Bacteria in Medical Marijuana?

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With medical marijuana’s growing legalization, more and more tests are being done on it to figure out just what properties it has. This week, the University of California came out with an odd warning. When studying people with weakened immune systems, they discovered that they are at a greater risk of infection of fungi and bacteria found in medical marijuana.

How was this discovered? Well the head doctor of the study had been working with patients with depleted immune systems. While examining them, he noticed that those who had been prescribed medical marijuana to treat some of their pain relief often wound up with fungal infections.

The cause? The marijuana itself. Because it’s a natural product, it can contain bacteria and fungi that a user might not know about, and because it’s only just growing in legalization, the methods to weed it out (no pun intended) might not be sophisticated enough. And that’s most likely the case, seeing as how the doctor tested samples from 20 different dispensaries and found they all had fungi or bacteria.

Does this mean you should reconsider medical marijuana? No. In people with healthy immune systems, these are basically harmless. But for people undergoing immune weakening treatments such as chemotherapy, or anything that requires immunosuppressants, medical marijuana may not be the best treatment for their pain systems.

So bottom line, as with any medication, ask your doctor about potential side-effects before starting medical marijuana, and possibly investigate other options if you have a weakened immune system.

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Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on February 11, 2017.

Can Medical Marijuana Help People with Hep-C?

Hepatitis Diagnosis. Medical Concept.

There is a growing list of diseases that medical marijuana can help with, and lately many people have been investigating if medical pot can help people suffering from Hepatitis-C. So, what are the details?

First, let’s discuss Hepatitis-C. Hep-C is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the liver. If left untreated, it can be a fatal disease, slowly eroding the body’s ability to digest food properly. In order to combat Hep-C, you have to take a daily pill regimen to halt the progress of the disease. Unfortunately, these pills can have a large variety of unwanted, and very acute, side effects.

One of the side effects of these pills is extreme nausea, to the point where simply moving around can make your stomach feel like you’re trapped on a cruise ship. In order to deal with this (and to avoid adding more pills into the mix) many doctors are beginning to prescribe medical marijuana thanks to its ability to easily calm your stomach. This continues to be the common use for medical marijuana — to nullify the side effects of a prescription drug without forcing you to take other pharmaceuticals.

In terms of helping with the disease generally, medical marijuana is not particularly useful. While it can dull some of the symptoms, it cannot halt the disease, and is therefore only a supplement to a treatment regimen.

If you have Hep-C and are looking to alleviate some of the side-effects of your medications, talk to your doctor and see about possible medical marijuana options in your area.


Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on December 5, 2016.

Sleep Apnea and Medical Marijuana

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“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”- Thomas Dekker

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts at irregular intervals. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax, and central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Some people may have a combination of the two called, complex sleep apnea. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea are rarely aware of their difficulty breathing, even upon awakening.

Some major signs of sleep apnea include loud and chronic snoring, choking, snorting, or gasping during sleep, long pauses in breathing, daytime sleepiness (no matter how much time you spend in bed), insomnia, forgetfulness, morning headaches and more. If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor. Treatment is necessary to avoid heart problems and other complications.

There are many different treatments to sleep apnea. Some of which are as simple as sleeping on your side or propping your head up, doing throat exercises, and changing your diet, but others can include prescription drugs, CPAP masks, and surgery.

How can cannabis help?

The journal of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, researchers at the University of Illinois Department of Medicine reported “potent suppression” of sleep-related apnea in rats administered either exogenous or endogenous cannabinoids. Investigators reported that doses of delta-9-THC and the endocannabinoid oleamide each stabilized respiration during sleep and blocked serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea in a statistically significant manner. Several recent preclinical and clinical trials have reported on the use of THC, natural cannabis extracts and endocannabinoids to induce sleep and/or improve sleep quality.

Following the positive results of this pre-clinical trial, lead author Dr. David Carley published the first human trial to investigate the effects of THC (dronabinol) on sleep apnea. The results showed an overall reduction in apnea indexes of 32%, despite significant variance between patients. Even though a 32% reduction is minor when compared to the effectiveness of current treatment options (such as CPAP and oral devices), the authors suggest that cannabinoid medications could still be of benefit to patients who suffer from mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea, and could do so in a much more natural way.

Currently, researchers are studying a synthetic cannabis based pill, called dronabinol, that might be viable, and a much less intrusive, treatment for sleep apnea if approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Originally published on www.medicalmarijuana.com on August 31, 2016.

Blind Faith? Considerations About Medical Marijuana & Glaucoma

Ophthalmology concept. Male patient under eye vision examination

Generally speaking we tout the potential of marijuana, advocating its medical advantages left, right, and center. We praise its benefits for pain reduction, epilepsy, nausea, autism, MS, anorexia, and countless other conditions — the list is positively exhaustive. And yet, we would not advocate for marijuana unequivocally. One case where we do not outright recommend marijuana’s medicinal properties is with glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a condition where increased pressure within the eyeball causes damage to the optic nerve, risking and often causing blindness, especially among the elderly. Several advocates of medicinal marijuana cite small-study or anecdotal evidence that cannabis can lower intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with glaucoma. However, these products are less effective than safer prescription drugs.

Side Effects

In order to produce a clinically-relevant pressure reduction on IOP, frequent inhalation is required because the effect only lasts a few hours. This means one would need to smoke a joint every 3 hours. The number of significant side effects generated by long-term oral use of marijuana or long-term inhalation of marijuana smoke can make it a poor choice in the treatment of glaucoma, a chronic disease requiring proven and effective treatment.

The only marijuana currently approved at the US-federal level for medical use is Marinol, a synthetic form of tetra hydrocannabinol (THC) — the most active component of marijuana and the one which produces the “high.” Marinol was developed as an antiemetic (an agent that reduces nausea used in chemotherapy treatments), which can be taken orally in capsule form.

But it turns out that the effects of Marinol in general, and on glaucoma in particular, are not impressive compared to the real thing. Yet in terms of glaucoma, no studies have shown that marijuana or any of its approximately 400 chemical components can safely and effectively lower intraocular pressure better than the variety of drugs currently on the market. In addition, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, while marijuana might lower intraocular pressure, it also lowers blood pressure, which in turn could provide less blood to the optic nerve.

IOC pressure notwithstanding, the issue of pain still remains. That is to say, while medical marijuana might not help with curing glaucoma, it can provide a great sense of pain-relief comfort to glaucoma sufferers. Part of the reason for legalizing marijuana is to allow adults to make the best choices. Glaucoma, it seems, is a prime example of such a dilemma, best discussed with your medical marijuana supportive care provider.


Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on May 12, 2016.

Is Marijuana Safe During Pregnancy?

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Nausea. Anxiety. Pain. These symptoms are part of most women’s pregnancies, often defining them for the entire nine months. Since marijuana can help these symptoms, and is now legal in several states, pregnant women are starting to beg the question: Could marijuana be medically useful for the nausea, the anxiety, and the pain? But if so, would it be dangerous for my baby?

For discussion purposes, we will look at two reports.

1) A December 2015 abstract from the NIH’s PubMed.gov (under the auspices of the national biotech research center) says don’t even go there. Evidence is lacking to prove marijuana is safe during pregnancy, and all the more so, past studies indicate that marijuana could be dangerous for the fetus. Complications center around “problems with neurological development, resulting in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and changes in dopaminergic receptors,” the report says.

2) A report by labor support doula Pamela McColl in the homebirth midwifery Birth Institute reviewed several studies dating between 1975 and 2011, and concluded similarly to the PubMed.gov abstract, stating outright, “Marijuana use during pregnancy interrupts fetal brain development.”

While both of these reports conclude that pregnant women should not use marijuana, neither of them can say that it is 100% dangerous. The PubMed.gov report admits that studies have not been comprehensive, and the studies cited by McCall are older and do not all examine cannabis usage during pregnancy per se.

More Questions Remain

All things considered, perhaps pregnant women are missing out if marijuana could be deemed safe, in quantity and quality, for them and their babies. As a related matter on the feminine front, a recently-released cannabis product called Fiora Relief garnered viral attention for its cures for premenstrual and menstrual cramps. Stick the cannabis suppository up the vagina, and voila, those wrenchingly-heavy, stop-you-in-your-tracks uterine pangs and lower back aches are gone.

Wait a minute. Menstrual cramps are mini uterine contractions. So could this solution do the trick for the really heavy labor contractions? After all, it can also be inserted rectally. At this point it’s unlikely anyone in the conventional medical community will suggest this because the effects of a cannabis suppository, even rectally, might risk the baby getting high and affecting the heart rate. Another question is whether cannabis for pain relief would be any safer than other medical pain relief, such as epidurals, which can also affect heart rate. We do not mean to imply the safety of either option, rather to raise the question of statistical probability of risks when comparing marijuana usage to accepted modern medicine norms.

No for Now

All told, to date, the safety of marijuana usage in pregnancy is toggling the line of opening up a can of worms. Like many pregnancy safety questions, researchers and doctors understandably are leery of giving a definitive answer because there’s a developing baby involved. As such, the answer — like the blanket US medical stance on alcohol consumption during pregnancy — is “since we can’t know, the answer is no.” In other words, the better-safe-than-sorry approach is the official medical word. Pregnant women are advised against using marijuana routinely during pregnancy, legalities notwithstanding. What people try on their own has been, and remains, another story.

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on February 18, 2016