Arthritis

Extensive Cannabis Studies Underway Globally

Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents

In Summary:

As of 2016, upwards of 60 clinical trials relating to the use of medical cannabis were in progress. The scope of clinical trials included conditions such as anxiety, cocaine dependence, infantile spasms, schizophrenia, solid tumor, and many more. The status of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, under the Controlled Substance Act, limits researchers’ ability to freely collect data if they require support from NIH funding. While there are opportunities for researchers to study cannabis and its derivatives with the support of private funds, this typically risks an appearance of sacrificed scientific integrity and independence. Very few private entities would condone research which might shed an unfavorable light on their products. On the other hand, current NIH-funded research requires the use of the national supply of cannabis, a crop well-known to be very limited in quality. Increasingly, more states have been legalizing the medical and recreational use of cannabis in recent years, allowing scientists with more opportunities for private funding in which to shed more light on the vast medicinal benefits of cannabis. Animal models and human trials have pointed toward clinical applications of medical cannabis including anxiety, nausea, seizures, and inflammation, although the array of competing and synergistic compounds within the plant seem to continually open new doors to relief from a large array of illnesses.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDExtensive Cannabis Studies Underway Globally
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Pre-clinical Evidence for Analgesic Effects of Cannabis Doesn’t Match Human Trial Results

Current evidence of cannabinoid-based analgesia obtained in preclinical and human experimental settings

In Summary:

Pre-clinical animal models of pain provide a wealth of data supporting the pain-relief capabilities of cannabis; however, reproducing this data in human clinical trials has proved difficult. Data from the animal pre-clinical trials point to cannabinoids reducing stress responses and pain-evoked stress, desensitizing pain receptors, and increased pain sensitivity in animals that lack cannabinoid receptors. However, human trials present conflicting results: several studies have shown dose-dependent relationships, and in the current review this was experienced by many participants, wherein lower and medium doses provided pain relief, but higher doses triggered increased sensitivity to pain. Controlled studies may show a lack of impressive pain relief effects, personal reports of pain relief associated with cannabis use are nearly universal in retrospective reports. This suggests that there may be an important effect on well-being or mood, rather merely sensory pain. Furthermore, the relieving effects of cannabis appear to impact men and women differently.

Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:

Additionally, much of pain relief is subjective, in both sensation, description, and inside the study environment. The description of pain varies from person to person, and researchers may be asking the wrong questions to the right people or the right questions to the wrong people. In fact, a growing perspective is that this mismatch may be more common and more pronounced than previously recognized. The makeup of pain is also quite complicated. For instance, a limb might hurt, but if there is swelling or tenderness nearby, those may amplify the discomfort. How can we take the full picture into account in the form of helpful data points? What of the emotional or psychological impacts of pain? Is it even possible that such things can be fully understood, let alone measured reliably? Assuming that emotional phenomenon or stress/suffering can be conveyed to research scientists, how can we ever hope to compare one person’s experience to another’s? For example, one would imagine that frustration associated with the pain experienced by a venerable world war veteran, who has previously endured tremendous and complex pains and associated psychological trauma may be quite different from someone who has never experienced a particular pain before.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDPre-clinical Evidence for Analgesic Effects of Cannabis Doesn’t Match Human Trial Results
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Informing Doctors and Patients on Cannabis Use for Pain

Paper Title: Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review

Although results from many bench-scientific and preclinical animal trials support the use of medical cannabis for pain management, there is not yet an equal body of evidence in human clinical trials. However, this is, in part, due to the fact that, despite millennia of accounts supporting the use of cannabis to treat a large number of medical concerns, in the shorter history of cannabis research, the number of controlled, double-blind, placebo studies are limited, and to some points of view, may not even be possible. Additionally, in an era where increasingly more patients request cannabis therapy from their clinicians, health professionals are catastrophically undereducated on the topic. Furthermore, given the status of the modern opioid crisis, there is a growing need for alternative pain management strategies: states with medical marijuana laws experience significantly fewer opioid-related deaths than states lacking them. Additional research could reduce these deaths further and provide viable alternatives for patients seeking pain management when other therapies have failed. 

Below are interesting clippings from this article, points that are either described eloquently or bring a welcome addition to the ongoing discussion:

Benjamin Caplan, MDInforming Doctors and Patients on Cannabis Use for Pain
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Psychiatric Disorders Reduce Survival Among Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Disease Patients

Psychiatric comorbidity increases mortality in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases

Summary Information:

A new study finds that a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, and/or bipolar disorder increases mortality rates for patients of one of three immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMID):

1) multiple sclerosis (MS), or

2) inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or

3) rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Depression and bipolar disorder can cause poor health behaviors in patients, as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders are “associated with increased inflammation and immune dysregulation.” Suicide risk and attempts are increased among IMID patients with mental illness, compared with IMID patients who are not also suffering from one of these additional battles. Given that cannabis has shown promise in treating both inflammation and a range of psychiatric disorders, there is reason to be optimistic for further cannabis research to uncover multifunctional treatment options.  

Dr Caplan and the #MDTake:

Clinically, it’s rare to see medical patients who have only one concern. Sure, there are some who are hoping that cannabis will help them to treat seizures, headaches, anxiety, sleep troubles, or terrible back pain, but more often, it is a combination of several troubles that each add to a cumulative tipping point.

Naturally, very few individual systems act alone. When a body part is injured, sleeping (or not sleeping) effects the course of illness. Similarly, feeling less anxious, or improving sleep, may make symptoms of a struggle with consistent headaches seem more tolerable. Even when there aren’t direct connections between symptoms, a treatment which implements a systemic treatment can have multiplied benefits.

Many patients have found that cannabis offers them a way to attack more than one problem, with a single actor. Some with Diabetes are finding that some formulations are not only helping them reduce blood sugar levels, but also reducing appetite. Similarly, some patients with ADD are turning to cannabis options which may help them focus, without their ability to get to sleep at night.

To a related note, many elderly patients are treated with too many medications. Modern Western medical treatment often compels patients into silos of treatments by isolated specialists, who are not always monitoring the patient as a being beyond individual organ systems. Medications, such as cannabis, which have the opportunity to treat more than one system, without multiplying the risk of potential drug-drug interactions presents a much safer approach to care

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Benjamin Caplan, MDPsychiatric Disorders Reduce Survival Among Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Disease Patients
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California veterinarians & Cannabis

Vets in CA can now discuss the use of cannabis for patients and their pets legally and soon, prescribe cannabis medication. Although there is still more much research to be done, adults can already legally buy products, so involving professional vets can help keep pets safe http://bit.ly/33dmbIK

Benjamin Caplan, MDCalifornia veterinarians & Cannabis
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Medical Marijuana Offers Benefits Comparable to Prescription Medication, Without the Side Effects

Title: Preferences for Medical Marijuana over Prescription Medications Among Persons Living with Chronic Conditions: Alternative, Complementary, and Tapering Uses

In a survey of 30 patients using medical cannabis for a range of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, hepatitis C, PTSD, among others, patients reported an array of benefits they have reaped from cannabis use. Patients successfully used cannabis in several ways: as an alternative to prescription medication, complementarily with prescription medicine, and to gradually replace use of prescription medication.

Benefits described by participants included the effects of cannabis lasting longer than that of opioids, lower risk of addiction, fewer side-effects. Patients also saw their sleep, anxiety, appetite, and adverse reactions improve with the use of medical cannabis. Larger, more controlled studies may suggest cannabis more affirmatively as an alternative or complementary therapy with prescription medications.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDMedical Marijuana Offers Benefits Comparable to Prescription Medication, Without the Side Effects
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Video: Do-It-Yourself Cannabis Tinctures

One of the terrific realities of modern Cannabis is that it is possible, and often quite simple, to make effective products at home. With suitable education and access to testing facilities, the soil, nutrients, and plant growth can be supported at home, lab-tested for make-up and potency, as well as safety-checked for potential microscopic contaminants, and ultimately, individualized medicine can be created right at home!

Here is a sample instructional for just one way that cannabis tincture can be made at home. There are countless others and hopefully, many that are yet to be discovered!

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Benjamin Caplan, MDVideo: Do-It-Yourself Cannabis Tinctures
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Student-Athletes are at an Increased Risk for Binge Drinking and Substance Use

Title: Psychological correlates and binge drinking behaviours among Canadian youth- a cross-sectional analysis of the mental health pilot data from the COMPASS study

A recent study has examined data from the COMPASS program and found that student-athletes in Canada were more likely to engage in binge-drinking and illicit substance use. Researchers focussed on the measure of flourishing, defined as an overall healthy mental state and emotional connectedness, and how flourishing related to concerning drinking and substance use behavior. Student-athletes were found to be the most at risk for binge-drinking, defined as consuming 5 or more drinks in a single session, and those more likely to binge-drink were also more likely to co-use illicit substances. This research provides evidence for the formation of targeted prevention programs.

Cannabis use is banned among athletes by most sports organizations. Cannabis appeals to athletes considering the many different consumption methods, allowing discreet consumption and personalization with variable potential opportunities for relief. Cannabinoids are generally naturally occurring substances unless clearly manufactured, and have been shown to be beneficial for post-workout recovery, muscle soreness, anxiety, sleep, and relaxation. All of those symptoms, including the emotionally driven ones, are common among student-athletes who often feel an immense amount of pressure to perform in competition. As in most other areas of modern culture, Cannabidiol (CBD) finds itself in a grey area for most sports organizations’ substance regulations given that it is not intoxicating and readily available with a notable safety profile. Even if cannabis is not federally legal, CBD is so widely available that many athletes are embracing it, in lieu of more dangerous, or potentially addictive, medications.

Tweet: A recent study has examined data from the #COMPASS program and found that #studentathletes in Canada were more likely to engage in #binge-drinking and illicit substance use. Read this and other linked studies:

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Benjamin Caplan, MDStudent-Athletes are at an Increased Risk for Binge Drinking and Substance Use
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Video: Cannabinoids and autoimmune diseases: A systematic review

This literature review summarizes the findings on the role of cannabis in treating autoimmune diseases. Cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties when treating rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, type 1 diabetes, IBD, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia. Below is a video adaptation of “Cannabinoids in Rheumatoid Arthritis.” 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDVideo: Cannabinoids and autoimmune diseases: A systematic review
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Cannabis is a Safe and Effect for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia

Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia 

A recent study has concluded that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for patients suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, and issues sleeping. Cannabis is well known for its ability to treat pain, especially in lieu of opioids as the side effects are minimal and the risk of addiction minimal. This study found that over 200 patients were greatly benefited by cannabis as it moderated their pain and improved their mood. Future studies should aim to directly compare cannabis-based treatment with the currently accepted methods of fibromyalgia treatment to validate efficacy. 

This study highlights how beneficial cannabis can be for those patients who are treatment-resistant for the general treatment of most disorders, especially when pain is involved. Cannabis has been proven to be much safer than opioids, and yet our lack of complete information, concerning the exact mechanisms of the endocannabinoid system and how different cannabinoids act on those mechanisms severely limits our ability to offer practical, novel therapies. Cannabis has previously been shown to be beneficial for treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy and depression, which holds promise when continuing to look for novel treatments for other disorders that have proven difficult to treat. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabis is a Safe and Effect for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia
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