Therapeutic Potential of Medical Cannabis
Cannabinoids have demonstrated therapeutic effects in a broad range of conditions due to the widespread distribution of cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a regulator of physiologic homeostasis and there is interest in targeting the ECS with pharmacotherapy. The body has endogenous (endo: naturally occurring within in the body) cannabinoids that exert their effect on the ECS. In addition, exogenous (exo: outside the body) cannabinoids, such as CBD and medical cannabis, can be ingested to exert an additional effect on the ECS.
Modulating the activity of the ECS has proven effective in human studies on mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders, neuropathic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, insomnia, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis. The majority of human research has focused on spasticity, nausea and vomiting, anorexia, and chronic pain. Some conditions, such as migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, which may be treated with cannabinoid administration.
A 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective:
- For the treatment of chronic pain in adults
- As anti-emetics in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- For improving patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms
The report also found moderate evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids can be effective for: improving short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with sleep disturbance associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis.
There is limited, but increased research, in clinical data demonstrating that cannabinoids are safe and effective in the treatment of seizure disorders, Tourette syndrome, and multiple geriatric conditions and to reduce their pill burden.
There are also clinical studies that demonstrate improvements in anxiety, depression, and neurocognition when medical cannabis is used.
Talk to your Doctor!
If you live in a place with a medical cannabis program please have an honest conversation with your Physician to see if medical cannabis is a good fit for you. If you live in Missouri and you don’t have a Primary Care Physician, you can come see my wife, Dr. Strong in St. Louis. Dr. Strong will be providing Medical Marijuana Physician Certificates starting in June 2019.