The Cannabis Research That Should Be Front Page News

Christine Colbert May 12, 2019 2 comments

Cannabis research is producing some headline-worthy reports for health and medicine.

Study by study, science is finding more reasons to investigate the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. Aside from its growing legalization and popularity worldwide, growers and researchers alike are finding an inexhaustible well of knowledge to be had in cannabis. Overall, so much information is emerging on a daily basis, keeping track of the flood of constant cannabis reports can be a challenge.

Indeed, these are only a few recent impactful findings in cannabis research that may have missed the news.

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Reports Enhancing The Understanding of Cannabis on Neurology

Science is continuing to uncover how cannabis could potentially help patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and other neurological conditions. Soon that research will move forward with more clinical trials, and much-needed funding.

Just this last December, the University of Alberta announced its plans for further investigation into cannabis and neurological conditions. With funding from Atlas Biotechnologies, scientists will focus on how cannabinoids can be used to treat MS, Huntington’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent promising studies helped lead the way to this advancement in research. One review study published in Neurology of Systemic Diseases (2018) found that cannabinoids could have an effect in treating pain and spasticity caused by MS.1)Nielsen, S., Germanos, R., Weier, M., Pollard, J., Degenhardt, L., Hall, W., Buckley, N., & Farrell, M. (2018). The Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Treating Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis: a Systematic Review of Reviews. Current neurology and neuroscience reports, 18(2), 8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11910-018-0814-x

More Study Necessary on Neurological Effects

A report published in the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (2019) also concluded that cannabis might have the ability to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s.2)Peprah, K. P. and S. M. C., & McCormack, S. (2019). Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Dementia: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health And a study published by German researchers in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease (2018) found that cannabinoids could potentially treat dystonia — a symptom of Huntington’s disease.3)Saft, C., Hein, S. M. V., Lücke, T., Thiels, C., Peball, M., Djamshidian, A., … Seppi, K. (2018). Cannabinoids for Treatment of Dystonia in Huntington’s Disease. Journal of Huntingtons Disease, 7(2), 167–173. doi: 10.3233/jhd-170283

But in order to make solid conclusions about the effectiveness of treating these conditions with cannabis, further study is needed. Namely, human clinical trials. We’ll be watching to see what comes from this partnership between U of A and Atlas Biotechnologies.

Cannabis May Reduce Opioid Dependence

The opioid epidemic has unquestionably become a national emergency in the United States. Overall, one-hundred and twenty-eight people die every day in the U.S. from an opioid overdose. Accordingly, in 2017, there were almost fifty-eight opioid prescriptions written for every one hundred Americans. This data comes from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Problematic use of opioids is what leads to dependence. Accordingly, doctors call this “Opioid Use Disorder” (OUD). By preventing OUD, health officials hope to reduce the rate of overdose deaths. And science is discovering that cannabis could potentially help lower opioid dependence.

A study from the University of California, Berkeley was published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research (2017), in order to suggest that cannabis might help.4)Reiman, Amanda, et al. Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers, 1 June 2017, www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2017.0012 The study surveyed 2,897 medical cannabis patients about their consumption of cannabis instead of opioids, and how it impacted their pain levels. A staggering ninety-seven percent of the respondents said cannabis helped reduce their consumption of opioids.

Preferred Method for Pain Reduction

Even more impressive, ninety-two percent of respondents said they preferred cannabis to opioids for pain management. This is big news for cannabis and for patients suffering from chronic pain — but it isn’t exactly new.

Meanwhile, in 2014, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that states with legalized medical cannabis laws showed significantly lower numbers of opioid-related deaths. More research will show how well the two are correlated, but so far the results are pointing in that direction.5)CL;, Bachhuber MA;Saloner B;Cunningham CO;Barry. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Internal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25154332/

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Cannabis Can Kill Cancer Cells

This kind of news is already becoming well-known, but the growing number of cannabis reports supporting treatment for cancer are worth repeating. Cancer researchers have continued to delve into the mechanics of how cannabis could potentially kill certain cancer cells. Their results have been particularly intriguing.

Meanwhile, a recent review published in the Journal of Pancreatic Cancer (2019) showed that there is enough evidence to suggest that cannabinoids could potentially fight pancreatic cancer. Through in vitro studies, researchers have found that THC and CBD could help encourage cancer cell death.6)Sharafi, Golnaz, et al. “Potential Use of Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer.” Journal of Pancreatic Cancer, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers, 25 Jan. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352507/

Moreover, a 2019 study in Frontiers in Oncology discovered that a flavonoid derivative from the cannabis plant could enhance pancreatic cancer cell death when correspondingly combined with radiation. But treating this deadly form of cancer isn’t the only impactful discovery for cannabis and cancer.7)Moreau, Michele, et al. “Flavonoid Derivative of Cannabis Demonstrates Therapeutic Potential in Preclinical Models of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer.” Frontiers in Oncology, Frontiers Media S.A., 23 July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6663976/ A study in Current Oncology (2016) highlighted the potential benefits for cannabinoid cancer treatment. In their analysis, they found that THC could encourage the apoptotic death of cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.8)Velasco, G, et al. “Anticancer Mechanisms of Cannabinoids.” Current Oncology (Toronto, Ont.), Multimed Inc., Mar. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791144/

What Cannabis Reports Will the Future Bring?

To verify these findings, researchers are pushing for further clinical trials. Unquestionably leading the way is the Australian government, which announced its plans to fund cannabis-cancer research in October, 2019. Significantly, it committed three million dollars (AUD) to researching how cannabis may treat cancer or cancer-related symptoms.

While these are only a few stories detailing how cannabis is making waves in medicine, there is still much work to be done. More human trials are necessary to finally understand how cannabis can be used to treat a range of health conditions, as well as its long term effects on the human body. In the meantime, it’s an exciting time for cannabis researchers as they uncover more fascinating results.

References   [ + ]

1.Nielsen, S., Germanos, R., Weier, M., Pollard, J., Degenhardt, L., Hall, W., Buckley, N., & Farrell, M. (2018). The Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Treating Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis: a Systematic Review of Reviews. Current neurology and neuroscience reports, 18(2), 8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11910-018-0814-x
2.Peprah, K. P. and S. M. C., & McCormack, S. (2019). Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Dementia: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
3.Saft, C., Hein, S. M. V., Lücke, T., Thiels, C., Peball, M., Djamshidian, A., … Seppi, K. (2018). Cannabinoids for Treatment of Dystonia in Huntington’s Disease. Journal of Huntingtons Disease, 7(2), 167–173. doi: 10.3233/jhd-170283
4.Reiman, Amanda, et al. Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers, 1 June 2017, www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2017.0012
5.CL;, Bachhuber MA;Saloner B;Cunningham CO;Barry. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Internal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25154332/
6.Sharafi, Golnaz, et al. “Potential Use of Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer.” Journal of Pancreatic Cancer, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers, 25 Jan. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352507/
7.Moreau, Michele, et al. “Flavonoid Derivative of Cannabis Demonstrates Therapeutic Potential in Preclinical Models of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer.” Frontiers in Oncology, Frontiers Media S.A., 23 July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6663976/
8.Velasco, G, et al. “Anticancer Mechanisms of Cannabinoids.” Current Oncology (Toronto, Ont.), Multimed Inc., Mar. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791144/

2 comments

  1. Avatar

    Lee Howarth

    What strength of cannabis oil is needed to kill cancer cells. Are the small bottles available in England from suppliers like Holland and Barrett any good??

  2. Avatar

    Carol carpenter

    I take cannabis for pain works wonders. I have rheumatoid arthritis.

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