Serious Conditions Are Responding To Cannabinoid Therapy
As medical cannabis emerges from the dark days of prohibition, researchers are finding a wide range of conditions responding successfully to it. Because cannabis is still a schedule 1 drug in the U.S., clinical research is extremely difficult to conduct. However, thanks to our friends in Israel and case studies from leading U.S cannabis physicians, we can see its extraordinary potential which is leading us to a true medical revolution.
Israeli scientists have explained what happens when specific strains of cannabis interact with specific types of cancer cells. It stops the malignant cells from moving. Naturally, cells in our bodies are not mobile but cancer cells are. This is the reason that cancer can metastasize. The challenging part is that every individual strain is a different medicine and every individual cancer is a different disease. To sum it up, although we know cannabis will stop cancer from spreading and cut off its blood supply, we are not advanced enough yet to know exactly what strain profile targets which cancer. With clinical research developing rapidly in Israel and with the use of innovative technology we hope to have this information in the near future. For now, we can use a variety of strains in the form of concentrated cannabis oil to hopefully get lucky and find the right one. Cannabis oil is being used successfully in combination with chemotherapy and radiation to kill cancer but also to help unwanted side effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and pain.
Seizure disorders are on the list of qualifying conditions for most medical cannabis states. Because nearly one-third of patients with epilepsy are not getting the results they want from conventional treatments, they are eager to experiment with natural cannabinoid therapy. So far, science is telling us that yes cannabis has anti-seizure actions. However, because cannabinoids reduce seizures through numerous mechanisms of actions, possible drug interactions are still unclear. After evaluating clinical records from a children's hospital in Washington State and a private cannabinoid medicine practice in California, we see that patients with refractory epilepsy show improvement from cannabinoid treatment. Of 272 combined patients, 86% experienced some clinical benefit, and 10% experienced a complete clinical response. Beneficial side effects included improved mood, better sleep, and increased appetite. Although these results are extremely promising, the wide dosing range of cannabis is complicated, expensive, and can be inaccessible. At this point, it seems seizure disorders respond best to a range of 27:1 to 15:1 CBD: THC full spectrum cannabis oil. However, acidic cannabinoid THCA has recent anecdotal evidence of being an effective anticonvulsant and is currently being investigated as a treatment for epilepsy as well. As for now, a standard approach for treating epilepsy with cannabis is individualized and requires careful titration.
According to a published study from Israel, medical cannabis has been found to lessen the symptoms of Autism in children with few side effects. Some of the common symptoms associated with autism are tics, depression, restlessness, and rage attacks. These symptoms can be unbearable for both patients and their caregivers. Unfortunately, the conventional pharmaceuticals used to treat these symptoms have significant side effects leaving families with no solution. The joint study conducted by Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba analyzed 188 teens diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between 2015 and 2017. The majority of cases were treated with cannabis oil containing 30% cannabidiol oil (CBD) and 1.5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Following the treatment period, there was a 35.5% improvement in the quality of life, 21% improvement in a positive mood, 16.5% improvement in ability to dress and shower independently, and 21.4% improvement in good sleep. While these results are promising, double-blinded placebo-controlled trials are critical to getting a better understanding of how cannabis effects ASD patients.
In many cases, debilitating and life-threatening diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, and autism often seem impossible to treat when traditional treatments aren’t working. Hopefully, the development of cannabinoid medicine will bring hope and enthusiasm to families worldwide, as they take the plunge into this alternative holistic treatment. The huge difference between medical cannabis and traditional pharmaceuticals is that cannabis is quickly becoming accessible to treat conditions before clinical trials and standard dosing protocols have been established. Although this experimental approach can be intimidating for many, it is important to note that cannabis has an excellent safety profile and is well tolerated by most. Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Director of Canna-Centers and practicing medical cannabis physician, states cannabis to have “clinical evidence of significant success with no toxicity”. This cannot be said for most if any prescribed or over the counter medicines on today's market. Although we still have many obstacles to face in the medical cannabis industry such as drug scheduling, funding for clinical trials, physician education, and quality medicine, studies thus far reassure us of the amazing healing potential of cannabis.
Staff, T. (2019) Cannabis may help relieve Autism symptoms, Israeli study shows. Retrieved from https://www.timesofisrael.com/cannabis-may-help-relieve-autism-symptoms-israeli-study-shows/
Sulak, Saneto, & Goldstein. (2017) The current status of artisanal cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(16)30477-2/fulltext
Tedx Talks. (2018) Behind the smokescreen of medical cannabis [Dedi Meiri], TEDx Tel Aviv Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ioJbVyNg08
Assistant Clinical Director
Erin has worked for Peninsula Alternative Heatlh (PAH) since the doors opened in December 2017. Her role at PAH consists of guiding patients through cannabis protocols based on their individual needs. Erin works closely with the rest of the PAH staff, to stay current with the latest clinical cannabis research and the emphasis on therapeutic communication.