Cannabis May Fight Auto-Immune Diseases

In the 13 years since California passed a law allowing for the medical use of marijuana, a dozen more states, including Washington, have followed suit. Today, all the Pacific states allow people to grow or possess marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, as do several states in the Mountain West, a few in New England and some along the Eastern Seaboard – despite the continued insistence by the federal Food and Drug Administration that the herb is a dangerous drug with no valid medical benefits.

By far, the most widespread support for the move to allow marijuana smoking for medicinal purposes has been on behalf of people with AIDS Wasting Syndrome or on cancer chemotherapy. The chief benefit noted for these patients has had to do with a reduction in nausea and the stimulation of appetite, something anyone who has experienced the “blind raving munchies” can attest to.

Proponents of medical marijuana have not stopped there, however. Advocates cite reports that marijuana can be beneficial in treating a range of illnesses, even though the FDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration provide few, if any, opportunities for researchers to investigate these claims.

One of the least publicized of these claims is that cannabis can be a help for people with Multiple Sclerosis. MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other due to damage of the myelin sheath, an insulating coat around nerve cells that allow them to pass electrical signals. While theories abound for ultimate causes of MS, from genetics to environmental exposure to toxins, it is well understood to be an autoimmune disease. That is, the body’s natural defense systems attack the myelin layers in the brain. In that sense, it is like other chronic conditions, including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.

Recently, indirect evidence has surfaced which could go a long way in explaining the potential for marijuana to improve the outlook for MS patients. Scientists generally believe that marijuana’s high is a result of cannabinols, the active ingredients in the smoke, binding to a receptor on brain cells called CB1 receptors.

In June, Temple University physiologist Ron Tuma and his team released a report on work they have done studying a related receptor known as CB2. The Microvascular Research report reveals that selectively targeting CB2 receptors reduces injury and tissue death after a certain kind of stroke. Additionally, a New Zealand pharmacologist at the University of Auckland, Michelle Glass, recently noted that activating the CB2 receptors can shield neurons from damage, possibly by stopping immune cells in the brain, known as microglia, from triggering an inflammatory response.

Some drug researchers find this particularly exciting because binding proteins to the CB2 receptors does not result in people getting high. How much attention this gets from pharmaceutical companies may depend on how widespread the CB2 receptors are in the body, a matter of some scientific controversy. In the meantime, patients with MS will just have to put up with getting stoned.

– Article from Colors.

Comments

5 Comments

  1. one12alpha on

    One of these days the cure for all cancers, HIV, diabetes, heart disease, etc will be found. It seems more and more so that the cures will be based, in part or in whole, on marijuana’s many compounds. Its getting harder and harder to trust the FDA, as they continue to deny marijuana’s value in medicine, while promoting drugs with insane side effects.

    http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=258024399

    When you consider all the possibilities of hemp in industry; plastics, textiles, food, FUEL. It becomes evident that one day, it will be potheads that save the world from itself…That is, if we can break through the travesty of legislation.

  2. Anonymous on

    I am a SLE (lupus) patient and smoke marijuana every chance I get to releive my pain and symptoms of the disease. It helps more than the prescription Lortab that my doctor prescibes for me, but illeagel her in our state.

  3. Anonymous on

    It was sarcasm, young one.

  4. Anonymous on

    I can attest to the pain relieving affects some marijuana strains have on rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t like opium-derived medications and the NSAID drugs like aspirin and Aleve (naproxen sodium) are basically for low-grade pain. They can also lead to stomach ulcers and other complications when used for extended periods.

    The latest DMARD medications have tons of side effects and are expensive. One such medication is a relabeled chemotherapy drug that is given in smaller doses. The idea being that since the patient’s body is attacking itself with the immune system, the doctors suppress the immune system and make it stop working normally. People are discovering that problems such as cancer and influenza can aggressively take hold due to body defenses basically being shut down. Those who try to take flu shots occasionally don’t have any reaction (lack of antibodies) or end up with something they can’t get rid of easily (eg. nasal spray – weakened live virus).

    Unlike the author states, pain relief doesn’t generally require people to get stoned. Pain relief amounts don’t equal crawling on the floor doses for most people. I have done tests involving motor functions, memory, math calculations (binary too), and reaction speed games. All were normal when medicated and some where even enhanced due to no longer concentrating on the pain all the time.

    During my tests, marijuana not only relieved pain for multiple hours on small doses, it gave me part of my life back. Allowing me to type on a keyboard without pain and discomfort. Allowing me to play guitar again if desired. Allowing me to move around like normal and get things done. Of equal importance, it allowed me to get a good night’s sleep which is very difficult when hands, forearms, and knees ache and feel like the tissue inside is on fire.

  5. Anonymous on

    “Patients with MS will just have to put up with getting stoned.”

    What a stupid comment ! Most MS patients I’ve heard of get relief from the pain in the warm high from marijuana. Geeze..