Medical Cannabis: Ayurvedic Herb
In the USA , the fastest growing alternative treatment for pain relief is also the most controversial. It’s medical cannabis (MC), the herb formerly known as marijuana (an antiquated term with an anti-hispanic history).
Even though MC has now been legalized in 29 states (and recreational cannabis in 9), problems and confusion about its use and legality persist. According to the DEA, it is still still illegal federally and classified as Schedule 1 — no medicinal uses. Many patients, and now doctors, disagree.
According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Atlanta neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN,
“We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.
[Marijuana] does not have a high potential for abuse and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.”
Cannabis is now commonly used to treat back pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, seizures and a host of other conditions. Belgium, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Israel, Peru, Canada and portions of the USA are all part of a new wave of support for cannabis therapy.
Yet many myths about cannabis persist from its origins to its uses and legality.Today’s blog will cut through the myths, hype and confusion as we cover the following topics:
What is medical cannabis?
What conditions qualify for the use of medical cannabis?
Cannabis without the smoke
What states allow the use of medical cannabis?
What is Medical Cannabis?
Cannabis a medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years, first in India and China, then in Europe and the USA. It was mentioned in the Vedas, the oldest teachings from India, as a healing Ayurvedic herb, useful for treating ailments like anxiety and insomnia. Ayurveda, the healing branch of yogic science, means “the knowledge of life.”
Medical cannabis consists of the dried flowers of the cannabis plant, or products derived from the plant. Often the herb is not smoked. It is prescribed in creams for arthritis, oils for treating seizures and tinctures for pain and muscle spasms. Tinctures are made by soaking cannabis plant matter in grain alcohol. They can then be administered orally with few drops under the tongue.
Tinctures can also be used transdermally — across the skin. One patient in California shared the story of his grandmother, who lived in rural Mexico. She used homemade tinctures to treat terrible arthritis in both knees. At night she would dip two pieces of cloth into a clay pot filled with a mixture of cannabis and alcohol and wrap up each knee. Wrapping the knees with the herb-soaked cloth soothed the pain and inflammation. By the next morning, she was able to walk and do her farm chores.
What conditions qualify for the use of medical cannabis?
In 1996, Californians passed the “Compassionate Care Act,” legalizing cannabis for those with “cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which cannabis provides relief.” 28 other states have similar provisions.
Cannabis is most often prescribed for pain relief, anxiety/depression and insomnia. Cancer patients find relief from the nausea of chemotherapy.
Cannabis creams are available for arthritis and body aches. Physicians recommend tinctures, edibles and vaporized cannabis for insomnia and chronic pain.
Other conditions that benefit include seizures, IBS, Crohn’s disease, migraines, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia and PTSD. A new field of cannabis therapy is evolving.
Sativex: Cannabis Spray — From Bayer Pharma
The makers of Bayer aspirin are marketing cannabis in Canada and Europe as Sativex, a sublingual cannabis spray for usage twice a day. Originally approved to treat the muscle spasms of MS (Multiple Sclerosis), Sativex is also useful for insomnia and anxiety. Note: It is currently not available in the USA.
Know Your State
Caution: Cannabis is still completely illegal in 21 states, including much of the Southeast and Midwest. Some states have only legalized CBD oil for children with epilepsy. States like Idaho have penalties that are severe.
CLICK HERE to find out the laws in your state.
Rx for the Opioid Crisis
Today many patients in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington use cannabis to reduce or eliminate their dependency on narcotic pain killers. Vaporization of MC can give immediate pain relief without the side effects of opiates — without causing nausea, constipation and physical addiction. In addition, cannabis overdose is not fatal.
Sativa or Indica?
The Latin name cannabis refers to the two main strains, cannabis indica and cannabis sativa, first cousins that have remarkably different effects — think DayQuil and NyQuil. For example, the indica strains, commonly used for sleep and for pain management, can be quite sedating. They are the NyQuil of the MC world.
The sativas are stimulating, making them more suitable for daytime use and useful for the treatment of depression
Medical vs Recreational
Cannabis was originally used for its medical benefits. Because of the associated euphoria, its recreational use has been spreading.
The main differences today are intent and THC content. Medical cannabis often has less THC, so when you’re taking it, you don’t feel the high that’s associated with its recreational counterpart.
The cannabis plant is comprised of over 100 chemicals, known as cannabinoids, with each of these having different effects on the body. Two of the main ingredients in cannabis are: Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC and the Cannabidiols, or CBDs.
CBDs are natural healing chemicals that do not produce the THC-like euphoria. They are used to treat physical problems like pain, muscle spasms, intestinal cramps and more.
Not Side Effect Free
Cannabis has a number of well-known side effects, from appetite stimulation to memory loss and impaired thinking.
Minor side effects are common, like blurred vision, dry mouth and slow urination. Serious side effects are rare, but include a schizophrenia-like psychosis.
Some side effects are beneficial. Boosting the appetite is good for cancer patients. Memory loss can be a boon for those with PTSD.
Next week IN PART 2 of this blog we’ll examine how cannabis oil is used in the treatment of seizure disorders: “Charlottes Web: Cannabis Without the High.”
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