Is Medical Marijuana, the new remedy for Inflammatory Diseases
Inflammation, a natural healing process that too often goes wrong
-Dr. W. Rivers
Inflammation is the process by which our body protects itself from bacterial and viral attacks by producing white blood cells (WBCs). It is a biological response to cellular damage caused due to infections like a toothache, ankle twisting, cuts due to shaving, etc. There are four main signs of inflammation- swelling, redness, pain, and warmth. Joint pain, redness, joint stiffness, swollen joints, loss of joint function, chills, fever, headaches, loss of energy or fatigue, muscle stiffness, loss of appetite are some of the other signs and symptoms.
Inflammation is a part of the autoimmune system of the human body since it is a reaction to illness or injury. Some inflammatory diseases like arthritis need medicines to boost the damaged autoimmune system to relieve pain. Other diseases that cause inflammation are Bronchitis — bronchial inflammation, Cystitis — bladder inflammation, Dermatitis — skin inflammation, Otitis media – infection of the middle ear.
Persistence of inflammation for an extended period of time may eventually lead to a number of serious diseases and conditions, including Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease and some types of cancer.
There are many lines of treatment for inflammatory conditions including surgery, medications, exercise, and diet.
Medical marijuana has been recently accepted as another line of treatment for certain chronic inflammatory diseases. It contains cannabinoids including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that has been found to be effective at both, reducing chronic inflammation and at curtailing the pain associated with inflammatory-related diseases.
Cannabis sativa has been known to be used for medicinal purposes for over 6,000 years. Since ancient ages, physicians have been relying on cannabidiol for its efficacy in treating patients of inflammatory diseases. Research has suggested that CBD, the most abundant non-intoxicating constituent of the Cannabis plant, exerts anti-inflammatory effects in various disease models and alleviates pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis in humans. Doctors have found that CBD does not work like typical pain medicine by affecting the central nervous system, rather, it works at the neuro-synapse. Experts have explained that chronic inflammation is caused by abnormal behavior in the immune system and can lead to tissue, joint, and organ damage. Marijuana appears to acts as a powerful drug at reducing chronic inflammation associated with a variety of diseases.
Dr. M. Rajesh explains, “Our results suggest that CBD, which has recently been approved for the treatment of inflammation, pain, and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis in humans, may have significant therapeutic benefits against diabetic complications and atherosclerosis.”
Benefits of Medical Marijuana
If conventional pharmacological solutions are ineffective in reducing pain, turning toward medical marijuana may help treat symptoms. Injection of THC and CBD work by reducing signals that control immune and inflammatory response by modulating brain and body receptors.
The emphasis now is on evolving attitudes to explore how cannabis can be used to treat and reduce the severity of symptoms associated with inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis, the chronic inflammatory disease and a major risk factor of heart attacks and strokes, and at reducing airway inflammation related to the flu virus. Cannabinoids have demonstrated success at reducing atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries and is linked to heart attacks and strokes.
- Katz, a pioneering Israeli researcher said,
“Nowadays, cannabis is mostly known for its psychotropic effects and its ability to relieve pain, even though there is evidence of cannabis use for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis centuries ago. The pharmacological therapy in autoimmune diseases is mainly based on immunosuppression of different axes of the immune system while many of the drugs have major side effects. “
Another study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found that medical cannabis can be used to decrease the intensity of pain associated with arthritis and improve sleep. It also offers a new therapeutic strategy to treat inflammatory bowel diseases as well.
In particular, medical marijuana works wonders to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. It lessens the tremors in Parkinson’s disease and is also administered to patients of fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain. Marijuana is also used to manage nausea and weight loss and can be used to treat glaucoma. A promising area of research includes its use for PTSD in war veterans, apart from its usefulness in treating patients with wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
Cannabis has become a big focus for the medical community for its usefulness in alleviating chronic pain. Further research is needed as more patients are starting to use marijuana as a medicine. Patients should consult their doctors before adding cannabis to their healthcare routine.
About: Sharda Hospital is one of the largest super specialty hospitals in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).