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marijuana healing powers

University Communications
Nov 7, 2017

By studying the wide range of cannabinoids found in marijuana, Laprairie’s lab aims to develop new synthetic cannabinoid compounds which may be useful for the treatment of addiction, pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. His research utilizes molecular biology, cell culture and animal models to study the pharmacology of cannabinoids.

“Over the past 15 years alone, GSK has helped establish 23 Research Chairs in the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy at Canadian universities, including in respiratory health, virology, HIV, oncology, and the management of chronic disease,” said Amyn Sayani, director of research and development alliances for GSK. “Our partnership with CIHR allows Canadian academic institutions to independently identify and select promising new science from investigators in Canada in a number of therapy areas where Canada is recognized for its leadership.”

“This research is critically important to the health of Canadians because medical marijuana use is increasingly common. We want to gain more insight into the use of marijuana as a medicine for a wide range of diseases,” said Laprairie.

He will also be teaching within the new Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program.

Patients do, however, report many benefits of CBD, from relieving insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and pain to treating potentially life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy. One particular form of childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome is almost impossible to control but responds dramatically to a CBD-dominant strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web. The videos of this are dramatic.

These are just a few of the excellent questions around this subject, questions that I am going to studiously avoid so we can focus on two specific areas: why do patients find it useful, and how can they discuss it with their doctor?

Marijuana without the high

In particular, marijuana appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. This is an area where few other options exist, and those that do, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are highly sedating. Patients claim that marijuana allows them to resume their previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged.

Marijuana is also used to manage nausea and weight loss and can be used to treat glaucoma. A highly promising area of research is its use for PTSD in veterans who are returning from combat zones. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic improvement and clamor for more studies, and for a loosening of governmental restrictions on its study. Medical marijuana is also reported to help patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

Along these lines, marijuana is said to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. I have also heard of its use quite successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.

I’ll be the first to admit it: I am a cannabis user and advocate of safe access for all people (over the age of 21). Cannabis is an amazing plant! There is tremendous anecdotal, as well as scientifically backed, evidence of the plant’s healing potential. The real power of cannabis comes from cannabinoids, and the most commonly known are THC & CBD.

The endogenous cannabinoid system, also known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), can be thought of as the air traffic control center for the body. It controls physiological processes, including appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory. The ECS consists of two primary cannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors (most concentrated in the central nervous system and brain) and CB2 receptors (abundant in the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and peripheral nervous systems). The natural cannabinoids and phytonutrients found in cannabis communicate with these signal receptors of the ECS to help reduce aches, pains, and inflammation.

The Science of How THC and CBD Works

But to understand the power behind both compounds, we have to first understand how both behave within the human body. That leads us to the human Endocannabiniod System .

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) have complicated histories as medicine. More recently though, the efficacy of both THC and CBD have become more normalized, mainstream, and popular as viable means for fighting pain, helping aid in healthy sleep, reduce anxiety, and promote overall health and wellness. In fact, a recent gallup poll shows that one in seven Americans say they personally use CBD and over 55 million Americans have tried cannabis (with over 35 million defined as ‘regular users’).

I consistently use cannabis as medicine, more specifically THC & CBD, as a means to help regulate my anxiety, fight lower back pain, and when I need to recover after a workout. If you are interested in trying cannabis-derived products for pain I recommend starting with Papa & Barkley’s Releaf line . If you need something more localized (like I do for my lower back pain) then try a Releaf patch or Releaf body oil (it works wonders when combined with massage!).