Fibromyalgia Pain Reduced By Marijuana-Based Drug

journalpain-cover-marijuanaPatients with fibromyalgia treated with a synthetic form of marijuana, nabilone, showed significant reductions in pain and anxiety, according to a first-of-its-kind study, published in The Journal of Pain.

An estimated 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia and the disease syndrome has no cure and is difficult to diagnose. The disease is characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain and myriad other symptoms and the condition is far more prevalent in women and the incidence increases with age, reaching 7 percent among women 65 years and older.

Forty subjects were selected for the nabilone trial, conducted by researchers at the University of Manitoba Rehabilitation Hospital and divided into nabilone and placebo groups and were treated for four weeks. It was noted by the authors that this was the first randomized, controlled-access trial for evaluating nabilone for pain reduction and quality-of-life improvement in fibromyalgia patients. Nabilone is one of two oral marijuana-based compounds, known as cannabinoids, which is available in Canada and approved for treatment of nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.

Nabilone has significant benefits for pain relief and functional improvement in fibromyalgia patients, the study concluded. The drug was well-tolerated by treated patients that the authors characterized as reassuring since fibromyalgia patients are sensitive to most medications and have difficulty tolerating side effects.

Reference:
American Pain Society

Medical Marijuana To Be Legalized By New Jersey

welcome-to-new-jersey hempAccording to the New York Times, the New Jersey Legislature approved a measure that would make the state the 14th in the nation, but one of the few on the East Coast, to legalize the use of marijuana to help patients with chronic illnesses.

The measure – which would allow patients diagnosed with severe illnesses like cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis to have access to marijuana grown and distributed through state-monitored dispensaries – was passed by the General Assembly and State Senate on the final day of the legislative session.

The law would forbid people from growing their own marijuana, license ‘alternate treatment centers’ to dispense the drug, and require designated caretakers who retrieve the drug on behalf of a severely ill person to undergo criminal background checks.

Reference:

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Ingredients Of Marijuana Show Promise In Battling Superbugs

Journal of Natural Products  marijuanaScientists in Italy and the United Kingdom have reported that substances in marijuana show promise for fighting deadly drug-resistant bacterial infections, including so-called “superbugs,” without causing the drug’s mood-altering effects.

The substances, besides serving as infection-fighting drugs, could also provide a more environmentally-friendly alternative to synthetic antibacterial substances now widely used in personal care items, as per the researchers. The study appeared in an issue of ACS’ monthly Journal of Natural Products.

Giovanni Appendino and colleagues, in the study, pointed out that scientists have known for years that marijuana includes antibacterial substances but little research has been done on those ingredients, including studies on their ability to fight antibiotic resistant infections.

Researchers tested five major marijuana ingredients termed cannabinoids on different strains of a “superbug” increasingly resistant to antibiotics, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). All the five ingredients demonstrated potent germ-killing activity against these drug-resistant strains, as did some synthetic non-natural cannabinoids. It was also revealed that these substances appear to kill bacteria by different mechanisms than conventional antibiotics, making them more likely to avoid bacterial resistance.

Reference:

“Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure-Activity Study”

Giovanni Appendino, Simon Gibbons, Anna Giana, Alberto Pagani, Gianpaolo Grassi, Michael Stavri, Eileen Smith, and M. Mukhlesur Rahman

Same Level Of THC and Fewer Toxins with Marijuana Vaporizer

marijuana-vaporizerAccording to researchers from the University of California San Francisco, a smokeless cannabis-vaporizing device delivers the same level of active therapeutic chemical and produces the same biological effect as smoking cannabis.

Results of a UCSF study that focuses on delivery of the active ingredient delta-9-tertrahydrocannibinol, or THC, are reported in the online issue of the journal “Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.”

“We showed in a recent paper in the journal ‘Neurology’ that smoked cannabis can alleviate the chronic pain caused by HIV-related neuropathy, but a concern was expressed that smoking cannabis was not safe. This study demonstrates an alternative method that gives patients the same effects and allows controlled dosing but without inhalation of the toxic products in smoke,” said study lead author Donald I. Abrams, MD, UCSF professor of clinical medicine.

The team of researchers looked at the effectiveness of a device that heats cannabis to a temperature between 180 and 200 degrees C, just short of combustion, which occurs at 230 degrees C. Eighteen individuals were enrolled as inpatients for six days under supervision in the General Clinical Research Center at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center. The participants received three different strengths of cannabis on different days by two delivery methods–smoking or vaporization–three times a day, under the study protocol.

THC plasma concentrations were measured along with the exhaled levels of carbon monoxide, or CO, which served as a marker for the many other combustion-generated toxins inhaled when smoking.

“Using CO as an indicator, there was virtually no exposure to harmful combustion products using the vaporizing device. Since it replicates smoking’s efficiency at producing the desired THC effect using smaller amounts of the active ingredient as opposed to pill forms, this device has great potential for improving the therapeutic utility of THC,” said study co-author Neal L. Benowitz, MD, UCSF professor of medicine, psychiatry and biopharmaceutical sciences.

Benowitz added that pills tend to provide patients with more THC than they need for optimal therapeutic effect and increase side effects.

“By a significant majority, patients preferred vaporization to smoking, choosing the route of delivery with the fewest side effects and greatest efficiency,” said Benowitz.

Co-authors include Cheryl A. Jay, MD, UCSF neurology; and Starley B. Shade, MPH; Hector Vizoso, RN; and Mary Ellen Kelly, MPH, UCSF Positive Health Program at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.

The study was funded by the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

Reference:

University of California – San Francisco