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COOL News: Prescriptions for pot


Posted on Thursday, August 23 @ 22:46:58 UTC by wyldwynd



Smoking a joint can be a better and more effective way of easing specific types of chronic pain than the use of legal but addictive prescription narcotics such as OxyContin and morphine.

Is this a flash bulletin from the Cheech and Chong School of Medicine? An advertorial from the pages of High Times magazine? Folk wisdom dispensed by a whacky but reliable Central Square pot dealer?

The answer is none of the above. Instead, the conclusion comes from researchers at the University of California, and has been validated by the American Academy of Neurology.

In other words, this reaffirmation that pot, marijuana, cannabis — whatever you want to call it — has legitimate medical applications comes straight from the conservative bosom of the nation’s medical establishment.

 
While this recent study focused on a very specific sort of pain suffered by HIV victims, its findings are equally applicable to the sorts of pain associated with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, and a wide range of side-effects caused by cancer and its treatment.

Plus, more than 150 years of medical research have already established that, in addition to treating certain types of pain, marijuana can be used to treat anxiety, nausea, appetite loss, vomiting, and a host of other afflictions.

Marijuana used in a medical context is not a cure in the sense that antibiotics are. It is more akin to a treatment, something like aspirin. For almost 5000 years, marijuana’s medical uses have been recognized around the world as being both valid and versatile.

The US government has a penchant for fighting foolish wars; Vietnam and Iraq are only geopolitical examples. The so-called war on drugs is an equally misguided crusade. It perverts science, compromises medicine, and callously denies millions who are suffering access to fast, effective, and inexpensive relief.

Laws that remove state-level penalties for medical marijuana are currently in place in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Ten others, plus the District of Columbia, have endorsed the concept.

It is time for Massachusetts to join the ranks of those that make it legal to grow and possess marijuana for medical reasons, subject to medical approval.

As for circumventing prosecution at the federal level, which the US Supreme Court allows, Massachusetts’s congressional delegation should vote to deny specifically the funds needed to prosecute such “crimes,” and should move to protect doctors who prescribe marijuana for medical reasons.



Note: August 22, 2007  The Phoenix
http://thephoenix.com/article_ektid45923.aspx



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Role seen for cannabis in helping to alleviate allergic skin disease (Score: 1)
by wyldwynd on Saturday, August 25 @ 19:54:35 UTC
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University of Jerusalem, [RxPG] Administering a substance found in the cannabis plant can help the body's natural protective system alleviate an allergic skin disease (allergic contact dermatitis), an international group of researchers from Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. has found.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by reaction to something that directly contacts the skin. Many different substances (allergens) can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Usually these substances cause no trouble for most people, but if the skin is sensitive or allergic to the substance, any exposure will produce a rash, which may become very severe. Allergic contact dermatitis affects about 5 percent of men and 11percent of women in industrialized countries and is one of the leading causes for occupational diseases.

An article describing the work of the international research group, led by Dr Andreas Zimmer from the University of Bonn, was published recently in the journal Science. The article deals with alleviating allergic skin disease through what is called the endocannabinoid system. Among the members of the group is Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy.

In earlier work, Prof.Mechoulam's research group at the Hebrew University isolated two naturally occurring cannabinoid (cannabis-like) components - one from the brain, named anandamide (from the word ananda, meaning supreme joy in Sanskrit), and another from the intestines named 2-AG. These two cannabinoids, plus their receptors and various enzymes that are involved in the cannnabinoids' syntheses and degradations, comprise the endocannabinoid system. These materials have similar effects to those of the active components in hashish and marijuana, produced from the cannabis plant.

Research by groups throughout the world has since shown that the endocannabinoid system is involved in many physiological processes, including the protective reaction of the mammalian body to a long list of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In the article in Science, the researchers detail how the endocannabinoid system serves as a major regulator of cutaneous (skin) contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in a mouse model. In this model, they showed, for example, that mice lacking cannabinoid receptors display exacerbated inflammatory skin responses to an allergen.

Because the data indicate that enhanced activation of the endocannabinoid system may function to dampen the CHS response, the researchers administered cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a constituent derived from the cannabis plant, to the experimental animals. They findings showed that the THC significantly decreased the allergic reaction in comparison to untreated mice.

In order to better understand the molecular mechanism that may contribute to the increased CHS in cannabinoid-receptor deficient mice, the researchers performed a series of experiments which showed that mouse skin cells produce a specific chemical (a chemokine) which is involved in the annoying disease reaction. Activation of the endocannabinoid system in the skin upon exposure to a contact allergen lowers the allergic responses through modulating the production of this chemokine.

The results thus clearly show a protective role for the endocannabinoid system in contact allergy in the skin and suggest that development of cannabinoid compounds based on elements produced from the cannabis plant could enhance therapeutic treatment for humans.

Research article RxPG news

http://www.rxpgnews.com/research/Role-seen-for-cannabis-in-helping-to-alleviate-allergic-skin-disease_58061.shtml [www.rxpgnews.com]




Marijuana Compound May Fight Lung Cancer (Score: 1)
by wyldwynd on Saturday, August 25 @ 20:08:59 UTC
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TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- While smoking marijuana is never good for the lungs, the active ingredient in pot may help fight lung cancer, new research shows.
Harvard University researchers have found that, in both laboratory and mouse studies, delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cuts tumor growth in half in common lung cancer while impeding the cancer's ability to spread.

The compound "seems to have a suppressive effect on certain lines of cancer cells," explained Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

According to the researchers, THC fights lung cancer by curbing epidermal growth factor (EGF), a molecule that promotes the growth and spread of particularly aggressive non-small cell lung cancers. "It seems to go to (EGF) receptor sites on cells and inhibit growth," said Horovitz, who was not involved in the study.

The findings are preliminary, however, and other outside experts urged caution.

"It's an interesting laboratory study (but) you have to have enough additional animal studies to make sure the effect is reproducible and to make sure that there are no overt toxic effects," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "It's a little more than tantalizing because it's a compound that we know has been in humans and has not caused major problems."

The findings were to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Los Angeles.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the world. Lung tumors that over-produce the EGF receptor tend to be extra-aggressive and don't respond well to chemotherapy.

THC is the main active ingredient of Cannabis sativa --marijuana. It has been shown to inhibit tumor growth in cancer, but specific information on its action against lung cancer has so far been limited.

In the new study, the researchers first showed that two different lung cancer lines, as well as samples from patient lung tumors, produced the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2.

Endocannabinoids -- cannabinoids produced naturally in the body -- are thought to have an effect on pain, anxiety and inflammation when they bind to cannabinoid receptors.

Next, the researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice implanted with human lung cancer cells. After three weeks of treatment, tumors shrank by about 50 percent in animals treated with THC, compared to those in an untreated control group, the researchers reported.

The findings may shed light on a question that has been puzzling Horovitz: Why hasn't there been a spike in lung cancer in the generation that smoked a lot of marijuana in the 1960s.

"I find it fascinating, wondering if the reasons we're not seeing this spike is that THC inhibits lung cancer cells," he said. "It would be very ironic, although you certainly wouldn't tell somebody who smoked cigarettes to add marijuana."

A second set of findings presented at AACR suggested that a viral-based gene therapy could target both primary and distant tumors, while ignoring healthy cells.

When injected into 15 mice with prostate cancer, this "smart bomb" therapy eliminated all signs of cancer -- effectively curing the rodents. Researchers at Columbia University, in New York City, said the therapy also worked in animals with breast cancer and melanomas.

Forbes Health
http://www.forbes.com/forbeslife/health/feeds/hscout/2007/04/17/hscout603764.html [www.forbes.com]




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