Due to the lack of scientific evidence, marijuana doctors used to be hesitant about recommending medical cannabis to patients with disorders like fibromyalgia, even if they personally believed in the plantspalliative effectiveness. Fortunately, thanks to recent studies depicting the effectiveness of medical marijuana as a potential treatment for fibromyalgia, medical marijuana doctors’ hesitation is now being replaced with a growing confidence that cannabis can benefit these patients plagued by chronic pain debilitatingfatigue.
For decades, both patients and medical cannabis doctors have advocated for the effectiveness of medical marijuana as a treatment for various diseases and conditions. However, in the past, these people rarely received support from the general public because they only had anecdotes to offer as evidence. Fortunately, recent studies have provided more concrete evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis for diseases, including fibromyalgia.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibrillation, also referred to as fibrosis, is a disorder that involves musculature pain that impacts the entire body, according to Mayo Clinic. This musculature pain is frequently accompanied by memory, fatigue, sleep, and mood issues. Most researchers believe that fibromyalgia impacts the function of the brain, particularly when it comes to processing pain signals. This results in the amplification of all painful and uncomfortable sensations.
An individual can develop fibromyalgia after a surgery, infection, physical trauma, or psychologically stressful event. However, some individuals accumulate the symptoms of fibromyalgia gradually over time with no one triggering event.
Women have a greater risk of developing fibrositis than men. Most people who have this disorder experience irritable bowel syndrome, tension headaches, depression, anxiety, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Unfortunately, researchers still have not developed a cure for fibromyalgia. Therefore, the only option for individuals suffering from this disorder is taking medications and developing new habits to control the symptoms. For example, relaxation, exercise, and stress-reduction measures are effective ways to manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Due to recent research and anecdotal evidence, many believe that medical marijuana is also a possible way to treat fibromyalgia symptoms.
What Are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?
One topic that is widely debated among researchers is the cause of fibromyalgia. Dr. Ethan Russo, a pharmacologist and neurologist, believes that fibromyalgia may be associated withClinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD).
The endocannabinoid system refers to a communications network in the body that promotes communication between organs, the brain, glands, connective tissues and more. Maintaining the homeostasis, or stable internal environment, of the human body is one of the main goals of the endocannabinoid system.
Accordingly, one’s health will suffer if the endocannabinoid system is disrupted. A disruption can cause many issues influencing gastrointestinal health, mood, sleep, and muscle spasticity. Dr. Russo realizes that these symptoms are also commonly experienced by those suffering from fibromyalgia.
Can Medical Marijuana Treat Fibromyalgia?
Like many chronic pain disorders, fibromyalgia is difficult to treat and impossible to cure. In 2008, Russo discussed his findings about the effectiveness of medical cannabis when it comes to treating the pain associated with fibromyalgia. In the paper, Russo discussed the ability of THC to reduce hypersensitivity to pain for patients suffering from fibromyalgia and migraines. The THC imitates anandamide, which is the natural endocannabinoid of the body. This also supports the idea that fibromyalgia is linked to the endocannabinoid system.
Russo argues that medical marijuana possesses other side effects that can prove helpful when it comes to treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some of these side benefits include anti-insomnia, anti-nausea, and neuroprotective antioxidant properties.
University of Manitoba researchers used Nabilone, which is a synthetic cannabinoid, to treat patients suffering from fibromyalgia. These researchers concluded that not only did the cannabinoid decrease the pain, but also the patients tolerated it well. Most patients saw major improvements when it comes to anxiety symptoms and tender points ato through 4-week mark. The researchers also found major improvements in the results of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaires (FIQ). This questionnaire tests for disturbances of quality of life like fatigue, muscle stiffness, depression, interference with work, fatigue, and physical functioning.
Medical marijuana doctors from Germany’s University of Heidelberg published a study in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion. In the study, the investigators studied the analgesic effects of oral THC. Nine patients suffering from fibromyalgia were involved in the study over three months. The subjects took daily doses of of oral THC. Subjects either took 2.5 or 15 mg of THC throughout the study. These subjects did not receive any other pain medications throughout the duration of the study. All of the subjects in the study reported a major improvement when it comes to daily recorded pain as well as electronically induced pain.
Every year, more states opt to legalize the use of medical marijuana as a treatment for a number of conditions and treatments, including fibromyalgia. Due to the legalization of medical marijuana and recent studies showing the effectiveness of medical marijuana, many marijuana doctors are recommending that their patients take medical marijuana. Patients suffering from fibromyalgia have been traditionally disregarded, so many are pleased to find an effective way to manage symptoms.
Marijuana plants (Cannabis sativa) may play a role in preventing and controlling diabetes, and treating diabetes complications according to several research articles.
That is the surprising conclusion reached after reviewing some science on the subject in order to answer questions along the lines of, “Will pot make my diabetes worse?” Politics and legalization issues aside, this article will highlight some of the findings. It does not suggest you start using marijuana or condone its use.
For the purpose of discussion, the research on marijuana and diabetes focuses on a compound in Cannabis called Cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD has medical effects but does not make people feel “stoned.” It actually counters some of the disconcerting effects of euphoria or lethargy associated with another substance found in Cannabis called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). After decades in which only high-THC Cannabis was available, CBD-rich strains are now being grown by and for medical users and may make it a more appealing treatment option. More than 25 CBD-rich strains have been identified, according to Project CDB, a nonprofit educational service dedicated to publicizing research into the medical utility of CBD and other components of the Cannabis plant.
Another important term to understand is endocannabinoids. “Endo” meaning inside, and cannabinoid — a chemical compound found in receptor sites of the nervous and immune systems. These receptors are in high concentrations in the brain, liver, muscle, gut, and fat tissue. Endocannabinoids are known as the brain’s “chemical marijuana.” Following, we explore the novel aspect of endocannabinoid system (ECS) research and the biological effects of plant cannabinoids as it relates to diabetes.
The Brain’s Own “Chemical Marijuana” Affects Metabolism and Glucose Control
Recent studies suggest that endocannabinoids may be a factor linked to metabolic syndrome. Endocannabinoid receptors have been identified in areas of the body responsible for modulating energy balance, feeding behavior, and glucose control.
Endocannabinoid stimulation leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, abnormal lipids (blood cholesterols), and impaired glucose tolerance. Overactivity of this system has been found in human obesity and in animal models of genetic and diet-induced obesity. So why not block this activity? Been there, done that — it was not safe.
The treatment with a specific endocannabinoid inhibitor drug, Rimonabant, showed incredible promise, but because of significant safety issues, is no longer available. In clinical trials, it reduced excess body weight; lowered blood pressure in hypertensive patients; improved insulin sensitivity, glucose control and A1C levels; corrected dyslipidemia; and decreased the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. The SERENADE (Study Evaluating Rimonabant Efficacy in Drug-NAive DiabEtic Patients) trial was a 6-month, multi-center/country, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study comparing rimonabant 20 mg once daily to a placebo on top of diet and exercise. Rimonabant lowered A1C and other important cardiovascular endpoints, but had serious side effects. These included increased risk for severe depression leading to suicide and development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Since it was pulled from European markets and was never approved by the FDA in the U.S., the best remaining option to maximize the endocannabinoid pathway is with Cannabidiol (CBD) use.
Cannabidol uses :
- Attenuates (slows the effects of) cardiac dysfunction, oxidative stress, fibrosis, and inflammatory and cell death signaling pathways in diabetic cardiomyopathy.
- Retards beta cell (-cell) damage in type 1 diabetes.
- Manages obesity and its associated cardiometabolic sequelae, and should remain open for consideration.
- Prevents type 1 in mice and protects against diabetic retinopathy in animals (American Diabetes Association funded a $300,000 study looking into it).
- Decreases clot formation (an important consideration for people with diabetes at risk for heart attacks and strokes, especially if taking other “blood thinning” medications).
- Offers therapeutic opportunities for a variety of inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, atherosclerosis, allergic asthma, and autoimmune type 1 diabetes.
- Has a therapeutic role in managing neurological complications of diabetes.
Protects nerves and preserves retinal barrier.
Tips for Use
Many people with and without diabetes, young and not, use marijuana. Compared with healthy youth, patients with diabetes use less tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs during the first years of adolescence but not later. Just like people who consume alcohol and may reap the benefits and risks of same, this is not intended to encourage anyone to fire up.
- Watch for low glucose values and plan accordingly. Some patients report drops in glucose up to 40 mg/dL (2.2 mmol/L).
- Watch for high glucose values and weight gain if you consistently get the munchies.
- Use in moderation.
- Stop use if interferes with your life, love/family or career, or other medical conditions.
- Select cannabis buds that contain more than 4% Cannabidiol (CBD) by weight.
- Get a vaporizer if you do smoke marijuana and want the cleanest form possible (search the Internet to find examples). That way, you will get the medicinal components without all the products of combustion. Edible forms are also available at most medical marijuana dispensaries.
- Beware of websites that offer “legal” buds or marijuana substitutes as those products are not regulated and often include other non-studied, additive substances.
- Depend on healthy eating, being active, taking medication, and healthy coping as the mainstays of a balanced diabetes self-management program. Marijuana is a complimentary and alternative medicine.
Marijuana remains illegal, although some states offer legal medical marijuana. The hope of therapeutic applications has lead to a resurgence of research activities. It will take decades before enough science has emerged to integrate into clinical practice guidelines, so the response from individual health practitioners will vary. An honest dialogue will better your chances of comprehensive care.
Cannabis vs Caffeine: Which is Safer, a Cup of Coffee or a Puff of Weed?
CANNABIS CULTURE – “In wise hands poison is medicine. In foolish hands medicine is poison.” – Casanova
A POPULAR DRUG
Like most drugs, this one goes by many names. In the world of science, it’s sometimes called “Theine” or “Guaranine” or “Methyltheobromine”. On the street, it’s called an “upper” or “stimulant” or “pep pill” or “candy bar” or “headache pill” or “hot beverage” or “soft drink”. Like sugar and alcohol, it’s more often considered a food than a medicine.
It is caffeine – the world’s second most popular psychoactive substance – second only to sugar. Global consumption of caffeine has been estimated at 120,000 tonnes per year, which amounts to one caffeinated beverage for every person on earth, every day.
Caffeine occurs naturally in over 60 plants found all over the world. People have been drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee for well over 1000 years. Legend has it that tea has been drunk for over 4000 years. And chocolate – which also contains a little bit of caffeine – has been around for nearly 4000 years as well – and became popular with the Europeans in the 1500s, as soon as they tasted it.
These days caffeine has been isolated from its botanical origins and can also come in a white powder similar to cocaine. It is also found in pep pills, diet pills, and headache medicine.
Caffeine is in headache medicine because you get a headache when you withdraw from caffeine. When you stop using abruptly, you feel icky – and most often you get a headache. So they put caffeine in headache medicine because humans are often caffeine junkies and the headache medicine is “feeding their Jones” and “giving them a fix” – not because caffeine by itself is any good at curing headaches.
COMPARE TO CANNABIS
Contrast this with another popular soft drug – cannabis. Cannabis is the most popular “illegal” substance in the world. Just how popular is a bit tricky to estimate.
Because possession can sometimes lead to a long jail sentence, and trafficking can be – once in a while – a death sentence, global cannabis use statistics aren’t all that accurate or a true reflection of popularity. But official estimates of lifetime use can vary from 20% to 50% of the global population. Those that use more than once per month is closer to 10% to 30%, depending who and how you ask.
Cannabis has been used for many thousands of years as a medicine/sacrament, and as a source of food and textiles.
It is now being investigated as the source of hundreds if not thousands of new medicines, due to the hundreds of different cannabinoids and terpenes that are found in cannabis – none of which are toxic, and all of which are medically active.
Now that the most popular illegal drug is looking more and more legal every day, how does it compare and contrast with the most popular drug, in terms of effects and risks and the current costs to society?
Caffeine is a stimulant. Stimulants are used to fight lethargy, reduce sleepiness, decrease appetite, and to help with concentration and focus.
Cannabis can also sometimes act as a stimulant, if the right strain and dose is taken. Cannabis can also be a relaxant, a time-slow-down performance-enhancing drug, and a medicine for many conditions due to the hundreds of different terpenes and cannbinoids found in the buds. Humans are just beginning to map out the strains and effects in order to realize cannabis’ true potential.
Caffeine and cannabis are similarly low-risk drugs, but there are some important differences. The first is the risk of a lethal overdose.
Deaths from caffeine overdose are rare, but there’s a few every year. A lethal dose of caffeine for an adult is somewhere between 3,200 milligrams and 10,000mg at one time.
Your typical 8 ounce cup of coffee contains 80-180mg of caffeine. Energy drinks contain up to 357mg. Anti-sleep and diet medicines contain up to 300mg. A “Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee with Turbo Shot” contains 436mg. A box of “Crackheads2” coffee bean candies contains 600mg, and comes with a warning label – “one box per day”. Over six boxes at once could be dangerous for an adult.
Pure caffeine powder is sold in a box with 124 one gram packages. That’s 124,000 milligrams – over a dozen lethal overdoses in every package.
The number of people who die of caffeine overdoses is low, but it’s been increasing over the past several years with the advent of energy drinks. Some researchers argue that many heart attack deaths could actually be undiagnosed caffeine overdose deaths, making the actual death toll significantly higher.
To contrast this with cannabis, there have been zero confirmed overdose deaths from cannabis – ever.
However, an unpleasant experience can be felt with even a small dose of cannabis – especially if one is unfamiliar with the effects, if the body is stressed, or if the mind is unready to experience the effects.
Nearly every user will feel uncomfortable if enough edible cannabis products are ingested. Moderation is the key to avoiding unwanted effects. When cannabis is smoked, very small amounts can have an effect almost immediately, allowing for “self-titration” or dosing. This is not possible with orally ingested drugs such as caffeine.
Long-term caffeine use kills between 1,000 to 10,000 people every year in the US, from “stress, ulcers and triggering irregular heartbeats,” according to the US Bureau of Mortality Statistics.
Cannabis overuse deaths are, again, zero, according to the same source.
According to a report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists published in 2005, caffeine withdrawal symptoms include “headache, irritability, sleeplessness, confusion, nausea, anxiety, restlessness and tremor, palpitations and raised blood pressure. They are at their worst for 1–2 days, then recede.”
Headaches from caffeine withdrawal are considered “extremely common”.
With cannabis, “If people experience withdrawal symptoms at all, they are remarkably mild.” Typical cannabis withdrawal symptoms might include irritability and mild insomnia.
It has been my personal experience that you might miss no longer being relaxed, hungry and happy, but unlike caffeine, there is no such thing as an “extremely common” marijuana-withdrawal headache
Of course, when you’re using cannabis for a medical reason, those symptoms can return when you quit using cannabis. This isn’t a withdrawal effect, this is the result of taking away a helpful medicine.
The more common side effects of caffeine, especially in large doses, are: diarrhea, dizziness, fast heartbeat, hyperglycemia, blurred vision, drowsiness, flushed dry skin, ketones in urine, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach ache, tiredness, troubled breathing, vomiting, anxious feeling, cold sweats, confusion, shakiness, irritability.
In contrast, cannabis’ acute toxicity is low compared with that of any other drugs. The side effects of large doses involve cognitive impairment, psycho-motor impairment, anxiety, dysphoria, panic and paranoia.
The one area where cannabis is more risky than caffeine is in the impairment experienced by a novice user after a typical dose. This could effect what age limits, if any, are placed upon legal cannabis access.
COST TO SOCIETY
Evaluating the costs of cannabis and caffeine to society is not easy. Both the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse limit their research to tobacco, alcohol, and “illegal drugs.” They exclude pharmaceuticals, and caffeine.
When caffeine is seen as a drug rather than a food, and testing for caffeine after road accidents and premature death becomes standard, the true costs of caffeine abuse will one day be recorded.
Similarly, the costs of so-called “cannabis abuse” are often confused with the costs of “prohibition enforcement,” or with problems stemming from the lack of education around cannabis harm-reduction.
When cannabis is fully legalized for all users, and education in cannabis harm reduction becomes common, cannabis’ true cost to society can be fairly evaluated.
To conclude, caffeine is clearly more risky, more dangerous, more deadly, more harmful and more costly than cannabis in every category – overdose deaths, overuse deaths, withdrawal symptoms and acute toxicity.
The only area where cannabis provides the greater risk is in regards to the impairment levels of novice users.
Regulations that treat cannabis as far more dangerous than caffeine don’t reflect reality, and should be challenged by drug peace activists. Society should treat each drug according to the risks that drug provides, rather than making rules based on ignorant myths and racist, outdated traditions.
As more and more Americans consider the pros and cons of cannabis legalization, many points are worth repeating, and chief among them: cannabis actually decreases the risk of lung cancer.
It’s a counter-intuitive notion, since tobacco smoking causes cancer, marijuana smoking must as well. But as the LA Weekly highlights Monday, it’s just not true. Decades of pulmonary research is in: pot decreases the risk of lung cancer and does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
LA Weekly managed to quote one of the nation’s leading pulmonologists, Dr. Donald Tashkin. The professor emeritus of medicine at UCLA once sought to prove pot causes lung cancer, but the evidence forced him to conclude the opposite.
Cannabis tar has more carcinogens than tobacco, but, Tashkin states, “we failed to find any positive association [with cancer].” Instead, “the association would be negative, between lung cancer and the use of marijuana. The likelihood is, that despite the fact that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens, we don’t see the same heightened risks of cancers that we see in tobacco.”
For one, THC, CBD and other cannabinoids have been shown in cell and animal studies to kill cancer.
Tashkin also states that smoking marijuana does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) perhaps because “marijuana is a potent anti-inflammatory and suppressive,” he says.
No lung doctor is about to recommend smoking anything. But the science is in. Pot is safer than cigarettes — so why are 750,000 Americans getting arrested for it?