Will Marijuana be the future of Medicine?

By DANIEL VELASCO

If you’ve been to any smoke shop, vitamin store or mall lately, chances are you’ve come across CBD oil. 

Often packaged in old-fashioned, red-tinted medicine bottles reminiscent of 19th Century medicine, CBD oil comes in many different brand names and with different claims. 

CBD, or “cannibidiol” oil, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds extracted from, found in, or made within marijuana.

Recently, cannabinoids have received a lot of criticism due to the advent of K2 and Spice. 

However as new cannabinoids are being tested daily, these substances are not reflective of the potential surrounding these chemicals.

In fact, cannabinoids have yielded plentiful pharmaceutical value. In a study conducted by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, it was found that cannabinoids have therapeutic value to “numerous diseases, such as anorexia, emesis, pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease), epilepsy, glaucoma, osteoporosis, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, obesity and metabolic syndrome-related disorders.”

Often, CBD gets a bad wrap for being associated with marijuana. Many people either assume taking CBD is just another way to get high. However, the big difference between CBD and marijuana is THC or “tetrahydrocannabinol.” 

THC is the chemical compound responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana. 

When marijuana is smoked, THC enters the bloodstream through the lungs and quickly makes its way toward the brain. Once THC enters the brain, it binds to brain receptors responsible for controlling time perception, memory, coordination, pleasure, thinking, concentration and movement. Because THC is so similar to another naturally occuring chemical compound known as anandamide, the brain confuses THC for this chemical and thus sends this chemical throughout the nervous system, making you high. 

The big difference beween CBD and marijuana is that CBD does not contain THC. Because of this, CBD offers a completely different set of non-psychoactive effects than marijuana.

In regards to the potential for both dependence and abuse of CBD, studies done by The World Health Organization concluded that “no tolerance to CBD at any of the dosages was observed. No studies of the physical dependence potential of CBD in animals were identified.” 

These studies also showed that “CBD did not change the threshold frequency required for intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS). However, high-dose (10 mg/kg and 20 mg/kg) CBD resulted in an elevation of the threshold suggestive of diminished reward activity.” 

Further, research has showed that CBD can actually help with seizures. A study conducted by the New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center concluded that out of 120 children and young adults suffering from Dravet syndrome, the median number of monthly convulsive seizures reduced from 12.4 to 5.9 with the use of CBD. In fact, as of June 25th, 2018. The The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new CBD based oral solution known as “Epidiolex.” This new medicine will help in the treatment of Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and epilepsy. This is the FDA’s first approved drug that contains a substance derived from marijuana.  

CBD has also been shown to help with other health issues such as cancer. For example, the Department of Biochemistry of Northwest University in South Africa concluded that “both CBD and Cannabis sativa extracts were shown to prevent cell growth and induce cell death in cervical cancer lines.”

Studies have also shown that CBD oil also can help with more common issues such as sleep. The National Center for PTSD-Dissemination and Training Division of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System claims that “CBD may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia” and that “CBD may hold promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.” 

Further, it is hypothesized that other cannabinoids such as nabilone and dronabinol “may gave short-term benefit for sleep apnea due to their modulatory effects on serotonin-mediated apneas” and that “nabilone may

reduce nightmares associated with PTSD and may improve sleep among patients with chronic pain.” 

As new research comes out, it seems apparent that CBD, and other like cannabinoids offer great use to the future of medicine. As of now, CBD oil is available in many places around Tucson.

 While plenty of research has gone into the benefits of CBD oil, the long-term effects of CBD oil are still unclear; and due to new laws being passed, it’s unclear whether future research into both CBD and marijuana will have any further obstacles. 

This is why research into these substances is important. Because only then can we remove any stigma that arises out of misinformation.

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