If the link is proved, it could lead to the development of treatments based on the active ingredient of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), without its intoxicating effects.
Researchers have found that regular users of the drug had lower levels of the hormone insulin after fasting – a signal that they are protected against diabetes. They also had reduced insulin resistance. Cannabis is widely smoked in the United States with over 17 million current users of whom more than four million smoke it on a daily basis. In the UK latest figures show 2.3 million people used cannabis in the last year, but the numbers have declined in the last decade.
Two US states have recently legalised its recreational use and 19 others have legalised it for medical purposes by patients with one of several conditions including multiple sclerosis and cancer. THC has already been approved to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, nausea in cancer patients, anorexia associated with AIDS and other conditions.
The study involved almost 5,000 patients who answered a questionnaire about their drug use and were part of the National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2005 and 2010. The results showed almost 2,000 had used cannabis at some point in their lives and more than one in 10 (579) were current users. Only those who had used cannabis within the past month showed evidence of protection against diabetes, suggesting that the effects wear off in time. Current users of the drug had 16 per cent lower fasting insulin than those who had never used the drug.
Murray Mittleman, of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, and lead author of the study published in The American Journal of Medicine, said previous studies had shown lower rates of obesity and diabetes in marijuana users.
Two previous surveys had also shown that although cannabis users consume more calories they have a lower body mass index. The mechanisms underlying this paradox are unknown, the authors say. Joseph Alpert, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, and editor in chief of the journal, said: “These are remarkable observations that are supported by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions.
“We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short and long term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer diabetes and frailty of the elderly.”
Almost one in 20 adults in the UK has diabetes, of which 2.6 million are diagnosed and 500,000 are undiagnosed. Rates are rising in this country and around the world, driven by Western lifestyles, and the number of cases is expected to exceed 4 million in the UK by 2025. The illness increases the risk of heart failure, kidney failure, and death – and is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK.
By Jeremy Laurance
A study just recently published has shown that low-dose, vaporized cannabis products, are effective in treating neuropathic pain. This is significant for a large number of people who suffer this condition. I suppose I should start with, what is neuropathic pain?
Some conditions, diabetes and HIV amongst them, cause a kind of phantom pain in the body because of specific damage being done to the nervous system. To break it down to layman terms without spewing a whole lot of Latin phrases used in medicine, your nerves are like wires in an electrical circuit. There are signals travelling along those wires that tell our muscles what to do, how our organs function, all those important things. When the nerves get damaged by disease, they act like frayed wires, sending false signals. A very severe form of this is Multiple Sclerosis where the patient slowly loses control of muscle function and experiences pain and spasms all over their body.
Traditionally the treatment for neuropathic pain was opioid drugs. As one would expect, the dose required with a drug like Demerol to control the pain is often well into the psychoactive dose and the patient is rendered more or less inert. Take enough opiates and you’ll know what I mean, you get numb, slow and kind of spacey. If you wanted to say, do a job or bathe every day, this isn’t good. Long-term exposure to this kind of therapy eventually leads to apathy and emotional depression. I’ve been there; it isn’t a good place to be.
A recent study, a synopsis of which is linked at the bottom of this article, shows that vaporized cannabis can control neuropathic pain in doses low enough that the psychoactive element of cannabis use is minimized. This means no pain, and no stoned either. For people who want a medication that controls their pain, but doesn’t rule their life, this is a veritable miracle.
It’s easy for cannabis smokers who use recreationally to miss the importance of this. Cannabis can get you really high, but it can also make you feel better without getting you high. From a medical perspective this is unheard of. Neuropathic pain is notoriously stubborn pain to treat, and often requires disabling doses of opioid drugs to control. For those living in the prison of Morphine treatment and constant pain, this is a jailbreak of kinds and is well worth celebration.
When allowed the opportunity to do so, medical science proves again and again that cannabis is one of the most versatile and useful plants we have ever discovered. While there are groups trying to make new types of painkillers out of spider poison and other strange sources, cannabis waits in the wings to replace many needlessly contrived treatments and drugs which are notoriously expensive and complicated to produce.
Part of the conflict here is going to be with drug makers. They make a fortune using patented processes and exclusive equipment and facilities to make drugs. When you can just grow what you need in a planter box on the balcony, it could put a lot of people out of work and disappoint a whole bunch of investors. I for one say too bad for all of them. There used to be a lot of people employed building railroad tracks, but that business is waning these days. Those people found other jobs, and all the people making codeine pills and morphine patches may just have to do the same someday in the future.
Called by one media critic, “Genius”. Produced by famous smuggler, author/activist Robert Platshorn and the award winning film maker Walter J. Collins. This made for TV version of Roberts Silver Tour stuns viewers with medical and legal facts long kept from the public. Robert’s tour teaching seniors the benefits of medical marijuana have drawn world wide praise for all branches of the media. Front page in the Wall St Journal, featured on CNN Money, praised by News Week‘s Daily Beast and coming soon to The Daily Show!
Hundreds of marijuana enthusiasts huddled near Seattle’s famed Space Needle tower last night with pipes, bongs and hand-rolled joints to celebrate Washington’s new status as the first US state to legalise the drug for adult recreational use.
The public gathering at the downtown Seattle, like a smaller turnout at a nearby spot hours earlier, defied a key provision of the state’s landmark marijuana law, which allows possession of small amounts of cannabis but forbids users from lighting up outside the privacy of their homes.
Police kept their distance from both gatherings, underscoring mixed law enforcement messages about the new statute, known by its ballot designation as Initiative 502. The measure took effect yesterday.
Seattle’s city attorney issued a stern warning that public marijuana puffing would not be tolerated and that violators faced citations with $100 fines.
But the Seattle police department said its officers had been directed to limit any enforcement actions related to Initiative 502 to verbal warnings only, at least for now.
The new law, passed by voters last month in a move that could set the state up for a showdown with the federal government, removes criminal sanctions for anyone 21 or older possessing 1 ounce (28.5 grams) or less of pot for personal use.
Colorado voters likewise chose to legalise marijuana for personal recreational use, but that measure is not due to take effect until next month. Both states are among 18 that have already removed criminal sanctions for medical use of marijuana.
The Washington law also legalizes possession of up to 16 ounces of solid cannabis-infused goods – such as brownies – and up to 72 ounces of weed in liquid form.
But driving under the influence of cannabis or imbibing in public places where the consumption of alcohol is already banned remain illegal.
The new law ultimately will permit cannabis to be legally sold and taxed at state-licensed stores in a system to be modeled after those in many states for alcohol sales. The state Liquor Control Board, along with agriculture and public health officials, have until next December to set up such a system.
For now, it remains a crime to sell, cultivate or even share one’s own stash, even though the law allows individuals to purchase a limited amount for personal possession.
Ironically, the first known court challenge of the law came from a medical marijuana patient in Olympia, who filed suit last week seeking to block enforcement of a new standard for marijuana impairment while driving, similar to the blood-alcohol standard for drunken driving.
The plaintiff, Arthur West, says the new legal limit – five nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC, pot’s active ingredient – would unfairly subject him to prosecution for a THC level at which he routinely drives without impairment. A hearing on his request for an injunction was set for today.
Little if any of the law’s fine points seemed to matter to the mellow group of about 300 people – from college-age tokers to middle-aged Baby Boomers – who assembled at the Seattle centre fountain, a short distance from the Space Needle.
Convivial laughter, laid-back conversation and occasional coughing filled the air as the pungent smell of marijuana wafted through the crowd, many wearing sweatshirt hoodies to ward off the chill, on a cold, crisp evening.
Convivial laughter, laid-back conversation and occasional coughing
Rumour has it that marijuana has some pretty interesting effects on the human brain, but how could plant smoke affect our physiology? Well, it’s all to do with a case of mistaken identity. Logan Wright goes in search of cells that get duped by dope into having a high old time.
Known variously as marijuana, ganja, cannabis, pot, jays, joints and Mary Jane, the product derived from the cannabis plant is undoubtedly the most popular illicit recreational drug in the world; hence its countless pet names. It can be taken in a variety of creative ways including smoking, eating and drinking, even has incarnations in gum or brownies form.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol if you prefer, is a compound within the cannabis plant that, like nicotine or caffeine, may have evolved to ward off herbivores. Its strong psychoactive properties, however, have proven rather seductive to the international drugs scene.
The parts of the brain most affected by marijuana. Click to enlarge.
Once it reaches the bloodstream, THC takes only a few seconds to reach the brain, where it passes itself off as a neurotransmitter – the chemicals which carry messages between neurons in the brain. THC is shaped much like a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which means it can sneak itself into the brain’s anandamide receptor proteins and start to cause mischief. With THC’s spanner in the works, some of the brain’s normal functions really begin to waver.
The receptor proteins are located primarily in three areas of the brain: the hippocampus, responsible for short term memory; the cerebellum, an area controlling coordination; and the basal ganglia, which manages unconscious muscle movement. These are the functions that are altered by THC’s presence, which is why a marijuana user will typically experience impaired coordination, memory lapses, paranoia and altered perception, as well as feeling their heart quicken.
THC’s chemical structure. Click to enlarge. Why don’t you download the structure, draw a picture and enter it to the THC gallery?
One thing scientists do not thoroughly understand is how THC interacts with dopamine, the chemical that is well known for generating feelings of pleasure and motivation. It’s thought that when THC activates receptor proteins a signal is sent to nearby dopamine terminals in the brain. These then begin to produce inordinate amounts of dopamine, triggering that contented feeling known to so many politicians.
The health effects of marijuana are hotly contested. There is good evidence that it is effective a treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and is used by many people as a treatment for a variety of ills and aches.
However, although it’s generally accepted to be safer than heroine or cocaine, marijuana may have several potential long term effects, which are less helpful. The drug has been linked to an increased incidence of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. It is also referred to as a “gateway drug” because many marijuana users move from it to more dangerous drugs in search of a more powerful experiencer. For those particularly enamored with the drug’s effects, however, there is consolation: some believe that marijuana use may lead to an eventual perma-high.
Archaeologists have reported that marijuana was one of the first plants cultivated by humans. It was being used 10,000 years ago for linen, paper, and garments. In China and India, it was being smoked as early as 2700 BC.
The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus mentions that Scythian tribes used to pile cannabis leaves on to bonfires during wild festivals.
George Washington, the first US president, grew cannabis, declaring “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”
In Vietnam, where cannabis grows wild and free, people rarely smoke it themselves. Instead they feed it to their pigs, who get the serious munchies. The result is that the farmers produce some very fat, and very chilled out, pigs.
via How Marijuana Works.
Medbox (MDBX), a firm that makes medical marijuana dispensing machines, says its stock “is getting way too high.” Shares spiked 3,000% this week (from about $4 Monday to $215 Thursday), “prompting executives to try and dampen investor enthusiasm.” The surge was caused by a MarketWatch story about how to invest in legalized marijuana.
Minister of State for Health Alex White to Introduce Proposals Next Year to Legalise Cannabis Based Medicine.
In a written Dáil response issued to Mr Flanagan, Minister of State for Health Alex White said he hoped to bring legislative proposals early next year to make cannabis-based medicinal products available on prescription.
Mr Flanagan said, “This should not be taking as long as it is. The Government should hurry up on this as there are people going through hell out there being not able to get the proper pain relief.”
Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan, has campaigned for many years for medicinal cannabis to be available on prescription for cancer and multiple sclerosis sufferers, and others suffering from ill-health,