Common Conditions Treated with Medical Marijuana (pt 2)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a complex psychiatric disorder that is caused by a violent, traumatic, or life-threatening event. An estimated 70% of American adults have been through one or more events that qualify as traumatic. About 20% of these people would eventually develop PTSD. Estimates show that about 24 million Americans struggle with PTSD at any point in time. Veterans and victims of sexual assault are well documented to struggle with PTSD for long periods of their lives. For most of these people, conventional treatment does not work. They still find it challenging to cope with re-experiencing, avoidance, and heightened arousal- the hallmarks of PTSD, even while religiously complying with their drugs. The resultant effect is that many PTSD victims indulge in ‘drugs’ to make the memories and the pain go away.
Previous studies have shown a direct link between PTSD scores of patients and cannabis use. While this trend was easily categorized under their ‘drug-seeking’ behavior, new knowledge suggests that this behavior may be linked to the fact that cannabis helps with PTSD. Although studies are ongoing to determine the exact medicine of action, available evidence suggest cannabis may help with PTSD in the following ways:
- Reducing anxiety: chronic anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of PTSD. Cannabidiol (CBD), the principal constituent of cannabis, is documented to help patients reduce stress, enhance their mood, and combat feelings of anxiety.
- Treat insomnia: cannabis can help facilitate sleeping in patients that find it difficult to initiate sleep or stay asleep. This effect is owed to Tetrahydrocannabinol, the constituent of cannabis that evokes euphoria in those that smoke cannabis. Studies have shown that THC can improve the quality of sleep and reduce sleep latency.
- Prevent nightmares: although more studies are still underway, cannabis is thought to help reduce nightmares in people who have PTSD. The mechanism is not fully understood, but cannabis users have long been known to have a shortened rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage of sleep where we experience our most vivid dreams.
Further research regarding how cannabis may be beneficial to patients who have PTSD is still ongoing. However, there is enough evidence to show that the symptoms of PTSD may be alleviated by cannabis therapy. Currently, PTSD is one of the approved conditions for which you can obtain a medical marijuana card in the State of Florida.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the neurons that control voluntary movement. An estimated 20,000 Americans have ALS at any given time, with 6,000 people being diagnosed with the disease every year. ALS is a relatively new disease. Thus there is a paucity of therapeutic options for those battling with the disease. The drugs approved for the disease attempt to decelerate the decline of function by reducing damage to nerves. Other drugs that help control symptoms such as drooling, muscle cramps, stiffness, etc. may also be given as adjuncts. However, the effectiveness of these drugs markedly decreases as the disease progresses. Overall the available drugs do little to improve the survival chances of anyone diagnosed with ALS.
Research has shown that the cannabinoid system may influence the pathophysiology of ALS. Cannabis is known to protect the nerves from oxidative damage, and this effect is thought to be beneficial for people struggling with ALS. Cannabis could also protect nerves from excitotoxicity, the second mechanism of nerve damage in ALS patients. CBD and THC inhibit the release of glutamate, a physiological response to nerve damage. When glutamate is released in excessive amounts, it could lead to tissue damage.
Florida patients can obtain a medical marijuana card from a licensed doctor if they wish to use cannabis for ALS. Pre-clinical evidence and reports from patients that are already on the drug showed a lot of promise.
Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that usually affects the small intestine, although some other parts of the Gastrointestinal Tract may be affected. People suffering from the disease typically experience bloody diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and persistent pain in the abdomen. It occurs as a result of gut inflammation, leading to difficulty passing out stool. About 1 million Americans have Crohn’s disease, and most of them are on antibiotic therapy, immune modifiers, steroids, or biologic therapies.
Studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system in people suffering from IBD may be slightly modified. Although cannabis may have no direct effect on gut inflammation, medical marijuana is known to produce clinical remission in patients. A recent study proved that more than half of the 46 IBD patients studied reported clinical remission of symptoms after eight weeks of cannabis therapy. About 65% of the patients that were given cannabis oil met all the criteria for full remission of symptoms, while only 35% of the patients that were given a placebo met the criteria.
Interestingly, significant improvements in inflammatory markers or endoscopic scores were absent in most of the patients. This development is even more intriguing when you consider the amount of documented evidence that supports the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis oil.
Although cannabis oil has not been shown to cure Crohn’s disease, it promises a better safety profile than conventional drugs. Furthermore, it has a lesser potential to cause serious side effects, unlike most other drugs used in treating IBD. Many people suffering from Crohn’s disease are already turning to cannabis even if the mechanism of action is not fully understood. You can get a medical marijuana license from a registered doctor if you suffer from Crohn’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that causes severe motor and non-motor symptoms. The common symptoms include postural instability, bradykinesia, tardive dyskinesia, speech difficulties, etc. The disease has a severe negative impact on the quality of lives of sufferers. Certain medications may help improve symptoms or stall the progression of the disease. However, these medications become less effective as the degeneration progresses. Some 1 million Americans currently live with Parkinson’s disease, and the medical world is still working to find a cure.
Research has shown that CBD and THC could help improve the quality of lives of patients struggling with Parkinson’s disease. CBD can help control motor and non-motor symptoms such as stiffness, insomnia, pain, dyskinesia, weight loss, dystonia, etc. The mechanism of action is not fully understood, but cannabis’ activity in Parkinson’s disease is in line with its well-documented neuroprotective properties. The antioxidant effect of cannabis compounds protects the neurons in the brain and central nervous system from oxidative damage.
The Florida Department of Health approves the use of cannabis for all the conditions listed above. However, you’ll need to obtain a medical marijuana card from a qualified CBD doctor in Florida before you can have access to the drug. At Kind Health Florida, we have expert marijuana doctors that can review your case and grant you a medical marijuana card. If you or anyone you know has any of the above conditions or any other condition that may benefit from medical marijuana therapy, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Our services are very affordable and available round the clock.
The first article of this series can be found at "Six Common Diseases Treated with Medical Marijuana."