Cannabis

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Cannabis is a plant that is native to central Asia that has three species, cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. These plants (also known as hemp) grow in many parts of the world and have been cultivated for thousands of years. The plant has been cultivated because of the variety of uses, which include the three broad categories of physical, psychological, and spiritual uses.

Contents

Medicinal Benefits

There are a variety of medicinal uses beneficial to humans and animals, thanks to certain chemical compound in the cannabis plant. Below is a list of treatments and medicinal uses that have been shown in recent years to be possible with the cannabis plant.

ADD/ADHD

In animal studies, the administration of a synthetic cannabinoid that – like THC – binds to the CB1 receptor, normalized the impulsive behavioral profile in this subgroup of SHR rats, but had no effect on normal rats. It has been noted by doctors that cannabinoids are a very viable alternative to treating adolescents with ADD and ADHD. Not only has cannabis been shown to be beneficial with individuals who have ADD/ADHD, it is currently the only single medication that provides an adequate solution for deficit disorders, and remains a necessary component in a multi-drug approach. The green leaves of certain strains of cannabis appear to provide the best therapeutic effects for ADD/ADHD. Experiments with Marinol seem to indicate that THC is involved, but is not the primary therapeutic agent. The therapeutic agent(s) most useful in treating ADD/ADHD appear to be present in relatively low concentrations in cannabis. As such those with this condition must consume a larger quantity of cannabis in order to ingest a sufficient dosage of the target agent(s). This would explain why dried low-THC green leaves appear to be the most effective treatment.

Alcoholism

A new set of experiments in mice confirms that a brain receptor associated with the reinforcing effects of cannabis also helps to stimulate the rewarding and pleasurable effects of alcohol. The research, which was conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and was published online September 2, 2005, by the journal Behavioural Brain Research, confirms a genetic basis for susceptibility to alcohol abuse and also suggests that cannabis may be utilized for treatment. The outcome of a study as early as 1970 demonstrated that cannabis consumption may help to decrease alcoholic intake.

Another study found that cannabis helps protect against brain damage that is usually created by binge drinking (5 or more drinks per sitting). Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, used high-tech scans to compare microscopic changes in brain white matter in teens aged 16 to 19 who were divided into three groups: binge drinkers (boys who consume five or more drinks at one sitting, and girls who have four or more drinks); binge drinkers who also smoked marijuana; and a control group with little or no experience with either alcohol or drugs. As expected, the binge drinkers showed signs of white matter damage in all eight brain regions examined by the researchers. But the binge drinkers/marijuana users had less damage in seven out of the eight brain regions than the binge drinkers did. And compared to the control group, the binge drinkers/marijuana users had more white matter damage in only three regions. Cannabis has demonstrated in this study to have neuroprotective properties in mitigating alcohol-related oxidative stress or excitotoxic cell death.

ALS/ Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Emerging evidence from clinical studies and transgenic mouse models of ALS suggests that cannabinoids, the bioactive ingredients of cannabis sativa have therapeutic benefit in this disease. In a study, CBN was delivered via subcutaneously implanted osmotic mini-pumps (5 mg/kg/day) over a period of up to 12 weeks. It was found that this treatment significantly delays disease onset by more than two weeks while survival was not affected.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

An international group of researchers from Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. has found that administering a substance found in the cannabis plant can help the body’s natural protective system alleviate allergic contact dermatitis. Research by groups throughout the world has since shown that the endocannabinoid system is involved in many physiological processes, including the protective reaction of the mammalian body to a long list of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In an article in Science, researchers detail how the endocannabinoid system serves as a major regulator of cutaneous (skin) contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in a mouse model. In this model, they showed, for example, that mice lacking cannabinoid receptors display exacerbated inflammatory skin responses to an allergen. Since the data indicate that enhanced activation of the endocannabinoid system may function to dampen the CHS response, the researchers administered cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a constituent derived from the cannabis plant, to the experimental animals. They findings showed that the THC significantly decreased the allergic reaction in comparison to untreated mice. In order to better understand the molecular mechanism that may contribute to the increased CHS in cannabinoid-receptor deficient mice, the researchers performed a series of experiments which showed that mouse skin cells produce a specific chemical (a chemokine) which is involved in the annoying disease reaction. Activation of the endocannabinoid system in the skin upon exposure to a contact allergen lowers the allergic responses through modulating the production of this chemokine. The results thus clearly show a protective role for the endocannabinoid system in contact allergy in the skin and suggest that development of cannabinoid compounds based on elements produced from the cannabis plant could enhance therapeutic treatment for humans.

Alzheimer's Disease

The active ingredient in cannabis has been shown to stall decline from Alzheimer's disease, research suggests. The scientists first compared the brain tissue of patients who died from Alzheimer's disease with that of healthy people who had died at a similar age. They looked closely at brain cell receptors to which cannabinoids bind, allowing their effects to be felt. They also studied structures called microglia, which activate the brain's immune response. Microglia collect near the plaque deposits associated with Alzheimer's disease and, when active, cause inflammation. The researchers found a dramatically reduced functioning of cannabinoid receptors in diseased brain tissue. This was an indication that patients had lost the capacity to experience cannabinoids' protective effects.

The next step was to test the effect of cannabinoids on rats injected with the amyloid protein that forms Alzheimer's plaques. Those animals who were also given a dose of a cannabinoid performed much better in tests of their mental functioning. The researchers found that the presence of amyloid protein in the rats' brains activated immune cells. However, rats that also received the cannabinoid showed no sign of microglia activation. Using cell cultures, the researchers confirmed that cannabinoids counteracted the activation of microglia and thus reduced inflammation. Researcher Dr Maria de Ceballos has said that "These findings that cannabinoids work both to prevent inflammation and to protect the brain may set the stage for their use as a therapeutic approach for Alzheimer's disease."

Ohio State University scientists have found that specific elements of cannabis can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there. Their findings at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington D.C. suggest that chemical components of cannabis reduce inflammation and stimulate the production of new brain cells, thereby enhancing memory.

Antibacterial

Pharmacists and chemists have found another use for the multipurpose cannabis as a source of antibacterial chemicals for multi-drug resistant bacteria. The ingredients in cannabis, particularly the cannabinoids, have antiseptic properties. Giovanni Appendino, Simon Gibbons, and coworkers examined the activity of five common cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. All five cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, and CBN) were potent against bacteria. Notably, they performed well against bacteria that were known to be multidrug resistant, like the strains of MRSA that plagued U.K. hospitals. These cannabinoids are promising enough to warrant rigorous clinical trials. They are applicable as topical antiseptics, biodegradable antibacterial compounds for cosmetics, and systematic antibacterial agents.

Non-cannabinoid constituents in cannabis sativa also possess anti-bacterial properties against malaria, methicillim-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (aka MRSA), and other potentially drug-resistant pathogens, according to findings published in the journal Phytochemistry. Investigators at the University of Mississippi, National Center for Natural Products Research reported the discovery of eleven new non-cannabinoid constituents in cannabis, several of which possess strong “anti-microbial,” “anti-malarial,” and “anti-leishmanial” (a common skin parasite) activity. Scientists reported that several of the compounds also possessed anti-inflammatory properties and acted as potent anti-oxidants.

Anti-inflammatory

Cannabis has long been accredited with anti-inflammatory properties. The CB2 receptor in the tissue of the central nervous system plays a crucial role in inhibiting inflammation. If the receptor is activated, the cell releases fewer pro-inflammatory signal substances, or cytokines. The scientists have now discovered that the substance beta-carophyllene, which composes between 12 and 35 percent of the cannabis plant’s essential oil, activates the CB2 receptor selectively.

Anti-oxidant

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia.

Anti-psychotic

A significant study has demonstrated that although a high dose of THC, the main cannabis component, induces anxiety and psychotic-like symptoms in healthy volunteers, these effects are significantly reduced by cannabidiol (CBD), another cannabis constituent which is devoid of the psychoactive effects of the plant. This observation led researchers to suspect that CBD could have anxiolytic and/or antipsychotic actions. Studies in animal models and in healthy volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. The antipsychotic-like properties of CBD have been investigated in animal models using behavioral and neurochemical techniques which suggested that CBD has a pharmacological profile similar to that of atypical antipsychotic drugs. The results of two studies on healthy volunteers using Perception of binocular depth inversion and ketamine-induced psychotic symptoms supported the proposal of the antipsychotic-like properties of CBD. In addition, open case reports of schizophrenic patients treated with CBD and a preliminary report of a controlled clinical trial comparing CBD with an atypical antipsychotic drug have confirmed that this cannabinoid can be a safe and well-tolerated alternative treatment for schizophrenia. Future studies of CBD in other psychotic conditions such as bipolar disorder and comparative studies of its antipsychotic effects with those produced by clozapine in schizophrenic patients are clearly indicated. This demosntrates that cannabis, in its natural state with all its constituents, will act as an antipsychotic and be significantly more beneficial than if specific chemical compounds, such as THC, were to be extracted from the plant and ingested.

Anxiety

A study has shown that one of the compounds in the cannabis plant effectively reduces anxiety. This discovery has been written about in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. A study by Xia Zhang and colleagues from University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada found that rats getting regular doses of an artificial version of a potent cannabis ingredient had less anxiety and depression. The new cells grew in the hippocampus, a brain area associated with emotional expression and some aspects of memory formation. As a result, the rats also exhibited less anxiety and depression-like behavior after a month of the treatment, the study found.

Appetite Stimulant

Many studies have discovered that cannabis is an appetite stimulant. Anyone who has ever ingested cannabis knows quite well this particular effect. However, in order to have empirical evidence, research has been done to verify this long-known fact. THC has been proven to improve appetite and reverse weight loss in AIDS patients.

Arthritis

A compound found in cannabis, as well as in herbs such as basil and oregano, could help to treat arthritis, Swiss scientists believe. (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP) interacts selectively with one of two cannabinoid receptors, CB2, blocking the chemical signals that lead to inflammation without triggering cannabis's mood-altering effects. Many cannabinoids bind to the CB2 receptor, but few target it selectively. Most also interact with CB1, which is responsible for cannabis' psychoactive properties. CB1 is found in brain tissue, whereas CB2 is found only in cells elsewhere in the body. Birgit Kraft, who studies the therapeutic effects of cannabis at the Medical University of Vienna, says selective CB2 agonists are keenly sought after by clinicians, as they may be candidates for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Asthma

Cannabis has been verified to open up bronchial airways in asthma patients in several studies. In one study, after smoked cannabis containing 2% THC, specific airway conductance (SGaw) increased immediately and remained significantly elevated (33-48% above initial control values) for at least 2 hours, whereas Sgaw did not change after a placebo. In another study where asthma was experimentally-induced, there was a prompt correction of the the asthma with the use of cannabis.

Atherosclerosis

The main compound in cannabis can prevent blood vessels from developing atherosclerosis, an inflammatory condition that is the primary cause of heart disease and stroke in the developed world. Mice were fed 1 milligram of THC per kilogram of bodyweight to mice susceptible to atherosclerosis and it was shown to greatly slow the progress of the disease.

Autism

Some families have found cannabis to be nothing short of miraculous. Some of the symptoms it has ameliorated include anxiety--even severe anxiety--aggression, panic disorder, generalized rage, tantrums, property destruction and self-injurious behavior. The Sam Project is the most famous evidence of cannabis helping an autistic child.

Bipolar Disorder

The use of cannabis has been seen as acting as a mood stabilizer in bipolar disorder. The cannabinoids Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) may exert sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant effects. A study reported that cannabis was associated with an increase in the number of hypomanic days and a decrease in the number of depressed days. The data suggest that cannabis may indeed have an effect on mood in bipolar patients that needs to be systematically examined. Another study has found that cannabis use may be related to improved neurocognition in bipolar disorder.

A new study has discovered that the regular use of cannabis makes those with bipolar disorder smarter. The research, headed by Dr. Ole Andreassen of Oslo University Hospital in Norway found that some patients with bipolar disorder who use cannabis actually performed better on certain tests involving cognitive functioning. The bipolar patients who used cannabis performed better in verbal fluency than bipolar patients who did not use cannabis.They appeared to perform slightly better on the learning test, as well.

Brain Cancer

New research out of Spain suggests that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) appears to prompt the death of brain cancer cells. The finding is based on work with mice designed to carry human cancer tumors, as well as from an analysis of THC's impact on tumor cells extracted from two patients coping with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. This extremely significant discovery is to be noted for its medical application, particularly because the THC appears "to kill cancer cells, while it does not affect normal cells." The findings were published in the April issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Another recent finding, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, has discovered that combining the two most common cannabinoid compounds in cannabis may boost the effectiveness of treatments to inhibit the growth of brain cancer cells and increase the number of brain cancer cells that die off.

Brain Tumors

Cannabis extracts shrink brain tumors and other cancers by blocking the growth of the blood vessels which feed them, suggests a new study. An active component of cannabis has previously been shown to improve brain tumors in rats. But now Manuel Guzmán at Complutense University, Spain, and colleagues have demonstrated how the cannabis extracts block a key chemical needed for tumors to sprout blood vessels - a process called angiogenesis. For the first time, the team has shown the cannabinoids impede this chemical in people with the most aggressive form of brain cancer - glioblastoma multiforme. "The cannabinoid inhibits the angiogenesis response - if a tumor doesn't do angiogenesis, it doesn't grow," she explains. "So if you can improve angiogenesis on one side and kill the tumor cells on the other side, you can try for a therapy for cancer."

The team tested the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in 30 mice. They found the cannabis extract inhibited the expression of several genes related to the production of a chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is critical for angiogenesis, which allows tumors to grow a network of blood vessels to supply their growth. The cannabinoid significantly lowered the activity of VEGF in the mice and two human brain cancer patients, the study showed. The drug did this by increasing the activity of a fat molecule called ceramide, suggests the study, as adding a ceramide inhibitor stifled the ability of the cannabinoid to block VEGF. "We saw that the tumors [in mice] were smaller and a bit pallid," adds Blázquez. The paleness of the cancer reflected its lack of blood supply as a result of the treatment. In the human patients, she says: "It seems that it works."

Breast Cancer

A chemical compound that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant may prevent breast cancer from spreading, according to a study published in the journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. Researchers found that a chemical called cannabidiol (CBD) affects the activity of a gene known as Id-1 in patients with hormone-independent breast cancer. In embryos, Id-1 is responsible for helping cells grow and spread, but is supposed to remain inactive in adults. In human adults, it is found only in metastatic cancer cells, or cancer cells that are spreading throughout the body. The chemical's major advantage, according to the researchers, is its non-toxicity, unlike treatments such as chemotherapy.

A compound found in cannabis has been found to stop breast cancer spreading throughout the body by US scientists. The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute team are hopeful that cannabidiol or CBD could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy. CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1 which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumour site - a process called metastasis. Past work has shown CBD can block aggressive human brain cancers. The latest work found CBD appeared to have a similar effect on breast cancer cells in the lab.

Cervical Cancer

Test tube studies sugget that THC and another cannabis-derived compound slow the spread of cervical cancer. The findings add to the fast-growing number of animal and cell-culture studies showing different and direct anticancer effects for cannabinoids, chemical compounds derived from cannabis.

Chemotherapy

A myriad of studies have proven many times over that cannabis is very helpful by being an antiemetic medicine in those who have undergone chemotherapy. Studies have confirmed the usefulness of THC in patients whose chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is refractory to other standard antiemetics.

Cholangiocarcinoma

A new study out of Thailand demonstrates that THC can fight cholangiocarcinoma – cancer of the bile duct. This is a rare but deadly form of cancer, with only 30% of patients still alive after five years, according to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. Based on these new lab results, the Thai researchers conclude, “THC is potentially used to retard cholangiocarcinoma cell growth and metastasis.”

Cocaine Withdrawal

New research has shown that JWH-133, a synthetic cannabidiol derived from cannabis has helped mice with cocaine withdrawal. JWH-133 stimulates CB2 receptors located in the brains of both mice and humans. According to the results of the study, mice that ingested the cannabis compound needed 50-60% less cocaine than mice that were not given JWH-133.

Colon Cancer

Preclinical research shows that cannabinoid cell surface receptor CB1 plays a tumor-suppressing role in human colorectal cancer, scientists report in the Aug. 1 edition of the journal Cancer Research. CB1 is well-established for relieving pain and nausea, elevating mood and stimulating appetite by serving as a docking station for the cannabinoid group of signaling molecules. It now may serve as a new path for cancer prevention or treatment. Treating mice that had the CB1 receptor with an endocannabinoid agonist resulted in a decline in polyps ranging from 16.7% to 50%. The reduction was greater for larger polyps. CB1 thwarts survivin, a protein that protects cancer

Cannabinoids previously had been shown to kill cancer cells in lab experiments by inducing apoptosis - programmed cell death. The team confirmed the role of CB1 in apoptosis, showing that tumor cells with high CB1 expression were sensitive to apoptosis when treated by a cannabinoid agonist. Cell lines with silenced CB1 resisted cell death. A series of experiments showed that CB1 increases cancer cell death by stifling a protein called survivin. Survivin is overexpressed in nearly every human tumor but is barely detectable in normal tissue.

Cough

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive chemical found in cannabis, has a well known effect on the brain. But it also latches onto the nerve cells in the upper airways of mammals and short-circuits the signals that cause coughing spasms. The US government's National Institute of Health (NIH) has even been paying the University of California in Oakland, US, to develop a cough cure based on this effect. However, such a development is not necessary since cannabis provides this treatment already.

Crohn's Disease

Patients with Crohn's disease reported benefits from using cannabis for their Crohn's Disease, including pain relief and increased appetite, according to survey data published in the autumn 2005 issue of O'Shaughnessy's: The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice. Pre-clinical data published in the previous summer in the journal Gastroenterology found that cannabinoids may promote healing of the gastrointestinal membrane, and could offer relief to patients suffering from inflammatory disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Previous trials in animals have demonstrated that the activation of cannabinoid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract protects the body from inflammation and modulates gastric secretions and intestinal motility, among other functions. In fact, historically, cannabis was smoked in India and China centuries ago for its gastrointestinal properties.

Depression

Researchers at Canada's University of Sasketchewan have found that a chemical found in cannabis can act like an antidepressant. They suggest the compound causes nerve cells to regenerate. The Journal of Clinical Investigation study showed rats given a cannabinoid were less anxious and less depressed. McGill University in Montreal found that cannabinoids elicit antidepressant-like behavior and activate serotonergic neurons through the medial prefrontal cortex. Preclinical and clinical studies by the university show that cannabis modulates mood and possesses antidepressant-like properties, mediated by the agonistic activity of cannabinoids on central CB1 receptors

Diabetes

Studies indicate cannabidiol, a cannabis compound, works as a consummate multi-tasker to protect the eye from growing a plethora of leaky blood vessels, the hallmark of diabetic retinopathy, says Dr. Gregory I. Liou, molecular biologist at the Medical College of Georgia. Cannabidiol, an antioxidant, may help save the retina from blindness caused by diabetes. Test-tube studies by others, as well as Dr. Liou’s pilot studies in diabetic animal models show cannabidiol works to interrupt essentially all destructive points of action on the retina. “What we believe cannabidiol does is go in here as an antioxidant to neutralize the toxic superoxides. Number two, it inhibits the self-destructive system and allows the self-produced endogenous cannabinoids to stay there longer by inhibiting the enzyme that destroys them.” Cannabidiol also helps keep microglial cells from turning on nerve cells by inhibiting cannabinoid receptors on microglial cells that are at least partially responsible for their ability to destroy rather than support the cells. Cannabidiols help save the neuron and, at the same time, make sure the microglial cells stay in microglial form. How good do you want a drug to be?” Dr. Liou says. These studies have been published in the American Journal of Pathology. He hopes the compound in cannabis may one day be given along with insulin to stop the early changes that set the stage for damaged or destroyed vision. Another study in Jerusalem discovered that administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) lowers incidence of diabetes in animals and may be able to prevent human type 1 diabetes, according to preclinical findings.

Dystonia

Smoking cannabis completely eliminated pain and improved symptoms of dystonia in a 42-year-old chronic pain patient, according to findings of a case study published in The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. After using cannabis, the patient did not require any analgesic medication for the following 48 hours. The patient had previously reported suffering from "continuous debilitating pain" for the prior 15 years. Furthermore, according to a 1999 review by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, "the available evidence from animal and human studies indicates that cannabinoids can have a substantial analgesic effect."

Epilepsy

Clinical studies as well as anecdotal evidence demonstrate that cannabis is able to control seizures. Researchers from Germany found that natural brain chemicals which resemble cannabis extracts can interrupt a process which can trigger a seizure. Using cannabis for epilepsy is nothing new. There are reports dating from the 15th century talking about the use of cannabis to ease the symptoms of epilepsy.

Fever

Cannabis use may confer health benefits by lowering overall body temperature, according to Tod Mikuriya, MD. Clinically, cannabis appears to actually lower temperature, which can help those with fevers. The results of a study published in the Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics show that cannabinoids interact with systemic bacterial LPS injection and indicate a role of the CB1 receptor subtype in the pathogenesis of LPS fever.

Fibromyalgia

Oral administration of THC significantly reduces both chronic and experimentally induced pain in patients with fibromyalgia, according to clinical trial data to be published in the June 2006 issue of the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion. "All patients who completed the delta-9-THC therapy ... experienced pain relief of more than 50 percent," authors concluded.

Glaucoma

Significant success has been demonstrated in alleviating the symptoms of glaucoma by orally administering to glaucoma sufferers a therapeutically effective, but sub-psychotropic dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the most active ingredient in cannabis. Just two examples would be that it lowers intraocular pressure (IOP) and prevents RGC death.

Heart Disease

In rats heart failure develops within 12 weeks after a big cardiac infarction. Scientists of the University of Wurzburg in Germany found out that daily application of the synthetic cannabinoid HU-210 after the infarction prevented the drop of blood pressure (left-ventricular systolic pressure) and dysfunction of the arteries (endothelial dysfunction). HU-210 activates CB1 receptors as does THC. (see Artherosclerosis)

Hepatitis C

Cannabis use has been found to improve retention and virological outcomes in patients treated for hepatitis C. The study found cannabis users being treated for HCV were three times more likely to have a "sustained virological response," meaning the virus can't be detected six months after treatment ends.

Herpes

The University of South Florida College of Medicine scientists reported that the compound THC in cannabis may block the spread of several forms of cancer causing herpes viruses. THC acts specifically on gamma herpes viruses. The chemical had no effect on another related virus, herpes simplex-1, which causes cold sores and genital herpes.

Hiccups

Two American medical doctors report the use of marijuana to cure persistent (intractable) hiccups in an AIDS patient. Following surgery he developed intractable hiccups. Eight days after surgery the patient who had not previously smoked marijuana did so with the result that the hiccups stopped. They recurred the next day, but disappeared permanently on the next day when he again smoked marijuana. The doctors conclude that marijuana may be effective in stopping hiccups untreatable by other means.

HIV/AIDS

There is significant evidence that cannabinoids may be involved in the modulation of pain, especially of neuropathic origin. HIV-related painful peripheral neuropathy is a significant medical problem with unsatisfactory treatment options. Based on the effects of cannabinoids in pre-clinical models of neuropathic pain and anecdotal case reports. A controlled trial of smoked cannabis was conducted to verify these claims.

Hypertension

A new method for lowering blood pressure (hypertension) through use of a compound that synthesizes a cannabis (hashish) plant component has been developed by a pharmacology Ph.D. student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy. The cannabis plant,through its chemical compounds called cannabinoids, has been shown to have a beneficial, hypotensive effect. Tt was found that the cannabis compound reduced blood pressure when administered to the rats in relatively low doses. Additional testing also showed that the compound also brought about another beneficial effect, which was the relaxation of the blood vessels.

Huntington's Disease

A study was conducted in three patients with Huntington's disease (HD) to verify claims of cannabis being helpful in treating the symptoms. The patients, aged 30 to 56, had HD of 7 to 12 years' duration. Their condition had been slowly progressive and unresponsive to prior therapy with neuroleptics. Orally administered cannabis was initiated at 300 mg per day and increased 1 week later to 600 mg per day for the next 3 weeks. Mild improvement (5-15%) in the choreic movements was documented using the tongueprotrusion test and a chorea severity evaluation scale after the first week. Further improvement (20-40%) was noticed after the second week of cannabis use, and this remained stable for the next 2 weeks. Except for transient, mild hypotension, no side effects were recorded, and laboratory tests were normal. The withdrawal of cannabis after 48 hours resulted in return of choreic movements to the pre-cannabis treatment state.

Increased Lung Capacity

The associations between use of cannabis and better lung function was found in a population-based cohort. Cannabis and tobacco use were reported at ages 18, 21, 26, and 32 years. Spirometry, plethysmography, and carbon monoxide transfer factor were measured at age 32. Associations between lung function and exposure to each substance were adjusted for exposure to the other substance. Cumulative cannabis use was associated with higher forced vital capacity, total lung capacity, functional residual capacity, and residual volume. Cannabis was also associated with higher airways resistance but not with forced expiratory volume in 1 second, forced expiratory ratio, or transfer factor. These findings were similar amongst those who did not smoke tobacco. By contrast, tobacco use was associated with lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second, lower forced expiratory ratio, lower transfer factor, and higher static lung volumes, but not with airways resistance.Cannabis appears to have different effects on lung function to those of tobacco. Cannabis use was associated with higher lung volumes suggesting hyperinflation and increased large-airways resistance. There was little evidence for airflow obstruction or impairment of gas transfer.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A compound found in cannabis, as well as in herbs such as basil and oregano, could help to treat inflammatory bowel diseases, Swiss scientists believe. (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP) is an aromatic sesquiterpene that has used for many years as a food additive because of its peppery flavor. The researchers now say that it interacts selectively with one of two cannabinoid receptors, CB2, blocking the chemical signals that lead to inflammation without triggering cannabis's mood-altering effects. Many cannabinoids bind to the CB2 receptor, but few target it selectively. Most also interact with CB1, which is responsible for cannabis' psychoactive properties. CB1 is found in brain tissue, whereas CB2 is found only in cells elsewhere in the body. The compound is the only product identified in nature that activates CB2 selectively. 'There are many compounds that have been designed synthetically that are CB2 selective, but they are made in the lab,' says Jürg Gertsch, who led the study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. According to Gretsch, BCP is potent enough to have an impact at normal dietary levels.

The team screened a whole library of natural products for cannabinoid activity, which led finally to fractionation of Cannibis sativa essential oil and identification of BCP as the active component. They then tested the compound by using it to treat mice with swollen paws and found that in around 70% of cases, small doses of BCP were enough to make the inflammation subside. Birgit Kraft, who studies the therapeutic effects of cannabis at the Medical University of Vienna, says selective CB2 agonists are keenly sought after by clinicians, as they may be candidates for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Leukemia

The New Drug Study Group in London discovered that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, works to kill leukemia cells by affecting the gene, MKP3. In a study published in the February 2005 issue of Blood, Dr. Wai Man Liu and colleagues at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London reported that THC-induced cell death in a panel of leukemia cells, including two AML cell lines. Liu and his team have begun to uncover the mechanism by which THC kills those cells and potentially promotes longer-term survival. In another study, US scientists who found out that exposure of leukaemia cells to CBD led to a reduction in cell viability and induction of apoptosis. In living animals CBD caused a reduction in number of leukaemia cells. The scientists noted that CBD "may be a novel and highly selective treatment for leukemia."

Lung Cancer

The active compound in cannabis (THC) can slow the growth of lung tumors and reduce the spread of the cancer in mice. In a study done recently, human lung cancer tumors grew less than half as fast in mice that received moderate doses of the compound. Ramesh Ganju at the Harvard Cancer Center in Boston, Massachusetts, US, and colleagues deposited human lung cancer cells under the skin of a dozen mice and allowed the tumors to grow in the animals for about two weeks. They then began giving half of these mice daily injections of about 250 micrograms of synthetic THC right next to the tumors for three weeks. A cannabis cigarette may contain as much as 150 milligrams of THC, indicating that even a microdose can have visible anti-cancer effects. Tumors in the control mice averaged about 0.6 grams in weight by the end of the five-week trial. By comparison, those in the mice that received THC weighed just 0.25 grams - 60% less.

Lymphoma

THC and other cannabinoids induce apoptosis in murine tumors of immune origin, according to researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. In a series of in vitro experiments, Dr. Nagarkatti and her colleagues exposed murine lymphoma and mastocytoma cells to four cannabinoid receptor agonists. THC and two of the others significantly reduced cell viability and increased apoptosis. In vivo experiments confirmed the effect of THC. Ten days after mice were injected with lymphoma cells, cells collected from animals treated with the highest dose of THC showed 77.3% apoptosis. Two weeks of THC treatment cured 25% of lymphoma-bearing mice. The research group also demonstrated that three human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines expressed CB2 and not CB1. Three cannabinoids, including THC, induced apoptosis in these cell lines in vitro, and THC showed the same effect when cultured with cells from patients diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Mad Cow Disease

According to basic research of scientists of the National Centre for Scientific Research in Valbonne, France, cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in cannabis, may prevent the development of prion diseases, the most known being BSE (bovine spongiforme enzephalopathy), which is often called mad cow disease. It is believed that the BSE may be transmitted to human beings. In humans, it is known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. CBD inhibited the accumulation of prion proteins in both mouse and sheep prion- infected cells. Moreover, after infection with mouse scrapie, a prion disease, CBD limited accumulation of the prion protein in the brain and significantly increased the survival time of infected mice. CBD inhibited the nerve damaging effects of prions in a concentration-dependent manner.

Migraine

Cannabis was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1860 to 1941 as being a medical treatment for the prevention and relief of migraine headaches. Historical information shows that Cannabis was held in high regard for the treatment of migraine by American and British physicians for at least eight decades, from the latter half of the 19th century until the early 1940s. According to Russo, in 1915 "Sir William Osler, the acknowledged father of modern medicine, stated of migraine treatment, `Cannabis indica is probably the most satisfactory remedy.'"

Although no modern clinical studies have specifically investigated the use of Cannabis in migraine, a number of small pain-relief studies have reported positive results in chronic headache pain and improvement of pain tolerance. A study investigating the effects of oral doses of the Cannabis compound delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC) in patients with cancer demonstrated a trend toward pain relief with escalating doses. The analgesic properties of Cannabis are believed to be unrelated to opioid mechanisms. Recent studies have pointed out some possible mechanisms of action for cannabinoids in migraine, including antinociceptive effects (interference with pain transmission) in an area of the brain that is considered a likely area for migraine generation.

Morning Sickness

Cannabis has been used therapeutically to mitigate pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. Of the 79 respondents to a survey who had experienced pregnancy, 51 (65%) reported using cannabis during their pregnancies. While 59 (77%) of the respondents who had been pregnant had experienced nausea and/or vomiting of pregnancy, 40 (68%) had used cannabis to treat the condition, and of these respondents, 37 (over 92%) rated cannabis as "extremely effective" or "effective".

Multiple Sclerosis

Cannabinoids possess neuroprotective properties and may modify the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a review published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design. Investigators at the London School of Medicine, Neuroscience Center reported that cannabinoids likely hold therapeutic value for MS patients beyond providing temporary symptomatic relief. “Recent clinical trials may indeed suggest that cannabis has some potential to relieve, pain, spasms and spasticity in MS,” authors wrote. “In addition, CB(1) and CB(2) cannabinoid receptor stimulation may also have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective potential. Therefore cannabinoids may not only offer symptom control but may also slow the neurodegenerative disease progression that ultimately leads to the accumulation of disability.”

Nausea

There are several studies that have shown that cannabis or specific compounds in cannabis significantly decreases nausea. Furthermore, THC may relax the colon and reduce stomach cramping after eating, according to a study presented at the 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology. The study compared the effects of dronabinol (THC) and placebo on colonic motility and sensation in healthy adults. The researchers found that THC relaxes the colon and reduces post-eating contractions and cramping. Further, the effects were most pronounced in females.

Neuropathic Pain

The growing body of evidence that cannabis is effective as a pain reliever has been expanded with publication of a new study in The Journal of Pain, reporting that patients with nerve pain showed reduced pain intensity from smoking cannabis. Researchers at University of California Davis examined whether marijuana produces analgesia for patients with neuropathic pain. Thirty-eight patients were examined. They were given either high-dose (7%), low-dose (3.5%) or placebo cannabis. The authors reported that identical levels of analgesia were produced at each cumulative dose level by both concentrations of the agent. As with opioids, cannabis does not rely on a relaxing or tranquilizing effect, but reduces the core component of nociception and the emotional aspect of the pain experience to an equal degree.

Smoking cannabis helps relieve pain in patients with HIV-related neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that leads to burning and tingling sensations, which can be difficult to treat with traditional medications. "Neuropathy is a chronic and significant problem in HIV patients as there are few existing treatments that offer adequate pain management," researcher Ronald J. Ellis, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, says in a news release. Ellis and colleagues compared cannabis to a placebo in 28 patients with HIV-related neuropathic pain that was not adequately controlled by pain medications, including opioids. The team randomly assigned each participant to smoke either cannabis or a cigarette that resembled cannabis but did not contain the drug's active chemical, THC. The National Institute on Drug Abuse supplied both products. The participants smoked the material four times a day for five straight days, then abstained for two weeks, and then followed the same experiment again. Each person also continued to take prescribed painkillers during the trial.

Smoking the cannabis provided much greater pain relief than smoking the placebo. 46% of participants had clinically meaningful pain relief with cannabis compared to 18% with the placebo. Pain relief varied from "strong" to "mild to moderate." The researchers say that cannabis significantly reduces HIV-related neuropathic pain when added to the patient's already-prescribed pain management regimen and may be an "effective option for pain relief" in those whose pain is not controlled with current medications. The findings, which appear online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, add to a growing body of evidence that shows that cannabis can be a potent painkiller for patients with neuropathy.

Neuroprotectant

Studies reveal that cannabis protects against brain damage from stroke, heart attacks, and nerve gas. Experiments with rat nerve cells, and then with actual rats, suggest that THC and cannabidiol, both compounds found in marijuana, can protect cells by acting as antioxidants, and could be useful in the treatment and prevention of stroke, heart attacks, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Osteoporosis

The endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in skeletal remodeling (the process whereby old bone is removed and new bone is added) and is an ideal target for anti-osteoporotic drug development, according to a review in the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Investigators at the Bone Laboratory of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem report that the activation of the CB2 cannabinoid receptor reduces experimentally-induced bone loss and stimulates bone formation. "A therapy based on synthetic CB2 agonists is a promising novel target for anti-osteoporotic drug development," they conclude. Investigators had previously reported that mice deficient in CB2 receptors exhibit markedly accelerated age-related bone loss (osteoporosis).

Pancreatic Cancer

A study found that cannabinoid receptors are expressed in human pancreatic tumor cell lines and tumor biopsies at much higher levels than in normal pancreatic tissue. Studies conducted with MiaPaCa2 and Panc1 cell lines showed that cannabinoid administration induced apoptosis, increased ceramide levels, and up-regulated mRNA levels of the stress protein p8. Cannabinoids also reduced the growth of tumor cells in two animal models of pancreatic cancer. In addition, cannabinoid treatment inhibited the spreading of pancreatic tumor cells. Moreover, cannabinoid administration selectively increased apoptosis and TRB3 expression in pancreatic tumor cells but not in normal tissue.

Parkinson's Disease

Nearly half of Parkinson's disease patients who have tried cannabis say the drug helped relieve their symptoms, according to a patients' survey. The investigators asked all patients who were treated for Parkinson's disease at a center in Prague to complete a questionnaire that asked about cannabis use and about several Parkinson's disease symptoms. Of 630 questionnaires sent out 339 (54%) were returned. Among the responders, 25% reported that they had used cannabis. Most had used it orally, either as fresh or dried leaves. Within this group, 39 patients (46%) reported that their Parkinson's disease symptoms in general were relieved after they started using cannabis. 26 (31%) reported an improvement in tremor while at rest, and 38 (45%) experienced a relief of bradykinesia. Relief of muscle rigidity was reported by 32 (38%), and 12 (14%) said they had an improvement in levodopa-induced dyskinesias. The respondents reported that the improvement in symptoms occurred an average of 1.7 months after they had started using cannabis. Patients who used it for at least three months were more likely to experience symptom relief than those with shorter experience.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In treating PTSD, cannabis provides control and amelioration of chronic stressors without adverse side effects. Cannabis is a unique psychotropic immunomodulator which can best be categorized as an “easement.” Modulating the overwhelming flood of negative affect in PTSD is analogous to the release of specific tension, a process of “unclenching” or release. The modulation of emotional response relieves the flooding of negative affect. The skeletal and smooth muscle relaxation decreases the sympathetic nervous reactivity and kindling component of agitation. Fight/flight responses and Anger symptoms are significantly ameliorated. The fear of loss of control diminishes as episodes of agitation and feeling overwhelmed are lessened. Experiences of control then come to prevail. Thinking is freed from attachment to the past and permitted to fix on the present and future. Instead of being transfixed by nightmares, the sufferer is freed to realize dreams. Based on both safety and efficacy, cannabis should be considered first in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Production of new brain cells

Contrary to the popular belief that cannabis kills brain cells, a study has shown that one of the compounds in the cannabis plant is an active ingredient that facilitates the production of new brain cells. This discovery has been written about in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. A study by Xia Zhang and colleagues from University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, found that rats getting regular doses of an artificial version of a potent cannabis ingredient grew new brain cells faster than other rats. The new cells grew in the hippocampus, a brain area associated with emotional expression and some aspects of memory formation. They found that HU210 (a synthetic drug that is about one-hundred times as powerful as THC) seemed to induce new brain cell growth, just as some antidepressant drugs do, they report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Ohio State University scientists have found that specific elements of cannabis can stimulate the formation of new brain cells. This research is also showing that receptors in the brain's endocannabinoid system can influence brain inflammation and the production of new neurons, or brain cells.

Prostate Cancer

A recent study showed that expression levels of both cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, are significantly higher in CA-human papillomavirus-10 (virally transformed cells derived from adenocarcinoma of human prostate tissue), and other human prostate cells than in human prostate epithelial and virally transformed cells derived from normal human prostate tissue. It was observed that there was an induction of apoptosis, a decrease in protein and mRNA expression of androgen receptor, a decrease in intracellular protein and mRNA expression of prostate-specific antigen, a decrease in secreted prostate-specific antigen levels, and decrease in protein expression of proliferation cell nuclear antigen and vascular endothelial growth factor. The results suggest that cannabis can be an effective treatment for prostate cancer.

Further research has found that chemicals in the cannabis plant have been found to stop prostate cancer cells from growing in the laboratory. After working initially with human cancer cell lines, Ines Diaz-Laviada and colleagues from the University of Alcala in Madrid also tested one compound on mice and discovered it produced a significant reduction in tumor growth. The cannabinoids tested by the Spanish team are thought to work against prostate cancer because they block a receptor, or molecular doorway, on the surface of tumour cells. This stops them from dividing. In effect, the cancer cell receptors can recognize and "talk to" chemicals found in cannabis.

Protection of blood vessels from clogging

A compound derived from the cannabis plant protects blood vessels from dangerous clogging, a study of mice has shown. The discovery could lead to new drugs to ward off heart disease and stroke. The compound, called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), combats the blood-vessel disease atherosclerosis in mice. This disease occurs when damage to blood vessels, by nicotine from cigarettes, for example, causes an immune response that leads to the formation of fatty deposits in arteries. These deposits form because the immune cells can linger too long, recruiting others and leading to an inflamed blockage that snares fatty molecules. The disease is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke in the developed world. THC seems to tone down this immune response, report François Mach of the University Hospital Geneva, Switzerland and his colleagues. The compound binds to a protein called CB2 that is present on the surfaces of certain immune cells. Mach's team administered tiny amounts of pure THC to mice. The treatment reduced the progression of blood-vessel blockage formation by more than one-third, the researchers report in this week's Nature.

Schizophrenia

Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia report obtaining subjective relief from cannabis to control various symptoms associated with the disease, according to survey data published in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. An investigator at Flinders University in South Australia interviewed 30 patients aged between 18 and 65 who had a DSM-IV comorbid diagnosis of schizophrenia and cannabis 'abuse.' The investigator reported that over half of the respondents reported using cannabis to control schizophrenic symptoms. Of those interviewed, 25 patients reported that smoking cannabis reduced their anxiety; 21 patients said that marijuana helped them to forget childhood trauma; and 12 stated that cannabis "enhanc[ed] their spiritual awareness." Ten respondents reported that cannabis "makes the voices louder and clearer;" eight patients said that cannabis "enhanced their cognitive processes;" and five stated that it "increased their physical or mental energy." Finally, eight patients said that the legalization of cannabis would "improve their mental state" because it would reduce the anxiety and paranoia associated with using an illegal substance. Contrary to some other studies about cannabis and schizophrenia, Dr. Mitch Earleywine stated that "It's not that cannabis use is causing schizophrenia,". It's that patients notice the initial symptoms of schizophrenia and turn to marijuana for relief."

Sleep Apnea

A study in the Department of Medicine in the University of Illinois at Chicago found that potent suppression of sleep-related apnea is possible by both exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The data show that delta9THC and oleamide each stabilized respiration during all sleep stages. With delta9THC, apnea index decreased by 42% (F=2.63; p=0.04) and 58% (F=2.68; p=0.04) in NREM and REM sleep, respectively. Oleamide produced equivalent apnea suppression. This observation suggests an important role for endocannabinoids in maintaining autonomic stability during sleep. Oleamide and delta9THC blocked serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea (p<0.05 for each), suggesting that inhibitory coupling between Cannabinoids and serotonin receptors in the peripheral nervous system may act on apnea expression.

Tourette's Syndrome

A primary compound in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is effective in reducing "tics" in patients suffering from Tourette's Syndrome (TS), according to clinical trail data published in a recent edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Tourette's Syndrome is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by motor tics (sudden spasms especially in the facial muscles, neck and shoulders) and one or more vocal tics. Twenty-four patients participated in the double-blind placebo-controlled trial over a period of six weeks. Treatment with up to 10 mg of THC resulted in significant improvement of tic severity, authors wrote. No serious adverse effects to the treatment were reported. "No detrimental effect was seen on learning curve, interference, recall and recognition of word lists, immediate visual memory span, and divided attention" from THC during or after the treatment.

Carcinogen Concern

There has been understandable concern that, when ingested by smoking, cannabis will produce as many carcinogens has tobacco smoking. Tobacco has been shown to have either the same amount or less carcinogens in its smoke than cannabis does (depending on what study is read), yet not a single death has ever been attributed to smoking cannabis, but 5,400,000 people die ever year because of tobacco-related reasons. The question now stands as being: How can cannabis have hundreds of carcinogens and yet not be a cause for a single death or ever a single instance of lung cancer? The answer comes in the anti-cancer properties of the cannabinols in the cannabis. Any cancer cells that may be created by smoking the cannabis are immediately attacked by this compound, thus neutralizing the carcinogenic chemicals. This is also the suggestible why individuals who smoked tobacco for years, along with cannabis, have shown no signs of lung cancer.

Robert J. Melamede of the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs found that “although cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke are chemically very similar, evidence suggests that their effects are very different,” which he said a statement from BioMed Central, publishers of the Harm Reduction Journal. “The pharmacological effects of tobacco and cannabis smoke differ in many ways, mainly because tobacco smoke contains nicotine while cannabis smoke contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The cancer-promoting effects of smoke are increased by nicotine, while they are reduced by THC.” “Tobacco and cannabis smoke contain the same carcinogenic compounds – and depending on which part of the plant is smoked, cannabis smoke can contain more of them – but, whereas nicotine activates these carcinogenic compounds, THC has been shown to inhibit them in mice cells." If one wishes to use cannabis for the treatment of medicinal conditions, he or she would have the most benefit by using a method known as vaporization, since there are no carcinogens produced with this method and it would have the best effect.

Research about carcinogenic concerns

Individuals who smoke cannabis do not appear to be at increased risk for developing lung cancer, according to new research. While a clear increase in cancer risk was seen among cigarette smokers in this particular study, no such association was seen for regular cannabis users. Even very heavy, long-term cannabis users who had smoked more than 22,000 joints over a lifetime seemed to have no greater risk than infrequent cannabis users or nonusers. “We know that there are as many or more carcinogens and co-carcinogens in marijuana smoke as in cigarettes,” researcher Donald Tashkin, MD, of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine tells WebMD. “But we did not find any evidence for an increase in cancer risk for even heavy marijuana smoking.” Carcinogens are substances that cause cancer.

Tashkin presented the findings at The American Thoracic Society’s 102nd International Conference, held in San Diego. The study population was limited to people who were younger than 60 because people older than that would probably not have used cannabis in their teens and early adult years. “People who may have smoked marijuana in their youth are just now getting to the age when cancers are being seen,” Tashkin says. A total of 611 lung cancer patients living in Los Angeles County, and 601 patients with other cancers of the head and neck were compared with 1,040 people without cancer matched for age, sex, and the neighborhood they lived in. All the participants were asked about lifetime use of cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol, as well as other drugs, their diets, occupation, family history of lung cancer, and socioeconomic status. The heaviest cannabis users in the study had smoked more than 22,000 joints, while moderately heavy smokers had smoked between 11,000 and 22,000 joints. While two-pack-a-day or more cigarette smokers were found to have a 20-fold increase in lung cancer risk, no elevation in risk was seen for even the very heaviest cannabis smokers. The more tobacco a person smoked, the greater their risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers of the head and neck. But people who smoked more cannabis were not at increased risk compared with people who smoked less and people who didn’t smoke at all.

Studies suggest that cannabis smoke contains 50% higher concentrations of chemicals linked to lung cancer than cigarette smoke. However, the reason why there is no increased risk in developing cancer might have something to do with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is a chemical found in cannabis smoke. Cellular studies and even some studies in animal models suggest that THC has anti-tumor properties, either by encouraging the death of genetically damaged cells that can become cancerous or by restricting the development of the blood supply that feeds tumors, Tashkin tells WebMD.

University of Colorado molecular biologist Robert Melamede, PhD, concluded that the THC in cannabis seems to lessen the tumor-promoting properties of cannabis smoke. The nicotine in tobacco has been shown to inhibit the destruction of cancer-causing cells, Melamede tells WebMD. THC does not appear to do this and may even do the opposite.

Psychological Benefits

When we balance the autonomic nervous system, there is an effect on the mind that is both energizing and relaxing simultaneously . In other words, we can think more clearly and more efficiently. The following are excerpts from The Benefits of Marijuana:


Natural feelings of expansion that correspond to favorable perceptions, such as a sense of accomplishment, are experiences common to us all, What makes marijuana unique and beneficial is its ability to summon these states of well-being at will. We might suggest that those hundreds of millions of people around the world who face marijuana to experience higher levels of life, do so specifically because of the great import they ascribe to being “ high,” i.e., feeling better, happier, more expansive, and therefore more tolerant and compassionate.

Whereas marijuana results in an “altered state of consciousness,” the depressant drugs have been described as producing “altered states of unconsciousness”, allowing for relaxation without awareness.

Marijuana exposes things. When used over a period of time, it allows us to witness our many subtle motives which, under normal consciousness, are usually not noticeable.

It was just this catalytic effect of marijuana to expose the unconscious and increase the patient’s vulnerability, while maintaining awareness and understanding that prompted psychologists (in the 1960s and 1970s) to utilize marijuana extensively in the therapeutic studies before the government ban.

With the expansiveness that occurs with marijuana, the subject may begin to notice infinite possibilities to raise the quality of his/her life that would otherwise have remained hidden from normal, defensive consciousness. And feelings of health and happiness naturally lead to hope, which of itself can be curative.

Marijuana can act as the loosening agent, so that whatever has been banned from consciousness may come cascading forth. To uncover our deceptions without our usual rationalizations can be unpleasant, an experience that has turned many psychologically fragile individuals away from marijuana despite its therapeutic catharsis.

Regardless of the model used, marijuana resolves conflict by de-emphasizing extreme aggressiveness and stroking the receptive sides of human nature. This unification or balance, however, may be responsible for changes in goals and values. It Is the healthy balancing nature of marijuana that is most beneficial to the individual and most threatening to modern society.

When it first became popular in the West, marijuana was imported mainly from tropical zones, where the sativa strain of cannabis is indigenous. This type of marijuana is known for its “cerebral high,” having little noticeable body participation. No studies concerning the different effects of sativa vs. indica have been done, but from the lack of physical sensation, it is reasonable to assume more Sympathetic or stimulant qualities in sativa than indica (a cooler climate type). This is compatible with the notion that in hotter climates, less calming is desirable from a recreational substance, since hot climates in themselves cause lethargy. Many connoisseurs of marijuana prefer the sativa high, although in the last decade it has become very scarce due to domestic cultivation of strains that thrive in temperate zones (and indoors). “Cerebral highs” are experienced as lightness of thought beyond usual concern with self esteem. In relationships, a cerebral high attunes the participants to a less separate sense of themselves. Conversation is animated and a general feeling of camaraderie is in the air.

The indica strain of cannabis offers more of the “body high.” Depth rather than height best describes the subjective experience. Rather than freedom in the mind, the felt sensation is freedom of the body. This state more closely mimics deep relaxation. Thought patterns do not approach the clarity of thought of a “cerebral high.” In contrast, the “body high” is similar to the reverie that precedes sleep. While thinking may be diminished, more sensitivity to nonverbal experiences, such as music and color, comes into play. Physiologically, a true “body high” probably is the result of more Parasympathetic input. Participants often become quieter, since internal silence predominates.

Indica thrives in temperate areas, and as such it has become more popular with the American marijuana farmer. It is a shorter variety, thus it is more suited for the limits of indoor gardens and comes to fruition earlier in outdoor gardens. In less tropical zones, recreational substances are compatible with tempering the bustle usual to cooler climate cultures. As horticultural interest has grown, a cross between the indica and sativa species of cannabis has given the modern marijuana user the subtleties of both strains. Nowadays quality marijuana, grown in the US, is usually a hybrid of the indica and sativa varieties.

Marijuana will not tolerate repression. Tranquilizers and depressants relax the body and release tension, but the state of mind associated with these drugs is “unconsciousness” whereby we escape rather than resolve our dilemmas. Alcoholism is an extreme need of both the body and personality periodically to release the nervousness that has accumulated and continues to accumulate to an unbearable degree. It serves the same function for the collective personality for the society, as well A culture in which alcohol and tranquilizers are the prevalent form of release prefers not to witness internal confusion and actually choose to act without conscious participation, maintaining a semi-numb condition.

Enhanced Creativity

Cannabis has the ability to significantly increase the creative process and facilitate it. It is largely understood that cannabis is the reason for the majority of the arts that exist today, be they music, art, film, poems, books, or other artistic expressions. The boost in creativity with the help of cannabis is largely unprecedented and seems to have the ability to have individuals to think "outside the box" and explore abstract forms of Reality and interpretations of consciousness in its various forms and states into a medium that is able to be transferable and interpreted by others. An ability that persists with the use of cannabis in creativity is the overstepping of the very literal-minded modes of thought which determine so-called "normal" behavior; it is one thing to carry on a rational conversation about material things with a waitress, but it is quite another to carry that conversation to a land of archetypal symbols and abstract horizons.

To use the example of music as a form of creative expression, in order to derive meaning from music, one must learn to associate musical materials (the tunes, the rhythms, the forms) with super-personal realities - realities for which there are no literally articulated referents. In short, the "normal" terms with which we define ourselves are too restrictive to accommodate the musical state of mind; music requires the literal sense of self to become diffused so that non-definable entities may enter consciousness and register their subtle influence on the intricate interplay of ideas and feelings as they flow beneath the surface of musical events; and this is what cannabis has the ability to do. Everybody likes to climb out of their own skin once in awhile and wander through the shadowy corridors of self; we like to do this because we know that a significant part of our multi-dimensional Self lives in those dark hallways as much as in the sun of rational consciousness.

To illustrate the point of heightened creativity, still using the example of musical harmonics, one of the effects of cannabis on musical perception has to do with how our time perception of reality is altered: in general, when an individual is experiencing cannabis, he or she experiences time as being slowed down. This may be interpreted to mean that our thinking is sped up, perhaps because the diffused ego, becoming one with the mind of the collective unconscious, is freed from the physical limitations of the individual's physical brain. Musical events seem to pass by at a much more leisurely rate, giving a chance to notice all sorts of details which were missed during a situation in which no cannabis was utilized. There is also a higher level of integration of these details into a holistic musical identity which resonates with deeper human significance. Somehow the abstract mind state while experiencing cannabis can take in material that can barely scratch the surface of literal consciousness. All the physical senses are aroused by cannabis such that the experience of all the sensual aspects of music is enhanced - the formal or rhythmic sensation, neuro-motor responses, and, particularly, the sensitivity to sound quality.

The collective artifacts in a piece of creative expression are imbued with an archetypal resonance; but during the a cannabis experience, especially since time is perceived as being decelerated, the subject is allowed to respond on a deeper level to the archetypes, and, furthermore, to make literal connections between the symbols and abstract philosophical or spiritual issues. The cannabis experience of creative forms of expression, therefore, may potentially reveal the infinite positions of awareness of ultimate reality, hidden in the arts, to the individual's regressed mind.

Spiritual Benefits

The spiritual benefits can be thought of in terms of how they have an impact on consciousness. Depending on which way an external stimuli shifts an individual's consciousness, if can be made known as to whether it is of benefit or detriment to the individual. In these times of secular values, when the life force is not recognized as being an expression of The Source, or the collective consciousness of all that is, where in many instances the notion of a plane of existence beyond the material is not acknowledged as real as the dimension of space-time, the search for meaning nevertheless perseveres.

In the present point in linear time, many of those that pursue the journey inward, as well as those that wish to experience Self-Realization, find that the cannabis plant is able to help with this search. As a religious sacrament, cannabis has been utilized for thousands of years, crossing all geographical and ethnic barriers. Cannabis has been shown to not only balance the body, and enhances our mental processes, but also help, at least some individuals, to perceive the abiding reality by raising our consciousness. Feelings of being interconnected to all that exists, in its varying vibrational frequencies, as well as feeling peace, love, and joy are experienced.

The following are excerpts from The Benefits of Marijuana:

Sigmund Freud developed and expounded the understanding that we mechanically base our actions on programs devised throughout life, and many esoteric schools, ancient and modern, have taught the same. Being aware of these programs is very difficult since ordinary consciousness has within it the conspiracy to keep the mind comfortable and free of conflict This operates collectively as well as individually. Whenever confronted, this usual state of mind automatically assumes a defensive posture by relying on distorted rationalizations, which are evident in a repressive and intolerant social order. By contrast, the open and aware consciousness often leads to spiritual realizations, irrelevant in mainstream thinking. In today’s world, this understanding is uncommon. Higher morals and ethics, as propounded by organized religions, are agreed upon by the masses, especially during church attendance, but are otherwise too difficult to maintain when personal survival is at stake. Universal spiritual values, so often released with marijuana, can break down the conditioned defensive mentality.

It appears as if society, as well as the programmed, individual mind, needs to hold in check the notion that we love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no way that we can love our neighbor as ourselves, nor any way that our economy can subscribe to a policy of cooperation, when the very life of business enterprise is dependent upon “profit first and foremost.” Cooperation within free enterprise is a difficult reality so long as “me first” remains the primary motivation. A neurotic society, with its deeply embedded habit of maladaptive coping methods, is resistant to change. Marijuana can be of tremendous benefit in exposing the distorted perspectives responsible for social, class, and racial conflict It can open the “doors of perception,” and thereby after the very core of the personality, by allowing a view of the transcendent values of human life.

In the area of private values, marijuana may offer benefits beyond the personal ego, which reach the dimension referred to by mystics and saints as the ever-present “now.” The experience addresses states of consciousness not common to the common man and resembles Maslow’s “peak experience.”

To ascend the ladder of consciousness, human beings need as much help as they can get. Levels of consciousness above concerns of personal survival and power are neither necessary for human life, nor visible from ordinary states. Because these higher degrees of awareness threaten the power structure, all paths to them are often outlawed. If we are not taught by some older, wiser person that deep and timeless perceptions really exist (or unless we ourselves fortuitously catch a glimpse of these subjective realities), we remain ignorant of their existence and are easily molded into the lower social goals of materialism, competition, and power. This less enlightened state is expressed by a constant gnawing dissatisfaction. It is the dimension of perennial desire. With each fulfillment of a goal /need / want, another void erupts. In Buddhism, it is the realm of nightmarish, insatiable hunger, which cannot be resolved unless or until the being attains to a less self-centered level. Deep within each of us, an essential need for a higher meaning of life waits to be awakened. Because of its ability to unlock this yearning and allow us a glimpse of the deeper reality, marijuana is feared by the establishment and loved by the user.

The Christian mystic de Chardin, explaining this same process, says, “physical energy must be mastered and grounded for spiritual energy to move, because physical energy transforms the spirit.” Within the deep recesses of human understanding, the intuitive faculty steers its course. For many who are in touch with this sixth sense, the realm of the spirit is supreme. Anything that demonstrates a possibility for psycho/spiritual uplifting is known to be sacred.

Many an argument against marijuana refers to the non-competitive nature it engenders. During the Vietnam War, one of the major problems of [US] soldiers was their inability to accept the brutality of their own actions. Our young men encountered marijuana at every turn in Asia, and their reaction was often not in keeping with the insensitivity necessary for war. Their conscience bothered them. Gaining higher values, such as Compassion, cooperation, and consideration, is a function of balance and a threat to a militaristic society. If we all became aware of our conscience, who would be left to maintain the indifference of the social order. The more we uncover the spiritual element in our natures, the more sensitive we become. Scrooge had no conscience until he experienced the spirit. He was surely happier and healthier after his vision, but not wealthier, for his conscience dictated that he share. His new-felt sensitivity did not result from rules, fear, or his superego. It overflowed joyfully as an expression of his higher state of being.

Marijuana’s contribution to the developing spirit is cumulative. As bodily tensions are reduced mental fears dissolve, clearing the way to greater insight. But, until the direct effect (physical balance) of marijuana on the body and the attendant side effect (high) of marijuana on the mind become familiar, the alterations themselves remain the focus of interest The “getting high” is the end in itself, rather than the understanding and insight that accrues as the changed set becomes more a common. People who try marijuana and reject it do so usually because they feel uncomfortable and confused in altered, fuller consciousness. Instead of life being safely framed by the rigidity of the societal dogma, the world becomes unfamiliarly bigger, brighter, fuller, yet less manageable, more unpredictable and full of mystery. A mind that has been bound and accustomed to a low charge or a selling without light very often finds the expansiveness of reality too highly energized. The light can be blinding and disorienting. Over time, and with regular intake, when these higher states of seeing are no longer the focal point of Attention, a restructuring of values may emerge.

Addiction to high energy fields

Although, from the book excerpts provided above, the cannabis plant can be seen as possessing an ability for having spiritually-beneficial results, it should be noted that relying on any external stimuli, which includes cannabis, will not allow an individual to attain Enlightenment, in the true sense. It has been noted by some that when considering any sort of external stimuli, the individual (sometimes called an addict depending on the severity of the desire for the substance) is not addicted to the substance itself, but to a high energy field. The only way they know how to get it is through so-called drugs. What they do is suppress the lower energy fields, so all you feel is your own higher feelings, because the lower ones are sedated. Fear and anger and all those things become sedated due to the drug. Naturally, you feel good because you are only feeling your own higher energy fields. With higher calibrations of consciousness, you begin to let go of the negative and you begin to feel the higher energy fields without the substance. What the person is really addicted to is feeling euphoria, or feeling high, feeling mellow or feeling good. They just do not know how else to reach it except to sedate the animal side of their brain.

Attaining the higher energy fields through substances is a sort of shortcut to higher levels of consciousness. However, as noted previously, this will not allow the individual to attain true Self-realization or enlightenment. A karmic reaction may occur because the individual avoided normal consciousness evolution by attaining it personally and substituted a drug for it. As long as the person is using external agents they will not be able to calibrate at higher levels of consciousness in a perpetual manner. Yes, they will certainly experience levels of consciousness such as love, joy, peace, and perhaps even feel they have become enlightened. However, this feeling will, in most cases, be gone when they come down from their "high". As a reaction to this undesired feeling of not existing at these higher energy levels, the individual will resort to taking the substance again and again, in order to feel those higher levels once more. It is not difficult to see how this can be an issue. When one looks at mystics and yogis, in the present and the past, one can see that they have attained their higher states of consciousness and awareness by practices such as Meditation, Astral Projection, compassion, and others. This is a method that has been proven to provide the individual with a perpetual state of higher awareness and shift to a higher state of consciousness.

Distinguished people who used cannabis

Authors

  • William Shakespeare
  • Carl Sagan
  • Alexander Dumas
  • Helena Blavatsky
  • Jack Kerouac
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Lewis Carroll
  • Ram Dass
  • Robert Anton Wilson
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Stephen King
  • Victor Hugo
  • Zoroaster
  • Mark Twain

Economics and Politics

  • George Soros
  • Mike Bloomberg
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Al Gore
  • John Kerry
  • Jesse Ventura

Mathematics and Technology

  • Bill Gates
  • Steve Jobs
  • Pythagoras

Scientists

  • Richard Feynman

US Presidents

  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Zachary Taylor
  • Franklin Pierce
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • John F Kennedy
  • Bill Clinton
  • George W Bush
  • Barack Obama

Saints

  • Joan of Arc

Royalty

  • Prince Harry
  • Princess Margaret
  • Queen Victoria
  • Sir Richard Branson


References

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