5 Fascinating Discoveries in Cannabis Research

Pot prohibition has been in full swing for almost a hundred years, thanks in part to the anti-cannabis propaganda campaigns of the 20th century. But did you know that there are over 22,000 published and reviewed studies on this tremendously beneficial plant medicine? Below are five compelling pieces of evidence that validate its medical potential and debunk commonly-held myths you should know about.

 

FALSE: Marijuana smoke can cause lung cancer

 

Researchers at UCLA conducted a controlled study involving 1,200 people who previously had lung, neck or head cancer and 1,040 people without any previous cancer diagnoses and matched them up by age, gender and location. Dr. Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist and 30 year marijuana researcher asked subjects extensively about their alcohol, tobacco and marijuana usage. Tashkin and his team even had preconceived notions going into the study stating, “We hypothesize that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.” Furthermore, an article published in the National Institute of Health examines all the scientific data about why cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic, despite warning labels mandated in all medical marijuana dispensaries that state otherwise.

 

TRUE: Smoking Cannabis Assists in Detox From Opiates

 

Conventional wisdom states that those undergoing drug rehabilitation treatment should probably abstain from puffing joints. As it turns out, a double-blind study conducted at New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University found that patients undergoing naltrexone treatment, a common drug prescribed in the management of heroin-dependence, who also smoked marijuana during their outpatient treatment had “significantly lower ratings of insomnia and anxiety.” They also concluded that “participants who elected to smoke marijuana during the trial were more likely to complete treatment.” You heard that correctly: Taking a hit a day helps keep the heroin at bay.

 

FALSE: Pot smokers are Unhealthy and Overweight

 

Despite the fact that smoking marijuana often gives users the “munchies,” consuming cannabis is now related to a decline in diabetes and obesity rates. Researchers cross-referenced data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which compiles information on participant’s lifestyles, and noted changes in these responses as states passed medical marijuana laws. Authors of the study conclude that “the enforcement of Medical Marijuana Laws is associated with a 0.4% to 0.7% reduction in body mass index (BMI) and a 2% to 6% reduction in obesity,” but also noted that changes took place around five years after the implementation of these laws. Overall, the lifestyle changes spanning across different age groups afforded by the passage of MMJ laws directly impacted the population for the better. Younger generations were found to be substituting highly-caloric alcohol consumption with cannabis use and older generations are afforded an increase in mobility, due to pain-management properties of medical marijuana. 23 states down, 27 more to go.

 

TRUE: CBD a Potential Treatment Option for Schizophrenia

 

Did you know that CBD, one of the many therapeutic cannabinoids found in cannabis is an antipsychotic? A preliminary study led by team of researchers at University of Cologne in Germany found that patients suffering from schizophrenia who were treated with CBD over a 4-week trial period made considerable improvements in their symptoms. Additionally, Dr. Daniel Piomelli, co-author of the study noted that “not only was [CBD] as effective as standard antipsychotics, but it was also essentially free of the typical side effects seen with antipsychotic drugs.” The less-than-desirable side effects of common antipsychotic drugs are known to trigger movement disorders, weight gain and loss of motivation, obstructing the overall well-being of those suffering from an already debilitating disorder. Since these results are preliminary, psychiatrists are calling for additional studies to replicate these promising findings.

 

TRUE: Our bodies contain receptors for THC, CBD
Much of the recent research done on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis is because of a discovery made by Dr. Ralph Mechoulam in the 1990’s, of the endocannabinoid system present in all humans. This system contains receptors (CB1, CB2) that function to only accept the cannabinoids our bodies produce and phyto-cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. Just like a lock and key, our physiological makeup works symbiotically with cannabis. CB1 receptors are mostly found in our brains/nervous systems and CB2 receptors are mostly found in our immune system, although both are also found in other organs as well. THC and CBD are specifically “keyed” to connect with these cannabinoid receptors, which is why cannabis has the ability to treat a range of conditions. Interestingly enough, not long after the findings of the endocannabinoid system, the U.S. government filed a patent on cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. This specific discovery is a major key to understanding how this plant can assist in our overall health and well being.

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Author: Evan Thompson

Evan ThompsonWith a proclivity for risk-taking and an intimate knowledge of San Francisco’s landscape, Evan goes the extra mile, shooting images that capture the mystique and majesty of the Bay Area.

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