Marijuana (proper name Cannabis) has been used for medical purposes for over 12,000 years. Ancient historical pharmaceutical texts dating back some 2,000 years detail the wide variety of uses for this plant that grows throughout the world. Medical uses of cannabis are only now being rediscovered after some eighty years of prohibition in the United States. Canada and Western Europe are advancing quickly in the provision of laws to allow for medical cannabis and new classes of pharmaceuticals based on cannabinoids.
This guide to common medical uses for cannabis is not meant in any way to be medical advice. AAMC cautions all patients and their families to speak candidly with their primary care and/or consulting physician. No medicine, including cannabis, can replace what should be a healing relationship with a licensed health professional. Cannabis is not a “miracle” drug or cure, just an extremely helpful medicine for a wide variety of illnesses.
Today, adjunctive therapy with cannabis is helping patients to cope with the symptoms of diseases and disorders from MS and chronic pain to arthritis and bi-polar disease. The list keeps growing as more research is conducted. Adjunctive therapy means an “additional” or ancillary therapy. Cannabis is not intended to replace primary medical treatments but to compliment them.
In these pages we will provide overview summaries of common ailments for which our members, families, and the scientific literature indicate that cannabis may be of real help. Remember, this is not medical advice. Cannabis alone, self administered, to the exclusion of comprehensive medical care may actually mask illness or prolong delays in seeking appropriate medical assistance.
Even worse, some folks may think that cannabis is just great for any disease or disorder. The problem is, though, that every individual responds to cannabis differently depending upon their age and illness, their unique genetics, the setting in which cannabis is utilized, the particular strain, composition, and strength of the cannabis used, and the unique thinking and emotions of every patient. While we can generalize some common experiences, each person will react differently. Many will find real relief from muscle spasms or migraine while others (rare) may experience increased anxiety or even what we call dissociative disorders.
All medicines have “safety profiles” which should be carefully reviewed before starting any new drug. Cannabis has an extraordinarily safe profile with no reported overdoses or deaths and few adverse reactions. Smoking can cause irritation of the throat and lungs. Smoking cannabis that is contaminated with pesticides, mold, or other substances, can lead to bronchitis and be particularly dangerous for folks with compromised immune systems. Many patients prefer to utilize vaporizers or take their cannabis orally or even topically. Some patients report stomach upset from ingesting cannabis products. Many patients, particularly new ones, may find cannabis makes them sleepy or dizzy. No patient who utilizes cannabis should operate a motor vehicle or machinery while under the influence.
Over time, most patients learn just what dose is enough to help with symptoms while allowing them to function intellectually, physically, emotionally, and socially. Some say that the occasional euphoria produced by cannabis qualifies as an adverse reaction but we don’t believe that medicine must make you feel worse in order to be effective. Those very few patients who experience anxiety or panic should lower their dose and may not be appropriate for cannabis therapy.
It is important for patients and others interested in adjunctive therapy with cannabis, to learn all that they can from experienced patients, qualified physicians, and expert caregivers. It is sad to say that many in the medical profession today remain skeptical about cannabis and poorly informed or worse, are operating upon drug war stereotypes. Unfortunately, cannabis is not a routine part of either medical or pharmaceutical education other than to caution against drug abuse. Yes, cannabis can be abused and can be psychologically habituating but the degree of “addiction” or the harm done is astronomically less than many prescription drugs and certainly far less than alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, or heroin.
Patients with a history of substance abuse or mental illness require a close consultation with and supervision by a psychiatrist experienced in cannabis therapy. Believe it or not, cannabis has been used by many to actually treat addiction to harder drugs.
We at AAMC are excited by the real relief we see thousands of patients receiving from cannabis. We only write these words of caution and disclaimers regarding medical advice to insure that patients and others recognize that it is up to the patient to accept responsibility along with their recommending physician for any therapeutic choice.
We at AAMC also feel it is our responsibility to bring you the latest in scientific findings and clinical experience while providing comprehensive links to organizations like the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, and many others. Welcome to the information, which may make your life or the life of a loved one a little bit better.
[Last edited Dec 14, 2012 22:07:05]