Is Marijuana a Medicine?

Charlene DeGidio never smoked marijuana in the 1960s, or afterward. But a year ago, after medications failed to relieve the pain in her legs and feet, a doctor suggested that the Adna, Wash., retiree try the drug.

Ms. DeGidio, 69 years old, bought candy with marijuana mixed in. It worked in easing her neuropathic pain, for which doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause, she says. Now, Ms. DeGidio, who had previously tried without success other drugs including Neurontin and lidocaine patches, nibbles marijuana-laced peppermint bars before sleep, and keeps a bag in her refrigerator that she’s warned her grandchildren to avoid.

“It’s not like you’re out smoking pot for enjoyment or to get high,” says the former social worker, who won’t take the drug during the day because she doesn’t want to feel disoriented. “It’s a medicine.”

For many patients like Ms. DeGidio, it’s getting easier to access marijuana for medical use. The U.S. Department of Justice has said it will not generally prosecute ill people under doctors’ care whose use of the drug complies with state rules. New Jersey will become the 14th state to allow therapeutic use of marijuana, and the number is likely to grow. Illinois and New York, among others, are considering new laws.

As the legal landscape for patients clears somewhat, the medical one remains confusing, largely because of limited scientific studies. A recent American Medical Association review found fewer than 20 randomized, controlled clinical trials of smoked marijuana for all possible uses. These involved around 300 people in all—well short of the evidence typically required for a pharmaceutical to be marketed in the U.S.

Doctors say the studies that have been done suggest marijuana can benefit patients in the areas of managing neuropathic pain, which is caused by certain types of nerve injury, and in bolstering appetite and treating nausea, for instance in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. “The evidence is mounting” for those uses, says Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego.

But in a range of other conditions for which marijuana has been considered, such as epilepsy and immune diseases like lupus, there’s scant and inconclusive research to show the drug’s effectiveness. Marijuana also has been tied to side effects including a racing heart and short-term memory loss and, in at least a few cases, anxiety and psychotic experiences such as hallucinations. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate marijuana, so the quality and potency of the product available in medical-marijuana dispensaries can vary.

Though states have been legalizing medical use of marijuana since 1996, when California passed a ballot initiative, the idea remains controversial. Opponents say such laws can open a door to wider cultivation and use of the drug by people without serious medical conditions. That concern is heightened, they say, when broadly written statutes, such as California’s, allow wide leeway for doctors to decide when to write marijuana recommendations.

But advocates of medical-marijuana laws say certain seriously ill patients can benefit from the drug and should be able to access it with a doctor’s permission. They argue that some patients may get better results from marijuana than from available prescription drugs.

Glenn Osaki, 51, a technology consultant from Pleasanton, Calif., says he smokes marijuana to counter nausea and pain. Diagnosed in 2005 with advanced colon cancer, he has had his entire colon removed, creating digestive problems, and suffers neuropathic pain in his hands and feet from a chemotherapy drug. He says smoking marijuana was more effective and faster than prescription drugs he tried, including one that is a synthetic version of marijuana’s most active ingredient, known as THC.

The relatively limited research supporting medical marijuana poses practical challenges for doctors and patients who want to consider it as a therapeutic option. It’s often unclear when, or whether, it might work better than traditional drugs for particular people. Unlike prescription drugs it comes with no established dosing regimen.

“I don’t know what to recommend to patients about what to use, how much to use, where to get it,” says Scott Fishman, chief of pain medicine at the University of California, Davis medical school, who says he rarely writes marijuana recommendations, typically only at a patient’s request.

Researchers say it’s difficult to get funding and federal approval for marijuana research. In November, the AMA urged the federal government to review marijuana’s position in the most-restricted category of drugs, so it could be studied more easily.

Gregory T. Carter, a University of Washington professor of rehabilitation medicine, says he’s developed his own procedures for recommending marijuana, which he does for some patients with serious neuromuscular conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, to treat pain and other symptoms. He typically urges those who haven’t tried it before to start with a few puffs using a vaporizer, which heats the marijuana to release its active chemicals, then wait 10 minutes. He warns them to have family nearby and to avoid driving, and he checks back with them after a few days. Many are “surprised at how mild” the drug’s psychotropic effects are, he says.

States’ rules on growing and dispensing medical marijuana vary. Some states license specialized dispensaries. These can range from small storefronts to bigger operations that feel more like pharmacies. Typically, they have security procedures to limit walk-in visitors.

At least a few dispensaries say they inspect their suppliers and use labs to check the potency of their product, though states don’t generally require such measures. “It’s difficult to understand how we can call it medicine if we don’t know what’s in it,” says Stephen DeAngelo, executive director of the Harborside Health Center, a medical-marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif.

Some of the strongest research results support the idea of using marijuana to relieve neuropathic pain. For example, a trial of 50 AIDS patients published in the journal Neurology in 2007 found that 52% of those who smoked marijuana reported a 30% or greater reduction in pain. Just 24% of those who got placebo cigarettes reported the same lessening of pain.

Marijuana has also been shown to affect nausea and appetite. The AMA review said three controlled studies with 43 total participants showed a “modest” anti-nausea effect of smoked marijuana in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Studies of HIV-positive patients have suggested that smoked marijuana can improve appetite and trigger weight gain.

Donald Abrams, a doctor and professor at the University of California, San Francisco who has studied marijuana, says he recommends it to some cancer patients, including those who haven’t found standard anti-nausea drugs effective and some with loss of appetite.

Side effects can be a problem for some people. Thea Sagen, 62, an advanced neuroendocrine cancer patient in Seaside, Calif., says she expected something like a pharmacy when she went to a marijuana dispensary mentioned by her oncologist. She says she was disappointed to find that the staffers couldn’t say which of the products, with names like Pot ‘o Gold and Blockbuster, might boost her flagging appetite or soothe her anxiety. “They said, ‘it’s trial and error,’ “she says. “I was in there flying blind, looking at all this stuff.”

Ms. Sagen says she bought several items and tried one-eighth teaspoon of marijuana-infused honey. After a few hours, she was hallucinating , too dizzy and confused to dress herself for a doctor’s appointment. Then came vomiting far worse than her stomach upset before she took the drug. When she reported the side effects to her oncologist’s nurse and her primary-care physician, she got no guidance. She doesn’t take the drug now. But with advice from a nutritionist, her appetite and food intake have improved, she says.

Other marijuana users may experience the well-known reduction in ability to concentrate. At least a few users suffer troubling short-term psychiatric side effects, which can include anxiety and panic. More controversially, an analysis published in the journal Lancet in 2007 tied marijuana use to a higher rate of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia. But the analysis noted that such a link doesn’t necessarily show marijuana is a cause of the conditions.

Long-term marijuana use can lead to physical dependence, though it is not as addictive as nicotine or alcohol, says Margaret Haney, a professor at Columbia University’s medical school. Smoked marijuana may also risk lung irritation, but a large 2006 study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found no tie to lung cancer.

Some studies and reviews examining the possible medical uses, and side effects, of marijuana are being conducted by.

    * Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, University of California

    * American College of Physicians

    * Institute of Medicine

To read more on Marijuana and its effectiveness, the following periodicals have spent time reviewing certain aspects of medical marijuana.

To treat pain:

    * Neurology

    * Journal of Pain

    * Neuropsychopharmacology

To treat nausea:

    * Annals of Internal Medicine

    * Cancer

    * Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior

To restore appetite:

    * Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

    * Psychopharmacology

To treat spasticity:

    * Neurologist

Overviews of Potential Side Effects:

    * Canadian Medical Association Journal

    * Clinical Toxicology

Mental Effects:

    * Neuropsychology Review

    * Lancet


    * Current Psychiatry Reports

    * Current Opinion in Psychiatry

Effects on Lungs

    * Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention



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    When it happens to using colorectal detoxifies reduce fat, you will find quite a few men and women, possibly the same as you, who wonder how the entire method functions. Prior to knowing how intestinal tract purifies might assist you shed weight, it is necessary to keep in mind that there may be a variance. There are some intestines detoxifies that advertise that they may be built to allow you to lose fat. These types of colon detoxifies are also commonly referred to as pounds loss detoxifies. With that in thoughts, there are digestive tract purifies that market that there’re not guaranteed to assist you shed weight, even though several of them may perhaps.

    When employing a intestinal tract purify, it’s important that you simply stick to most of the instructions provided for you. For example, you will find some intestines detoxifies that demand that you simply do not consume nearly anything for one or two nights. These sorts of intestines cleans may be kinds which have been in liquid format. The digestive tract purifies in pill format may perhaps request that you only partake of and drink specified items, like fruits and vegetables. If you invest in a intestines detoxify that asks to you restrict your diet plan, you are recommended to do so. This eating habits restriction is what can make it achievable in your case to lose weight, and also let the colon clean to correctly operate.

    When you use a colon cleanse, you will be essentially detoxifying, your body. The digestive tract purify will function to push toxins out through your intestines and at times even your intestines. This will not be only ideal to promote a balanced wellbeing, however it may also help you lose weight. It has been mentioned that the typical man or women has anyplace from 4 to eight pounds of saved waste materials in their system. When applying a colorectal purify, that added waste materials are going to be expelled out of your body. This is why a lot of individuals are equipped to lose fat having a digestive tract clean.

    When you are ready make use of a quick intestinal tract clean, like one that functions in 3 to seven days or weeks, you may detect a rapid fat burning. You’ll find some men and women who use digestive tract cleans to swiftly slim down before a particular event like a wedding or a holiday. Even though you could possibly achieve rapid excess fat loss accompanied by a colorectal clean, it is crucial that you proceed with caution. When you do not alter the way that you eat or add exercise for a regular actions, it’s possible you’ll see your fat include back again on it as small as a few weeks or even a handful of days to weeks. This usually takes place if you ever have been asked to restrict your diet plan when employing a intestines detoxify. Even though you do not have to maintain up together with your restricted diet plan, you are suggested to decrease your junk food intake and start out a daily or no less than a weekly workout system.

    Given that it’s more than achievable available for you to get rid of pounds using a intestines clean, you may be interested in providing 1 a try. When looking to buy a colorectal purify, you could possibly come across them available for sale in classic department stores, health and fitness stores, and health merchants, each on and offline. Prior to purchasing a digestive tract detox, you will need to search for product or service opinions on the net or speak which has a healthcare specialist. This will help to assure that you if you do obtain a intestines clean that your dollars is properly spent.

    Hope you guys liked my first post. Im in the colon cleans colon cleaning industry. Can you tell? ;-P

  109. The moment I found this was like wow. Thank you for putting your effort in publishing this article.

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