By Paul Armentano
Marijuana Use Is Associated With Decreased Mortality In TBI Patients
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with a history of cannabis use possess increased survival rates compared to non-users, according data published this month in the journal American Surgeon. UCLA Medical Center investigators conducted a three-year retrospective review of brain trauma patients. Data from 446 separate cases of similarly injured patients was assessed. Of those patients who tested positive for the presence of marijuana, 97.6 percent survived surgery. By contrast, patients who tested negative for the presence of pot prior to surgery possessed only an 88.5 percent survival rate.
“Previous studies conducted by other researchers had found certain compounds in marijuana helped protect the brain in animals after a trauma,” the study’s lead author said in a press release. “This study [is] one of the first in a clinical setting to specifically associate THC use as an independent predictor of survival after traumatic brain injury.”
CBG Administration Halts Cancer Progression
The administration of the nonpsychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG) possesses potent anti-colon cancer activities and inhibits cancerous tumor growth, according to data published in September in the journal Carcinogenesis. A team of Italian researchers at the University of Naples assessed the effects of CBG on colon tumorigenesis. Investigators reported that the compound promoted apoptosis (cancer cell death) and reduced cell growth in colorectal cancer cells. CBG dosing also inhibited colorectal tumor growth in animals. Authors concluded: “CBG hampers colon cancer progression in vivo and selectively inhibits the growth of colorectal cancer cells. … CBG should be considered translationally in colorectal cancer prevention and cure.”
Parkinson’s Patients Respond Favorably to Cannabis Therapy
Patients with Parkinson’s disease report significant improvement following cannabinoid therapy. Writing in September in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, investigators at the University of São Paulo in Brazil reported on the efficacy of the plant cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) versus placebo in 21 subjects with Parkinson’s. Authors reported that the administration of 300 mg doses of CBD per day was associated with “significantly different mean total scores” in subjects’ well-being and quality of life compared to placebo.
The Brazilian study is the second paper in recent months specific to the potential healing effects of cannabinoids in PD patients. In April, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel reported that the inhalation of whole-plant improves various symptoms of PD in a cohort of 22 subjects. Marijuana use was associated with “significant improvement after treatment in tremor, rigidity, and bradykinsea (slowness of movement),” authors reported in the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology. They added: “There was also significant improvement of sleep and pain scores. No significant adverse effects of the drug were observed.”
Marijuana Use Mitigates Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal
Cannabis consumption is associated with reduced symptoms of opiate withdrawal in subjects undergoing methadone maintenance treatment, according to recent findings published in The American Journal on Addictions. Investigators at the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia assessed the use of cannabis in 91 opiate-dependent subjects undergoing methadone maintenance treatment. Authors reported that subjects’ pot use during treatment was associated with less severe symptoms of withdrawal on the clinical opiate withdrawal scale (COWS), an index designed to serve as an objective measure of opiate withdrawal. “[I]ncreased cannabis use was found to be associated with lower severity of [opiate] withdrawal in a subset of the sample with available chart data,” authors concluded. “These results suggested a potential role for cannabis in the reduction of withdrawal severity during methadone induction.”
Inhaled Cannabis Facilitates Disease Remission In Patients With Crohn’s Disease
Inhaling cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn’s disease compared to placebo in patients who have not been responsive to conventional pharmaceutical therapies, according to clinical trial data published recently in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Researchers at the Meir Medical Center, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Israel assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis versus placebo over a period of eight weeks in 21 subjects with treatment-resistant Crohn’s disease. Investigators reported, “Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn’s Disease and activity index) scores.” Five of the eleven patients in the study group also reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient’s CDAI score by more than 150 points). Overall, inhaled cannabis treatment was associated with “no significant side effects.”
Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (Chelsea Green, 2009).