Self Health Care

Articles about alternative ways of treatment and self health care

What’s in a name? What about cannabis?

On 15th July, the Federation of European Pharmacological Societies Congress began a discussion of the medicinal role of cannabis. It is routinely used for controlling nausea among patients on chemotherapy and for encouraging appetite among AIDS patients. It is now licensed for the control of neuropathic pain in adults suffering from cancer and multiple sclerosis. So medical science has been able to strip away the “unwanted” psychoactive symptoms and use the cannabinoid components to target the specific diseases. Why does this work? Because the human body naturally produces cannabinoids and has cannabinoid receptor cells in all parts. Science is now designing medications that focus on the parts of the body affected by disease and not the central nervous system. So, for example, when the body is injured cannabinoids are naturally released in the affected area and reduce pain. Unfortunately, the effect is very short-lived. Thus, research is now aiming to produce more medications that maintain cannabinoid levels in the affected areas for pain relief and for the control of anxiety and depression. The converse treatments are also working well for dealing with nicotine addiction and obesity. One of the problems with cannabis is that is tends to be addictive and it causes the “munchies”, i.e. it encourages users to eat more. So, medications like acomplia that block the cannabinoid receptors help to reduce addictive behavior and reduce appetite. Acomplia is now a front line treatment for obesity in Europe, second in effectiveness only to the use of gastric bands or surgical bypasses (which reduce weight by an average of 30%). The July conference heard news that one constituent of cannabis, THVC, may offer a better way to reduce appetite than acomplia and, more importantly, may be effective to treat neurodegenerative disorders like Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Why is more not heard about these advances? Possibly because of the prejudice that cannabis is a drug that should be banned. It is a shame society cannot see beyond a name to the good results science can produce. By coincidence, the French health authority Afssaps also released new statistics confirming the safety profile of acomplia in relation to depression. People with no history of depression show no adverse symptoms. Others only show an increase in depression at the beginning of a course of treatment. This can easily be monitored and compensated for.

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