Marijuana’s official designation as a Schedule 1 drug something with no currently accepted medical use, means it’s pretty tough to study. Yet both a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal reports link cannabis with several health benefits, including pain relief and helping with certain forms of epilepsy. In addition, researchers say there are many other ways marijuana might affect health that they want to better understand as many Florida medical marijuana Doctors and many other Physicians as well can contest to. A massive report released in January helps sum up exactly what we know and, perhaps more importantly, what we don’t know about the science of cannabis. One of cannabis active ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, interacts with our brain’s reward system, the part that’s primed to respond to things that make us feel good, like eating and sex. When overexcited by drugs, the reward system creates feelings of euphoria. This is also why some studies have suggested that excessive marijuana use can be a problem in some people, the more often you trigger that euphoria, the less you may feel during other rewarding experiences. Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana, your heart rate can increase by between 20 and 50 beats a minute. This can last anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The new report found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the overall risk of a heart attack. The same report, however, also found some limited evidence that smoking could be a trigger for a heart attack. Pot also contains cannabidiol, or CBD — and this chemical, while not responsible for getting you high, is thought to be responsible for many of marijuana’s therapeutic effects such as pain relief or potentially treating certain kinds of childhood epilepsy. The new report also found conclusive or substantial evidence — the most definitive levels — that cannabis can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, which could have to do with both CBD and THC. Pain is also “by far the most common” reason people request medical marijuana, according to the report. One of the ways scientists think it may help with pain is by reducing inflammation, a component of painful illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis. A preliminary 2005 study of 58 patients with RA, roughly half of whom were given a placebo and roughly half of whom were given a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex, found “statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, quality of sleep” for patients on Sativex. Other studies testing both other cannabinoid products and inhaled marijuana have shown similar pain-relieving effects, according to the report. Some people with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis could also benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest. A 2014 paper, for example, describes two studies of people with chronic Crohn’s in which half were given the drug and half were given a placebo. That study showed a decrease in symptoms in 10 of 11 subjects using cannabis, compared with just four of 10 on the placebo. But when the researchers did a follow-up study using low-dose CBD, they saw no effect in the patients. Researchers say that, for now, we need more research before we’ll know whether cannabis can help with these diseases.
November 2, 2017