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The Successful Six: Double-blind, Peer-Reviewed Studies Demonstrate Marijuana is Medicine

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Marijuana research is published almost daily dispelling the federal government’s hyperbolic assertion that marijuana is a highly addictive substance, lacking in medicinal efficacy. Unfortunately for most, the majority of these valuable research abstracts appear in relatively obscure peer-reviewed journals, flying under the radar of mainstream media and remaining hidden from the general public. – Not helpful.

In the hopes of disseminating a little useful information this morning, Marijuana.com will drill down on some of the more intriguing double-blind, peer-reviewed studies currently available. Examining the medicinal application of marijuana’s cannabinoids when utilized in the treatment of some of today’s more perplexing health issues, such as; Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ALS, bipolar disorder, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, IBT/Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Nausea, Pain, Parkinson’s Disease, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosis/Schizophrenia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Understand, this is an abbreviated list of peer-reviewed, double-blind marijuana studies, not a comprehensive one.

1.) Cannabis-based medicine protected against chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: 

Cannabis and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

Cannabis and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

Marta Duran, MD, Clinical Pharmacologist in the Fundació Institut Català de Farmacologia at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, et al., stated the following in their Nov. 2010 study titled “Preliminary Efficacy and Safety of an Oromucosal Standardized Cannabis Extract in Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting.
“This is a pilot, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial designed to evaluate the tolerability, preliminary efficacy, and pharmacokinetics of an acute dose titration of a whole-plant cannabis-based medicine (CBM) containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, taken in conjunction with standard therapies in the control of CINV.METHODS: Patients suffering from CINV despite prophylaxis with standard anti-emetic treatment were randomized to CBM or placebo, during the 120 h post-chemotherapy period, added to standard anti-emetic treatment…

Conclusion: Compared with a placebo, CBM (cannabis-based medicine) added to standard antiemetic therapy was well tolerated and provided better protection against delayed CINV. These results should be confirmed in a phase III clinical trial.”

 

2.) THC:CBD extract relieves pain in advanced cancer patients:

THC:CBD extract relieves pain in advanced cancer patients

THC:CBD extract relieves pain in advanced cancer patients

Jeremy R. Johnson, MBChB, former Medical Director at the Shropshire and Mid Wales Severn Hospice, et. al, wrote the following in a Nov. 6, 2009 article titled “Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study of the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of THC:CBD Extract and THC Extract in Patients with Intractable Cancer-Related Pain.
Abstract: “The primary analysis of change from baseline in mean pain Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) score was statistically significantly in favor of THC:CBD compared with placebo.

Conclusion: This study shows that THC:CBD extract is efficacious for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by strong opioids.”

3.) Smoked cannabis relieved neuropathic pain in patients with HIV:

Smoked cannabis relieved neuropathic pain in patients with HIV

Smoked cannabis relieved neuropathic pain in patients with HIV

Ronald J. Ellis, MD, PhD., Professor In Residence in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of California at San Diego, et al., stated the following in their Aug. 2008 study titled “Smoked Medicinal Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain in HIV: A Randomized, Crossover Clinical Trial.” published in Neuropsychopharmacology:
“In a double-blind, randomized, clinical trial of the short-term adjunctive treatment of neuropathic pain in HIV-associated distal sensory polyneuropathy, participants received either smoked cannabis or placebo cannabis cigarettes…

Among completers, pain relief was significantly greater with cannabis than placebo. The proportion of subjects achieving at least 30% pain relief was again significantly greater with cannabis (46%) compared to placebo (18%). It was concluded that smoked cannabis was generally well-tolerated and effective when added to concomitant analgesic therapy in patients with medically refractory pain due to HIV-associated neuropathy.”

4.) Cannabis extract relieved muscle stiffness in patients with MS:

Cannabis extract relieved muscle stiffness in patients with MS

Cannabis extract relieved muscle stiffness in patients with MS

John P. Zajicek, PhD., Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the Neurology Research and Clinical Trials Unit of the Peninsula Medical School at the University of Plymouth, et al., wrote the following in a Nov. 2012 study titled “Multiple Sclerosis and Extract of Cannabis: Results of the MUSEC Trial,” published in on PubMed.gov
“Objective: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with chronic symptoms, including muscle stiffness, spasms, pain and insomnia. Here we report the results of the Multiple Sclerosis and Extract of Cannabis (MUSEC) study that aimed to substantiate the patient based findings of previous studies.  Patients and Methods: Patients with stable MS at 22 UK centers were randomized to oral cannabis extract (CE) (N=144) or placebo (N=135)… This double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase III study had a screening period, a 2-week dose titration phase from 5 mg to a maximum of 25 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol daily and a 10-week maintenance phase…

Results: The rate of relief from muscle stiffness after 12 weeks was almost twice as high with CE than with placebo…

Conclusion: The study met its primary objective to demonstrate the superiority of CE over placebo in the treatment of muscle stiffness in MS. This was supported by results for secondary efficacy variables. Adverse events in participants treated with CE were consistent with the known side effects of cannabinoids. No new safety concerns were observed.”

5.) Low and medium doses of vaporized cannabis reduced neuropathic pain: 

Low and medium doses of vaporized cannabis reduced neuropathic pain

Low and medium doses of vaporized cannabis reduced neuropathic pain

Barth Wilsey, MD, Director of the University of California at Davis Analgesic Research Center, et al., stated the following in their Feb. 2013 study titled “Low-Dose Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Improves Neuropathic Pain,” published on PubMed.gov
Abstract

“We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the analgesic efficacy of vaporized cannabis in subjects, the majority of whom were experiencing neuropathic pain despite traditional treatment. Thirty-nine patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain underwent a standardized procedure for inhaling either medium dose (3.53%), low dose (1.29%), or placebo cannabis…

Mixed effects regression models demonstrated an analgesic response to vaporized cannabis. There was no significant difference between the two active dose groups’ results (p>0.7)… [C]annabis has analgesic efficacy with the low dose being, for all intents and purposes, as effective a pain reliever as the medium dose. Psychoactive effects were minimal and well-tolerated, and neuropsychological effects were of limited duration and readily reversible within 1–2 hours. Vaporized cannabis, even at low doses, may present an effective option for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain.”

6.) THC was “effective and safe in the treatment of tics” from Tourette syndrome: 

THC & Tourette syndrome

THC & Tourette syndrome

Kirsten Müller-Vahl, MD, Director of Tourette Syndrome Clinic at the Medical School of Hannover, et al., stated the following in their Apr. 2003 study titled “Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Is Effective in the Treatment of Tics in Tourette Syndrome: A 6-Week Randomized Trial,” published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry:
” Method: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 24 patients with TS [Tourette syndrome], according to DSM-III-R criteria, were treated over a 6-week period with up to 10 mg/day of THC…

Results: Seven patients dropped out of the study or had to be excluded, but only 1 due to side effects. Using the TS-CGI, STSSS, YGTSS, and video rating scale, we found a significant difference (p <.05) or a trend toward a significant difference (p <.10) between THC and placebo groups at visits 2, 3, and/or 4. Using the TSSL at 10 treatment days (between days 16 and 41) there was a significant difference (p <.05) between both groups. ANOVA as well demonstrated a significant difference (p =.037). No serious adverse effects occurred.

Conclusion: Our results provide more evidence that THC is effective and safe in the treatment of tics. It, therefore, can be hypothesized that the central cannabinoid receptor system might play a role in TS pathology.”

 

While existing research provides heady optimism within the scientific community, until Pres. Obama or his predecessor removes the existing barriers from conducting comprehensive research on the synergistic interplay between marijuana’s whole plant compounds the scientific community will be left guessing how much of a miracle plant cannabis truly is.

 

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