Preventing Alzheimer's with Marijuana

A paper published by the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that the chemical compounds in marijuana likely prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and age-related dementia.

Chronic brain inflammation, oxidative stress, and intra-cellular dysfunction are the primary reasons why people develop these debilitating neurological diseases. The study found that both THC and CBD (the primary chemical compounds found in marijuana) positively affect nerve cell function in consumers, significantly reducing these harmful neurological conditions.

THC and CBD (called cannabinoids) tap into a primal, chemical signaling system in cells called “the endocannabinoid system.” The paper shows cannabinoids dampen inflammation, protect cells from oxidative damage, and promote cell health on a number of levels.

This paper echoes claims made in January by Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology, and medical genetics at Ohio State University, that “if you do anything, such as smoke a bunch of marijuana in your 20s and 30s, you may wipe out all of the inflammation in your brain and then things start over again. And you simply die of old age before inflammation becomes an issue for you,”

The implications of marijuana’s medicinal effects on our brains are monumental, from not just a health perspective, but a financial one as well, for more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s. One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, costing the country about $203 billion in 2013.

via: The Marijuana Policy Project

Medicinal Marijuana vs Sleep Disorders

Even though everyone experiences his or her own unique dreams, the sleep cycle is the same process for everyone. The brain rotates through each of the four stages of the sleep cycle multiple times every night. Marijuana has minimal impact on the first two stages of sleep, but has dramatic impact on the third and fourth stages of sleep. Stage 3 is known as slow-wave sleep. The fourth stage is rapid eye movement (REM), which is the most active period for the brain during sleep and when people dream. 

Since marijuana has been shown to help people who suffer from insomnia and sleep apnea, the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2013 awarded a researcher named Dr. David W. Carley a $5 million grant to further study how medical marijuana treats sleeping disorder. Interestingly, Carley serves on the board for Cortex Pharmaceuticals, which markets sleep apnea treatments. It is becoming clear that even big pharma companies are starting to take medical marijuana seriously.

Even research dating as far back as 1973 has shown that marijuana helps induce sleep. It's actually possible, however, for too large of a dose to be less effective if the effects of intoxication overshadow the desire to sleep. On the other hand, higher dosage can ultimately lead to longer sleep. With the proper dosage of THC, it's possible to reduce sleep interruptions and increase sleep time.
Research on medical marijuana was largely discontinued in the 1980s and 1990s but has accelerated in the new century. A 2010 study on synthetic THC found that the chemical was more effective at improving sleep quality that the antidepressant amitriptyline. Cannabis accelerates the time it takes people to go to sleep and extends stage 3 of the sleep cycle, while reducing the final REM stage. Stage 3 is when sleep disorders can have the most difficulty, yet cannabis appears to be a viable solution.

Sleeping pills can be effective, but they can also be fatal if taken incorrectly. Mixing alcohol with sleeping kills can be deadly, whereas cannabis does not present such dangers. While it's possible to build up a tolerance to medical marijuana, this isn't the same problem as building a tolerance for sleeping pills, leading to heavier dosage. High doses of sleeping pills can interfere with breathing during sleep, leading to death. Conventional sleeping pills require careful self-regulation, whereas overuse of cannabis usually results in better sleep. 

One of the problematic side effects of sleeping pills is that it can lead to drowsiness that extends into your workday. Another problem with sleeping pills is that overuse can lead to erratic or strange behavior. Yet medicinal marijuana treats sleeping disorder without such annoying side effects and has even shown to produce results that are more favorable.

Finally, one more problem with sleeping pills popped up in a 2012 study published by BMJ Open. The study found that people who used prescription sleeping pills were more likely to get cancer than those who did not. Cannabis, on the other hand, has been shown to reverse cancer in some patients.

via: Medicinal Marijuana Association

A Few Good Reasons to Grow Your Own MMJ

While there are endless perks to having access to a local dispensary, many people around the world don’t have that convenient option when it comes to obtaining cannabis. Whether you’re looking to save some money or interested in taking your healing into your own hands, these five reasons will help you understand why it pays to grow a personal crop of green.


A typical plant will net about an ounce after curing. A standard 1000-watt metal halide lamp will easily bring six plants to maturity in eight to 10 weeks. Smoking 6 ounces in two months is a good pace that will keep even the most hardcore stoner happy. Compared to how much those 6 ounces would cost if they were purchased on the street — the difference in price is astounding.

Strains & Flavors

While dispensaries or personal friends may only have access to a few dozen strains, there are hundreds of different strains of marijuana to choose from with their own attributes and flavors. One of the hardest decisions a grower has to decide upon is which with one strain per plant in a crop of many plants.


Most growers keep the fact that they grow under tight-lipped security for understandable reasons, but once a crop is harvested and cured, knowing this new skill will bring other growers out of the woodwork. A new grower to talk shop with is always welcome and you’ll soon find that having other cultivators to swap tips with will be helpful.

Sharing with Friends

As the saying goes: birds of a feather flock together. Sharing even a small amount of the costly green with friends will be much appreciated and likely earn you a superlative title amongst your cronies. Most people know how much they smoke on any given day. If there are more buds than what will be consumed by harvest time of the next crop, think of sharing with friends.


As soon as a successful crop is harvested and cured, chances are there’ll be a pretty good feeling about the new crop and for good reason. Taking on a two-month project is a real investment in time and effort. The rewards, though, are worth it. Once you master the skill of growing premium, high-quality cannabis, you’ll be able to show off your hard work and possibly even make some money off of it by selling it to dispensaries.

via: Cannabis Now

Medicinal Marijuana and Anxiety

Anxiety has become an epidemic throughout the world as the global financial crisis, rising food prices and stagnant wages all threaten people's livelihood. There are certainly many other causes of anxiety that can be traced to personal experiences and lifestyle. Part of the solution is that individuals need to free themselves of toxic environments and get closer to nature. Cannabis that contains certain medicinal compounds satisfies this solution and provides benefits beyond the placebo effect. 

The reason cannabis helps diminish anxiety is that its active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol THC, unlocks the pleasure centers of the brain. Scientific proof that medical marijuana treats anxiety began in the early sixties with research from Israeli chemistry professor Raphael Mechoulam, who discovered THC in 1964. Then in 1992 Czech chemist Lumir Ondrej Hanus discovered anandamide in the brain in 1992. These two important findings led to the revelation that the brain houses CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which are responsible for relieving anxiety. In other words, the brain already has built-in pleasure receptors and THC activates them. 

It's important to remember, however, that each individual has his or her own unique reaction to cannabis, whether it is smoked, eaten, drank or inhaled with a vaporizer. On top of that, there are many different strains of cannabis that each have different effects on the mind. Some strains of cannabis can even increase anxiety, which is why it is important for patients to research the various cannabis strains to find the best one to treat their condition.

Hanus was one of the first bold doctors in the modern world to state that "cannabis is one of the safest drugs known." His reasoning was that cannabis users cannot overdone on the plant. The key to the fact that medical marijuana treats anxiety hinges on strains that contain both the compounds THC and cannabidiol (CBD).  While THC can sometimes provoke anxiety, CBD blocks anxiety. Most street pot does not contain CBD and only has a small percentage of THC. That's why medical marijuana containing CBD is essential to treating anxiety.

At its most effective, cannabis can relax a patient and make them forget their personal problems. It often creates a calm, carefree and humorous feeling within foggy layers of a euphoric dream state. The popular stereotype that cannabis makes people forgetful is accurate, which also plays into forgetting problems.

Historically, pot has been portrayed in movies such as those made by Cheech and Chong as a party drug that produces recreational scenarios. There is plenty of truth to the fact that many users find cannabis to be a fun, pleasant and entertaining experience, which alone can reduce anxiety. The combination of ingesting cannabis with entertainment such as listening to music or engaging in comedy may be the best possible way to reduce stress.

Read More: The Medical Marijuana Association 

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More Marijuana Less Domestic Violence

Husbands and wives who frequently smoke cannabis are less likely to engage in domestic violence than those who consume the drug less regularly, a new study has suggested.

Researchers from Yale University, University of Buffalo and Rutgers followed 634 married couples for nine years.
They found that when couples used cannabis three times or more each month reported the lowest number domestic violence incidents (intimate partner violence) over the first nine years of marriage.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) was defined by the researchers as acts of physical aggressions, including hitting, beating and chocking.

The couples completed regular questionnaires throughout the study on how often they used the drug and other substances, such as alcohol.

They were also asked to report violence from their spouse within the last year, and any violent acts that had occurred during the year before marriage.

The study concluded that the more often both spouses smoked cannabis, the less likely they were to engage in domestic violence.

Lead researcher Kenneth Leonard, director of the UB Research Institute on Addictions, said the findings suggest cannabis use is predictive of lower levels of aggression towards a person's partner, but only over the course of a year.

“As in other survey studies of marijuana and partner violence, our study examines patterns of marijuana use and the occurrence of violence within a year period," he said. "It does not examine whether using marijuana on a given day reduces the likelihood of violence at that time.”

Mr Leonard noted other factors could be responsible for the link between husbands and wives who use cannabis and lower rates of domestic violence.

“It is possible, for example, that — similar to a drinking partnership — couples who use marijuana together may share similar values and social circles,” said Mr Leonard, “and it is this similarity that is responsible for reducing the likelihood of conflict.”

The authors suggested chronic cannabis users exhibit "blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli" which could also reduce the likelihood of aggressive behaviour.

Mr Leonard is now hoping for further research examining day-to-day cannabis and alcohol use and the likelihood of domestic violence occurring on the same day before drawing stronger conclusions.

The study was published in the online edition of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors in August.

via: The Independent

92 Percent of MMJ Patients Say It Works for their Symptoms

A 2013 survey in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly 8-in-10 doctors approved the use of medical marijuana. Now, a wide-ranging survey in California finds that medical marijuana patients agree: 92 percent said that medical marijuana alleviated symptoms of their serious medical conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraine, and cancer.

The data come from the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a representative health survey of 7,525 California adults produced by the Public Health Institute in partnership with the CDC. Researchers found that in total, five percent of California adults said they had used medical marijuana for a "serious medical condition."

"Our study’s results lend support to the idea that medical marijuana is used equally by many groups of people and is not exclusively used by any one specific group," the authors write. There were similar usage rates among both men and women. Adults of all ages reported medical marijuana use, although young adults were the most likely to use it.

There were some small differences in medical marijuana use across members of different races, although the authors stress that "the absolute difference in prevalence between the racial/ethnic groups is less than three percentage points, which may not have much importance in practical terms."

Despite being used in 23 states, medical marijuana still faces a considerable amount of skepticism. In an interview last year former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg called it "one of the great hoaxes of all time." California narcotics police lobbyist John Lovell said earlier this year that "California’s medical marijuana law is a giant con job.”

This study refutes these notions. "Our study contradicts commonly held beliefs that medical marijuana is being overused by healthy individuals," the authors write. "The most common reasons for use include medical conditions for which mainstream treatments may not exist, such as for migraines, or may not be effective, including for chronic pain and cancer."

In considering the efficacy of any kind of medical treatment, we should listen first and foremost to the patients. The debate over medical marijuana has largely been dominated by vested interests and advocacy groups on either side - patients' voices have been either silent or ignored completely.

This study provides a helpful corrective, and in this case the patients are speaking loud and clear in near-unanimity: medical marijuana works.

More at: The Washington Post

Cannabinoids and Radiotherapy vs Aggressive Brain Tumors

The current mortality rate for people who have gliomas, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, is 6-12 months. Conventional treatments are at best palliative and offer little hope in the area of a cure. Can marijuana help?

Researchers from St. George’s, University of London, have discovered that cannabinoids along with radiotherapy shrink brain tumors.

The results were published in the 2014 November issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

Scientists first tested the effects of cannabinoids, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) on cultured glioma cells and later administered radiation. They found that both cannabinoids killed cancer cells in a dose-dependent fashion, with higher doses showing a greater benefit.

Also, the cannabinoids were found to make the glioma cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation.

In the second part of the experiment, mice with brain cancer were either given no treatment, cannabinoids, radiation or a combination of radiation and cannabinoids. The mice receiving the cannabinoids and radiation obtained the best results.

According to the scientists involved in the study, there was a “drastic reduction” in tumor size, with some tumors disappearing altogether.

The London researchers want to conduct a similar study on humans. 

Until the legal situation of marijuana is sorted out, we won’t know the true extent of its health benefits. Current legislation makes it difficult for research studies to be conducted, and in many states it is currently illegal to use medical marijuana as a treatment.

Despite all of these setbacks, the research shows a promising picture. There are many studies showing the anti-cancer properties of marijuana. So far preclinical studies show cannabis may help to target cancers of the lung, thyroid, skin, uterus, breast, prostate, and pancreas.

Marijuana seems to be a promising anti-cancer agent due to its ability to target cancer in several ways. It targets angiogenesis, a process in which tumors gain circulation through blood vessel growth.

Marijuana also prevents metastasis (the spread of cancer cells), and it induces apoptosis, a process in which cancer cells “commit suicide”.

Finally, marijuana has been shown to alleviate the pain, nausea, and appetite issues encountered during cancer treatments, making it a versatile therapy.

Marijuana may be Even Safer than Previously Thought

Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.

And all the way at the bottom of the list? Weed — roughly 114 times less deadly than booze, according to the authors, who ran calculations that compared lethal doses of a given substance with the amount that a typical person uses. Marijuana is also the only drug studied that posed a low mortality risk to its users.

These findings reinforce drug-safety rankings developed 10 years ago under a slightly different methodology. So in that respect, the study is more of a reaffirmation of previous findings than anything else. But given the current national and international debates over the legal status of marijuana and the risks associated with its use, the study arrives at a good time.

It’s important to note here that “safer than alcohol” doesn’t mean “safe, full stop.” Indeed, one of the more troubling lines of thought I see in some quarters of the marijuana legalization movement is that because marijuana is “natural,” or because it can be used as (non-FDA approved) “medicine,” it is therefore “safe.”

But of course, rattlesnake venom is natural, too, and nobody would call that safe. And prescription painkillers are medicinal and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year.

There are any number of risks associated with marijuana use. Most of these risks involve mental health issues, and most increase the earlier you start using and the more frequently you use.

That said, there are risks associated with literally anything you put in your body. Eat too much sugar and you’re on the fast track to rotting teeth and diabetes. Take in too much salt and you’re looking at increased odds of a stroke. Psychoactive substances, such as marijuana and alcohol, aren’t at all unique for having risks associated with them.

What is unique is how these substances are treated under the law, and particularly the way in which alcohol and nicotine essentially get a free pass under the Controlled Substances Act, the cornerstone of the nation’s drug policy.

This study’s authors note that legislative classifications of psychoactive drugs often “lack a scientific basis,” and their findings are confirmation of this fact.

Given the relative risks associated with marijuana and alcohol, the authors recommend “risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs.” And they say that when it comes to marijuana, the low amounts of risk associated with the drug “suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach.”

In other words, individuals and organizations up in arms over marijuana legalization could have a greater effect on the health and well-being of this country by shifting their attention to alcohol and cigarettes. It takes extraordinary chutzpah to rail against the dangers of marijuana use by day and then go home to unwind with a glass of far more lethal stuff in the evening.

via: The Cannabist

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