Oncologists Should Recommend Cannabis-Based Medicine for Palliative Care
Earlier this June, a review was published that encourages oncologists to recommend cannabis products to their patients as a safe and effective method of palliative care. The opinion piece highlights how cannabis is a useful treatment for a variety of illnesses (nausea, vomiting, sleep, mood, anxiety), and encourages practitioners to prescribe cannabis for their patients so that they can appreciate the safety and effectiveness of the product.
Regulators and mechanisms of anoikis in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)- a review
Researchers are always exploring new methods to treat highly aggressive forms of breast cancer. As the scientific culture opens up to cannabis as a natural pharmaceutical factory, eyes have been drawn to the individual chemical components born inside cannabis, namely cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoid compounds. Recently, a group stumbled upon a promising synthetic flavonoid derivative. This derivative, named GL-V9, has been found to have an inhibitory effect on the growth of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) tumors and has shown other anti-metastatic properties. The growth-stopping and anti-spreading effects would address two of the central aspects of TNBC that have thus far made it difficult to treat. The growing understanding of flavonoids and their potential therapeutic benefits seem all but sure to enshrine its place among future research regarding cancer treatments.
Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:
In scientific and medical circles, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase, “everything causes cancer.” It’s often repeated contemptuously, a tongue-in-cheek expression that calls attention to unknowns associated with the spawning and growth of cancers but also bends to the hurricane force of nature’s impact on living organisms. As living biology, cancers are born and thrive while provided sustenance by particular inputs and supports. Because of this fact, there are also innumerable opportunities to stifle or prevent the birth of tumors and many avenues to interrupt its growth or end the life of cancer cells.
The human cultural history has taught all cultures that sleep, exercise, fruits, vegetables, fiber, and water are all required ingredients for sustained, healthy growth. What is it about fruits and veggies that is healthy? They have fiber that is healthy for the human digestive tract, but they also have natural components, terpenes and flavonoids, which support wellness, healing, and the normal cycling (features of both living and dying) of our cells. Cancer represents the inappropriate over-replication of cells. In a sense, the body’s natural ability to end the cells which are not responding to normal signals is lost. If we know that the cannabis factory happens to produce many of the same compounds that are found elsewhere in vegetation and fruits, is it so surprising that we would see cancer-fighting effects?
Plant-derived coumarins shape the composition of an Arabidopsis synthetic root microbiome
While investigating plant molecules that inhibit parasitic growth, researchers have uncovered a new method for improving crop growth and overall yield. Small molecules, such as flavonoids and coumarins, improve the microbiome of plant roots in order to help them grow and maintain their health. While investigating how the absence of coumarins and flavonoids affect the growth of a common weed the authors stumbled upon a molecular mechanism that will facilitate efforts to grow crops in iron-deficient soils.
Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:
The natural machinery of Cannabis supports the production of tremendous numbers of flavonoids, coumarins, and microbiome-supporting compounds. Over millennia, cannabis has evolved fastidious attention to detail, and an integral role in the animal ecosystem. Although this natural role has historically been disagreeable to many oppressive movements (religious and cultural), it is nonetheless, self-evident as modern society returns to embrace the science of cannabis. The scientific, medical, textile, farming, nutrition, recreational, and materials construction industries are all wishing only that they had come back to cannabis sooner.
A popular (and welcome) take on the vaping situation is coming out to support medical consumers as a type of victim of the circumstances. There is a level of scientific understanding that is a necessary, and still incomplete, part of the discussion. For example, some of the dominant methods of lab testing for cannabis (plate culturing) are based on food safety protocols that are generations old, incorporates a system of understanding that is not the only means of testing or understanding (genetic sequencing, for instance) and, while we have learned a great deal mastering the current testing, we may be missing important safety concerns.
Another critical area of growth at hand is the clinical understanding of the implications of mainstream cannabis consumption. We have some information, but there is always more yet to learn. In order for Cannabis Medicine to catch up with the accomplishments and accolades of modern Medicine, we must overcome generations (and engrained systems) of academic road-blockages. Still more stands in the way of a well-oiled, safe cannabis-consuming culture, and that is reproducibility of clean product and the assurance that a consume is obtaining (and consuming) clean, safe product. These are solved, perhaps with regulatory oversight and technology, either within the public or private sectors.
For example, one of the elements of the current medical market that is still in need of close inspection and consideration is the potential contamination of vaporized products related to the construction materials of vapor technology itself. Devices are often made with metal solder which can contain and propel cadmium and/or other metals that are unhealthy for consumption. Similarly, heated plastics and other construction materials may be unsuitable as conduits for consumption by inhalation.
Nevertheless, it is wonderful to see public interest and discussion on this subject, which seems to touch on never common to many. Open-minded discussion, incorporating differing viewpoints will help us all grow to become a healthier and safer, cannabis-consuming culture.
Cannabis testing uses the same tech that has been used for ages. There are great benefits and lessons learned, relative to newer options, but also many concerns w/ this dominant technology and enticing benefits to the alternative, genetic testing.
Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabis testing: Plating vs genetic testing
Restored Self: A Phenomenological Study of Pain Relief by Cannabis
In an Israeli qualitative study investigating the impact of cannabis use on chronic pain patients, all but one of the nineteen study participants experienced pain relief after cannabis use. Participants explained how cannabis allowed them to not just discontinue medications treating their pain, but also medications treating secondary outcomes of their pain, such as poor sleep and anxiety. Patients described feeling “a sigh of relief,” being “reborn” or being saved by cannabis use after years of debilitating pain and medication side effects.
Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:
The pathway through which cannabis works to combat pain is different from the usual pathways doctors have used for the last 90 years. Prior to the 1930s, cannabis was used routinely, just about everywhere, but political and social agendas kidnapped the medicine and hid it away from most of the mainstream and from routine medical education.
Patients often describe typical pain relievers as adjusting the impact of the pain. Reducing or quieting the pain, softening discomfort, allowing the sufferer to perform previously typical tasks without debilitation or dysfunction. Cannabis, on the other hand, is sometimes described as “taking the sufferer away from the pain,” rather than the other way around. The effects that cannabis can have on the reduction of inflammation, attention, memory, and relaxation, provide a new type of opportunity for relief.
Still, other patients describe the effects of cannabis through a lens of mental focus. Whereas in daily use we typically open a standard set of drawers, some have said, the use of cannabis allows the consumer to open up a different set of draws, and through this adjusted lens, to see discomfort from a different perspective.
For those suffering with chronic pain, years upon years of discomfort, suffering that, when paired with modern medicines, has only met frustration and further discomfort, cannabis is frequently seen as a welcome “sigh of relief.”
Regulation of noradrenergic and serotonergic systems by cannabinoids: relevance to cannabinoid-induced effects
Among many system-wide interactive effects, the noradrenergic and serotonergic hormone/signaling systems are responsible for pain, mood, arousal, wakefulness, learning, anxiety, and feelings of reward. A recent review dives deeper into the interactions between cannabinoids and these two systems: cannabinoids play roles in exciting, inhibiting, and regulating the nerve activity and feedback of both the noradrenergic and serotonergic systems. This data further underscores the therapeutic potential of cannabis for conditions such as depression, chronic pain, and insomnia, all of which are mediated, at least in part, by these systems. Further research may uncover more specific therapies targeted toward the noradrenergic and serotonergic systems and their interactions with cannabinoids.
Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:
It would be shocking to imagine that, in addition to the usual fruits and vegetables on display at supermarkets, all of a sudden, there was a new category of healthy food. Similarly, the recognition that cannabinoids play a central role in animal physiology is embarrassingly recent. Surveying a sea of illnesses that have become increasingly common, over the last hundred years, before which cannabis was a common household product, also begs the question about a relationship between the circumstances. Might some of the common maladies of modern medicine be attributable to a cannabinoid deficiency syndrome?
Pre- and postnatal tobacco and cannabis exposure and child behavior problems: Bidirectional associations, joint effects, and sex differences
Prenatal maternal cannabis and tobacco use is predictive of behavioral problems among toddlers. Resulting differences from control groups include anxiety, depression, and attention problems. Female children of mom’s consuming substances, in particular, seem to be more susceptible to problems relating to internalization, attention, and sleep. Additionally, the behavioral problems induced by prenatal cannabis and tobacco consumption often lead to further maternal substance consumption, which frequently exacerbates existing behavioral problems.
Title: Medicinal versus Recreational Cannabis Use among Returning Veterans
A recent study found significant mental and physical health differences between veterans who use cannabis that they label as “medicinal” use versus those who prefer to label their use as “recreational.” Veterans who feel that they are self-medicating with cannabis, in what they believe fits more closely with a “medical” label are five times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nearly four times more likely to suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, and are more likely to experience Insomnia, or trouble sleeping. Furthermore, a majority of veterans medicating with cannabis suffer from conditions that qualify them to receive a medical marijuana registration card. Even so, they tend to refrain from discussing their interest in access with their doctors, out of fear of losing their valuable VA benefits.
Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:
Over the years, countless veterans have valiantly and courageously dedicated themselves to missions of support for their fellow men, women, and country. In preparation, training, service, battle, leadership, education, and so many other ways, veterans have given back to their culture in a way few others can. The understanding that they may be shunned by their culture for seeking help, related to the suffering they may have experienced while serving their country, is unconscionable. It is shameful that the government and military have not appreciated and supported the easy opportunity to give back to our veterans, and it is long overdue that the culture gives back to those who have given a piece of themselves so that others may share the liberties they have served to uphold.
Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents
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.