Experts on the subject of the use of cannabis to treat various conditions and diseases say research is taking place continually, and has advanced partly because of its legal use.
Dr. David Bearman, vice president of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, said research includes using cannabis to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, attention deficient disorder, cancer, multiple sclerosis, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and seizures.
“The stigma of cannabis is lessening,” Bearman said. “We are seeing more research recently, ever since states have begun to approve cannabis both for medical and recreational use. But we always need more research.”
Bearman said what’s particularly interesting to him is that the use of cannabis in treating children with diseases is becoming more acceptable.
“Only recently have we felt comfortable using it in treating children,” he said. “Why not? Why would we want children to have to endure seizures, when they can be controlled or lessened by the use of cannabinoids?”
Use of cannabis in treating cancers has been accepted by some doctors for years, he said. It’s well-known that cannabis lessens pain and nausea, and can increase appetite in cancer patients.
Recent research by GW Pharmaceuticals in England on blastoma, a cancer where a tumor is thought to arise in embryonic tissue, showed great results.
“With the use of 25 milligrams of THC and 25 milligrams CBD three times a day, cancer patients saw their lives extended by 45 percent,” Bearman said. “We’ve known cannabis helps with breast cancer for years, and now we are seeing it used to treat patients with all kinds of cancers.”
Current research throughout the U.S. has shown a cannabis-related decrease of 50 percent in childhood seizures, he said.
“We’ve known since 1947 that cannabinoids work on seizures,” Bearman said. “The first study back then showed five of seven patients had a reduction in the number of seizures when using cannabinoids.”
Research has expanded to include such things as PTSD and ADD, and results are promising. He said research shows that patients throughout the autism spectrum also benefit by the use of cannabis.
“As we know, endocannabinoids are naturally produced within the body and play a major role in overall health,” he said. “We’ve found that those with low endocannabinoids can benefit by the use of medical marijuana.”
Bearman said those with fewer endocannabinoids have fewer retrograde inhibitors and their near impulses move faster.
“That explains their behavior, the acting out with panic, or behaviors that can be disturbing,” Bearman said. “This can include anger because [in] someone with PTSD, trauma is saved in their brain and their body produces more dopamine, causing the nerve impulses.”
By adding cannabinoids through the use of various forms of cannabis, behaviors can be improved, he said. The key is to work with a professional who can help with dosages and make sure the patient is comfortable with what they are doing.
Research also is continuing for persons with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
“There are some very favorable results in those areas,” he said. “Cannabis is not a cure, but helps patients deal with symptoms.”
The use of cannabis to treat migraines and irritable bowel syndrome also is advancing.