shocking. What exactly happened? How do CBD and marijuana impact childhood epilepsy?

Well, those with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome reported 55% fewer instances of seizure. Those with Dravet Syndrome reported 53% fewer instances of seizure. The remaining participants reported a 54% drop in epileptic seizures during the study. That’s an average drop of over 50%! That’s real hope for those struggling with all forms of epilepsy. It looks like marijuana may indeed help to end childhood seizures!

What about the side effects of marijuana though? What are the ramifications of giving children CBD? Remember, about 10% reported mild to moderate side effects.

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Is it Safe to Give Children Marijuana?

That, readers, is the question. Do the benefits of CBD and medical marijuana on childhood epilepsy outweigh the negative consequences? What about introducing a mind-altering chemical to still developing brains? Will there be long-term damage?

Well, various studies suggest that prolonged marijuana use can damage young brains. That’s certainly something to consider when discussing the use of CBD to treat childhood epilepsy. It’s worth noting that this study examined a measured dose of CBD over a three-month period. That’s a far cry from prolonged pot abuse. Still, it’s something to take into consideration.

What about the risk of children being given medical marijuana developing an affinity for drug use later in life? Again, that’s certainly something to consider, though I’d wager it’s a rare occurrence. Remember, CBD is different from THC.

Although both produce psychoactive effects, CBD produces much milder ones than THC. CBD primarily acts as an analgesic or painkiller (not to be confused with opioid painkillers) and a sedative (not to be confused with benzodiazepines).

So yes, using CBD to treat childhood seizures has some risks associated with it. We can’t ignore the drastic impact it’s had on epilepsy though. Anything that can reduce the occurrence of seizures by over 50% should be examined further and, perhaps, that’s just what the doctor ordered – further testing on CBD as an effective childhood epilepsy deterrent.

Can Medical Marijuana Save Lives?

Will Marijuana End the Painkiller Epidemic?

I recently stumbled across a great article that explored how medical marijuana can be used to treat patients with chronic pain. The article argued that, among other things, medical grade pot may be a safer alternative to prescription painkillers.

I’m not a doctor and don’t know whether that claim has any basis in fact. What I do know is the article painted a pretty accurate picture of the state of pain medicine in America. It also tugged on my heartstrings and sent me down a rabbit hole of information gathering.

medical marijuana painkiller
image via Wikimedia Commons

Enter Ian Young, a fortysomething man who’s had chronic pain for over a decade. Young was in a car accident in the mid-90’s and was left with pain in his neck and a nasty addiction to opioid pills.

At the height of his doctor-sanctioned addiction, Young was taking 240 milligrams of Vicodin and 225 milligrams of Percocet each day. Those are some pretty high doses. He was also on a slew of pills to counteract the side effects of his painkillers (think constipation, etc.).

Young estimates that he was taking as many as fifteen different medications each day. He said, “I was probably taking more prescriptions than my grandfather” (Aljazeera America).

After reaching his breaking point, or rock bottom if you prefer, Young began to wean himself off of narcotic painkillers. He was soon taking a significantly lower dose of painkillers, but was left with neck pain. His solution? Medical marijuana.

Young lives in Washington State which, in 2012, legalized pot for recreational use. Young began to buy recreational marijuana and use it for medical purposes (less red tape than going a strictly medical route, I assume). He’s now a member of the approximately two million American’s who uses some form of medical marijuana.

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Marijuana’s Painkilling Benefits

Marijuana has a number of medical benefits. While not all of these, or even most, relate to decreasing pain, there are some known positives about using marijuana as a painkiller.

In the early 2000’s, California budgeted $10 million for medical marijuana study. Barth Wilsey was one of the first to conduct research on whether pot had any painkilling effects. Wilsey, a pain specialist at the Davis Medical Center at the University of California, started looking into how pot may reduce neuropathic pain.

His findings concluded that yes, marijuana does have painkilling effects. Interestingly enough, the short-term analgesic properties displayed by marijuana can occur after consuming marijuana with a very low THC concentration.

Consider that recreational weed has anywhere from a 6 to 20% THC concentration. Painkilling marijuana can contain as little as 1.3% THC. This small amount of THC will produce no psychoactive effects. Imagine a medication that can relieve pain without any psychoactive effects. Sounds good to me!

Ian Young abundantly confirms this. His preferred strain of analgesic marijuana is something called “20:1.” This strain is named for its concentration of CBD (marijuana’s primary “sedative” chemical) to THC. Young has stated, “I don’t get high off of it, but I get extreme pain relief immediately, like an opioid” (Aljazeera America).

It’s worth noting that chronic pain is one of the main reasons that people opt for medical marijuana in the first place. In fact, in 2013 a survey was conducted at a Michigan medical marijuana dispensary. The results confirm that pot and painkilling go hand-in-hand.

Over 85% of the patients receiving medical marijuana use it to relieve chronic pain. Again, that’s a stark first-person testimonial to the analgesic effects of marijuana.

Another benefit of marijuana used for medical purposes is the general quality of life improvement it offers over opioids. According to Ken Mackie, a neuroscientist at Indiana University,

“Medical marijuana is probably better for treating chronic pain, where the goal is to increase a person’s quality of life, ability to communicate with family and friends and hold down a job” (Aljazeera America).

Learn how Obama wants to end the painkiller epidemic!

Medical Marijuana > Prescription Opioids

In addition to the general benefits that analgesic marijuana offers, there’s one specific fact that may make it preferable to opioids. Simply put, states with medical or recreational marijuana have fewer opioid overdose deaths.

That’s not a typo, I said fewer overdose deaths. In the midst of a painkiller epidemic, these states have figured out a way to reduce the mortality rate of prescription painkillers. Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont have a cumulative 24.8% lower annual overdose death rate than the rest of the country.

marijuana and opioids
image via Wikimedia Commons

What about patients that want to use both opioids and marijuana as painkillers? Well, here we get into some really interesting research. A study was conducted on individuals with chronic pain and prescriptions for sustained release morphine and oxycodone.

The study found that when a small amount of medical grade marijuana (remember, this isn’t potent pot but rather pot with a low THC percentage) was added to a sustained release morphine or oxycodone regiment, pain was decreased by 27% without increasing the concentration of opioids in patients’ blood.

This means that medical grade marijuana, when taken in small amounts (up to three hits of vaporized pot per day), can be used to reduce prescription painkiller doses while still maintaining analgesic levels.

Up to now we’ve been looking at potential medical and scientific benefits of marijuana’s painkilling abilities. But what about the very human benefits? What about individuals who are finally offered a choice? Individuals who are finally offered way out from doctor-approved opioid addiction?

Well, once again we return to Ian Young. When asked about how using marijuana for pain relief has affected him, Young said, “In the past six months, I’ve taken one oxycodone. The rest of the time I’ve been taking cannabis. Even today, I can’t believe I’ve gotten here” (Aljazeera America).

Remember, this is someone who was taking over 200 milligrams of two different painkillers each day. This is someone who was taking more than fifteen different medications at once. If medical marijuana can offer someone freedom from that level of doctor-sanctioned addiction, well, it may be worth considering.

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Marijuana Containing High THC Levels Linked to Psychosis

Strong Marijuana Causes Psychosis

Marijuana with large concentrations of the psychoactive chemical THC has been linked to a drastically increased chance of psychosis.

The link between potent cannabis and psychosis was made clear by researchers from King’s College in London. Marta Di Forti and Sir Robin Murray led the study, which examined how THC impacted an individual’s chance of developing drug-induced psychosis.

strong marijuana and psychosis
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Their findings were recently published in the English journal Lancet Psychiatry. The specific findings, detailed below, shed new light on the dangerous connection between certain strains of marijuana and psychiatric distress.

Before examining Di Forti and Sir Murray’s research, we need to define what exactly “potent marijuana” means. For the purposes of this study, it refers to any weed that has greater than a 15% concentration of THC.

Sir Murray has stated that, “the results of the study point at the fact that almost one-quarter of cases of psychosis could be prevented if nobody smoked high-potency marijuana” (Utah People’s Post).

Learn facts and statistics about how many people smoke weed

New Info on Pot & Psychosis

The researchers from King’s College studied and analyzed data from 780 south London residents. The participants were between the ages of 18 and 65 years old and both male and female. Of the 780 individuals studied, 410 had previously experienced an episode of psychosis.

So, what did their research yield? Well, it showed that:

  • 24% of new cases of psychosis result from using strong marijuana.

 

  • Those who causally smoked strong marijuana are three times more likely to experience a psychotic episode.

 

  • Those who smoke every day are five times more likely to experience a psychotic episode.

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  • The psychosis that strong marijuana produces is purely drug induced. It isn’t indicative of a lasting psychiatric disorder.

 

  • Using marijuana with lower than a 5% concentration of THC doesn’t lead to an increased risk of psychosis.

 

  • Using marijuana and hash with high concentrations of cannabidiol (also known as CBD) doesn’t lead to an increased risk of psychosis.

 

These findings led Di Forti to pronounce,

“When a [general practitioner] or psychiatrist asks if a patient uses cannabis, it’s not helpful; it’s like asking whether someone drinks. As with alcohol, the relevant questions are how often and what type of cannabis. This gives more information about whether the user is at risk of mental health problems; awareness needs to increase for this to happen” (Utah People’s Post).

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