How Medical Marijuana Can Increase Your Metabolism

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There’s always the stereotype–someone high on pot, going throughout their house, gobbling up any food they can find. And yes, one of the side effects of medical marijuana can be hunger. But surprisingly, marijuana has actually been found to increase your metabolism despite this stereotype.

How is that possible?

Recently, the University of Miami examined around 8,500 individuals, ranging from 20 to 59 years old, via the National Health and Nutrition Surveys. They found cannabis users on average:

  • Had lower blood sugar levels
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Less risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Less abdominal fat
  • Lower levels of bad cholesterol.

There have also been several other studies reconfirming this research. This led down another series of questioning, because how could a substance famous for making people eat more actually have an opposite effect on their bodies?

Well, it has to do with the chemicals that control hunger. In order to make us feel hungry, an endocannabinoid (yes, that is the actual term) called “anandamide” is released in our system. Anandamide is replaced by THC when we consume marijuana. This compound specifically activates the cell receptor known as the CB1 receptor, which increases appetite in your brain. But at the same time, other compounds in marijuana activate other cell receptors that encourage different urges to deactivate–for instance, the storage of fat from the food that you consume.

In effect, this cancels many of the effects from the added calories you may be consuming, as well as gives you the additional medical benefits associated with medical marijuana.

Does this mean you can use all the medical marijuana you want to not gain weight? Of course not. But it does show that there continues to be more benefits to this substance than we fully understand yet, and we need to keep researching its health properties.

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on November 20, 2016.

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Stop Feeling Sick to Your Stomach: Medical Marijuana and Crohn’s Disease

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Every few months, as more research on the beneficial effects of Medical Marijuana is released, we find new diseases and ailments that it can help treat. One we haven’t talked about so far is Crohn’s disease, and how studies of shown that Medical Marijuana can help dull or eliminate the symptoms of this chronic condition.

First, a quick crash course in what Crohn’s disease is. Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract, and affects the small intestine more than the large. It can be aggravated in many different ways, but it can lead to problems that include chronic diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and fissures in the digestive tract.

Most interestingly, it’s a disease that flares up from time to time, with patients often going long periods without experiencing a symptom before rearing it’s ugly head again. Because of this, many treatments involve taking steroids during the flare-ups in order to eliminate the symptoms and heal the intestine. However, because steroids can be habit-forming and many times are stronger than one needs, science has been trying to find a better solution to deal with this problem.

Which brings us to the Medical Marijuana study.

Original Published in the journal of  Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology and then reposted on Medical Daily, an experiment was conducted to see the effects of Medical Marijuana on patients with acute Crohn’s disease, and the results were pretty shocking. 10 out of the 11 patients not exposed the placebo were weaned off of the heavy steroids used to commonly treat their disease, with medical marijuana having the exact same effects with nowhere near the level of side-effects.

Those are some incredibly promising results, effectively showing that Medical Pot could be a much safer alternative to the current steroid use the disease demands. Over and over again, we see evidence of Medical Marijuana’s ability to relieve the symptoms of diseases and conditions with no known cures. The more science behind the restorative properties of Medical Pot, the faster it’s likely to be approved, so we’re all for science continuing to push the limits of what marijuana can do.

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on October 28, 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

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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