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5 Medical Conditions You Didn’t Know Cannabis Helped Treat

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Medical marijuana is now legal in 36 states and several U.S. territories. Its medical applications continue to broaden as cannabis becomes a mainstream treatment option in this country. 

With this increased accessibility, marijuana is now being researched and used to treat more medical conditions, and some of these may surprise you.

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Those who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are turning to cannabis for relief. Studies have shown that cannabis can not cure these diseases or stop the symptoms. There have, however, been reports that using marijuana as treatment for the painful symptoms has proven successful.

Is Cannabis Good For Gut Health?
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According to TIME, “patients who used cannabinoids reported significant improvements in abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, appetite and overall well-being.” Cannabis cannot prevent these painful diseases, but when used to relieve the symptoms it can be highly effective.

Epilepsy

Cannabis has shown promise when used to treat some forms of epilepsy, in particular,  more severe types of the disease. Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome are two rare epileptic disorders. Recently the FDA has approved a cannabis-based drug, Epidiolex, to help treat these rarer diseases. 

RELATED: CBD May Offer More Benefits To Epilepsy Patients Than Previously Thought

According to the FDA website, Epidolex is “the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified drug substance derived from marijuana. It is also the first FDA approval of a drug for the treatment of patients with Dravet syndrome.” This marijuana-based drug is used to treat seizures associated with these diseases and has shown marked success. 

Asthma

There is debate as to whether or not marijuana helps or hurts symptoms related to asthma. Smoking any substance is highly detrimental to those who suffer from asthma. Some say that cannabis should be avoided in general if you suffer from asthma. Others have noted some benefits from using cannabinoids to treat symptoms related to asthma.

RELATED: 6 Possible Benefits Of CBD That Doctors Are Studying Right Now

“Taking other forms of the plant that don’t require smoking may potentially benefit people with asthma,” according to Healthline. The research on using cannabinoids to treat asthma is still very new and contested. Time and further research is needed before declaring whether cannabis helps or hurts asthma.

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Alzheimer’s

Alziehmer’s patients have found medical marijuana useful for several reasons. Not onlyt has marijuana has helped Alzeihmer’s patients put much needed weight on, it has also helped curbed the often-agitated moods and behavior that many who suffer from Alzeihmer’s experiences.

RELATED: FDA Approves Expensive Alzheimer’s Drug And Continues To Ignore Cannabis

Additionally, there was a recent study that linked marijuana to slowing a process that may or may not cause the disease itself. “In one cell study, researchers found it slowed the progress of protein deposits in the brain,” wrote CNN. “Scientists think these proteins may be part of what causes Alzheimer’s, although no one knows what causes the disease,” the article continued. 

Multiple Sclerosis

Medical marijuana has proven to be particularly effective in treating symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. “In particular, marijuana appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis (MS), and nerve pain in general,” according to Harvard Medical School’s website

Marijuana is often helpful for symptoms like stiffness, pain and spasms. Other pain drugs for MS can be very strong and can come with equally strong side effects. Cannabis can help relieve pain while not causing severe brain fog or other harsh side effects.



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Alzheimer’s

Doing This May Improve Memory And Delay Alzheimer’s

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A new study conducted on mice shows that a hormone produced by exercise can boost and improve your memory. One of the hormones produced, called irisin, promotes healthy brain development and can improve Alzheimer’s disease in rodents. Previous research conducted on humans shows that they also produce this hormone, and that exercise could curb dementia and memory loss that occurs due to aging.

Published in the NatureJournal, the study was conducted by comparing two groups of mice; one that was unable to produce the irisin and another that produced normal amounts.

RELATED: Eating This 5 Times A Week Can Extend Your Life

5 Memory Boosters That Actually Work
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Mice were instructed to run for a few days, with the mice that produced irisin performing well on rodent tests of memory and learning. Mice that were unable to produce irisin had more issues with performance, confirming the researcher’s theory that irisin is pivotal when it comes to experiencing brain benefits due to working out.

Despite not mentioning how many hours per day the mice ran, the study found that all mice who worked out showed more neurons than usual, with the mice that produced no irisin developing cells that had lower synapses and were overall less effective. Once irisin was introduced to these mice, their performance increased considerably, with rodents of all ages showing boosts in performance, including senior rodents with Alzheimer’s.

RELATED: CBD Slows Onset Of Alzheimer’s, Finds New Medical Study

Exercise has long been associated with brain and memory benefits, but this study is pivotal in understanding why. The hormone irisin plays a key role in terms of benefits experienced via working out. Per the New York Times, the hormone might also be developed as a drug in the near future, helping treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and slowing the decline of brain health.

While there’s still a long way to go in terms of understanding how irisin impacts humans, this study is an important first step in understanding the connection that exists between brain and memory health and working out.



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CBD Slows Onset Of Alzheimer’s, Finds New Medical Study

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Senior citizens are the fastest-growing demographic among cannabis users, and there’s good reason for that.

The elderly population can benefit greatly from cannabis use, because it can help make their golden years more comfortable and pain-free. So it’s no surprise to see that this demographic continues to grow today while in the past they though that the use of cannabis was a bad thing.

The media has helped significantly in spreading awareness of cannabis use among the elderly. In fact, a 2020 poll by CBS revealed that there has been a 250% increase among cannabis use for people ages 65 and up, while those aged 50-65 have also increased use by 58%. And with 5.8 million of the American population living with Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions such as dementia, this almost inevitable stage in their life can use some help.

Treating Dementia With Cannabis: What Patients And Caregivers Should Know
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Alzheimer’s is a common progressive disease among the elderly, which starts out with slight memory loss. Over time, patients end up struggling with carrying on a conversation, and face difficulties with everyday life. If you have parents, it’s one of the things surely no one looks forward to dealing with.

How CBD Helps

Thankfully, there’s more new research supporting how cannabidiol (CBD) can help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s and make managing it simpler.

In March 2021, researchers from the Augusta Georgia Dental College of Georgia conducted a 2-week study with positive results. For the first time in history, they were able to demonstrate that CBD is beneficial in normalizing the level and function of the TREM2 and IL-33 proteins, which are vital in helping the immune systems of the brain eat off dead cells as well as other plaque that builds up in patients with Alzheimer’s. In addition, they found that CBD reduces IL-6 levels, an immune protein that has been linked to high inflammation among patients with this condition, says Dr. Babak Baban, a corresponding author of the study and an immunologist as well as an associate dean for research.

RELATED: Cannabis, Alzheimer’s And Hope Are On The Horizon

“Right now we have two classes of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s,” explains Dr. John Morgan, a study co-author, a neurologist and director for the Movement and Memory Disorder Programs of the MCG Department of Neurology. He says that one classes focuses on increasing acetylcholine, which is also reduced in Alzheimer’s, while another works by improving the NMDA receptors that assist with communication among neurons, and is necessary for memory. “But we have nothing that gets to the pathophysiology of the disease,” he adds.

In their animal study, the mice treatments revealed improved a 7 and 10-fold improvement among IL-33 and TREM2 respectively after they were given high doses every other day for 2 weeks. Aside from that, the mice who were given CBD also had better results in cognitive assessments and movement tests.

5 Marijuana Essentials For Cannabis Caregivers
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Dr. Hesam Khodadadi also says that individuals with Alzheimer’s are prone to movement issues such as an impaired gait or stiffness. But in the mice subjects, movement disorders stopped after they were given CBD.

“There is a dire need for due innovative therapeutic modalities to improve outcomes of AD patients… Our findings suggest that CBD treatment enhanced IL-33 and TREM2 expression, ameliorated the symptoms of AD, and retarded cognitive decline,” says the study.

How Else Cannabis Helps With Alzheimer’s

Other studies have supported the evidence we have today that CBD and other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant can improve quality of life and slow the onset of Alzheimer’s, especially when it comes to targeting inflammation.

In 2016, a study by Salk Institute researchers in California found that CBD among other cannabinoids was beneficial in improving the connection among brain cells in people with dementia. Their findings were validated in the lab too. “Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” explains Professor David Schubert of Salk Institute, the paper’s senior author.

RELATED: FDA Approves Expensive Alzheimer’s Drug And Continues To Ignore Cannabis

The research discovered that high amounts of amyloid beta was linked to inflammation on the cellular level, and neuron death. When the cells were exposed to THC, they found that amyloid beta protein levels were reduced and it also brought down the inflammatory response it caused, improving the survival rates of nerve cells.

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” explains first author Antonio Currais, who is also a postdoctoral researcher for Schubert. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”

Other studies also found that when the body produces our own endocannabinoids, as well as exercise, can be beneficial in slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s.

On top of that, studies indicate that CBD works by reversing the brain’s aging process, which speeds up with Alzheimer’s. They specifically found that CBD has the potential in reversing dementia, though THC may be beneficial too though it can be challenging to treat seniors with THC due to their age.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the research proving how cannabis can help with Alzheimer’s. When compared to all the pharmaceutical medications with side effects, it’s clear that cannabis is the way to go.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.



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FDA Approves Expensive Alzheimer’s Drug And Continues To Ignore Cannabis

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Disclaimer:The views expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Fresh Toast.

It is easy to understand why everyone is desperate for anything that will help with Alzheimer’s Disease. Patients and their families dread its relentless onslaught. Consequently, there was tremendous pressure for the FDA to approve Aduhelm (aducanumab), by Biogen and Eisai.

However, its approval was met with widespread criticism because it is both expensive, with an expected annual price tag of $56,000, but of limited effectiveness.

Treating Dementia With Cannabis: What Patients And Caregivers Should Know
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Aducanumab is taken as an infusion administered in a doctor’s office for one hour every four weeks. That might be difficult for a patients suffering from agitation who might not understand why they are there.

SEE: Doctors Shouldn’t Get Rich From an Unproven Alzheimer’s Drug

The high cost of Biogen’s newly approved and controversial treatment will be compounded by a misguided Medicare policy that incentivizes doctors to prescribe the priciest medicines.

SEE: If The FDA Approves Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Treatment, I Won’t Prescribe ItAND: 3 Experts Have Resigned From An FDA Committee Over Alzheimer’s Drug Approval

Given the level of disagreement among experts, we can only wonder about the process. What is the appropriate role for the FDA?

SEE: Abolish the FDA. The role of the state is to protect rights and guard against fraud, not to prevent people from making risky choices

Of course the FDA, like every government agency, has been subverted to support the Drug War.

SEE: The FDA and Me: Medical Cannabis and Regulatory CaptureAND: Seniors Have Even More Reason To Demand End To Cannabis Prohibition

I have been critical of The American Alzheimer’s Association before (SEE: Does The Alzheimer’s Association Hope We Will Just Forget About CBD?), however, the situation is only marginally better in the U.K. The British Alzheimer’s association does say, “Research does suggest that high concentrations of CBD oil could be useful for managing some of the symptoms of dementia such as agitation and anxiety.”

But they also acknowledged that the “Alzheimer’s Society has never funded research into cannabis and dementia risk, or into cannabis as a potential treatment for dementia symptoms. This is because we have not received any high-quality applications from researchers intending to investigate these issues.”

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The obvious question is “why?” Why has the medical establishment failed to support research on cannabinoid medicine when clearly nothing else has worked?

SEE: The Individual Courage And Collective Cowardice Of The Medical Profession

Also, cannabinoid medicines are of low toxicity. However, according to Dementia Care Central, “Patients taking aducanumab have experienced swelling and bleeding in the brain, a side effect called ‘amyloid-related imaging abnormalities’ (ARIA). Headache, balance problems leading to falls, stomach issues including diarrhea, and disorientation are also possible side effects.

“The swelling or bleeding that comes from ARIA can be monitored via brain scans for people taking aducanumab. The drugmaker recommends MRI scans that detect ARIA before the 7th and 12th infusions, as the problems typically develop in the first 12 to 16 weeks of treatment and are asymptomatic (meaning a person can’t feel them happening). During trials, ARIA was detected in 41% of people taking aducanumab, compared to 10% of those in the control group who did not take the drug.”

Maybe medical cannabis could at least help with the side effects of the FDA-approved pharmaceutical. Ending marijuana prohibition might also help with the other problems associated with aging, like extreme cynicism from having been lied to all our lives.

Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of Study About Cannabidiol’s Impact On The Liver Of Adults.



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