Project CBD, a California-based educational non-profit, has published an in-depth Primer on Cannabinoid-Drug Interactions for health professionals, patients, and public policy-makers. The 33-page report, summarized below, is available for free download at the bottom of the page.
Alan was disoriented and his words were not making sense. His wife thought he might be having a stroke, so she took him to the emergency room where he was seen by the on-call neurologist. When asked, Alan admitted to using cannabis on a regular basis for many years. The neurologist then brought him a printout with the title: “Marijuana Use Associated with Increased Risk of Stroke, Heart Failure.” That was when I got the call asking me if this was for real.
A patient’s perspective
Laura was a physician who spent much of her clinical time treating substance abuse disorders, and she had no recent experience with cannabis herself. Her aversion to using cannabis when she was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer did not surprise me. Nausea, and the anxiety that preceded its inevitable occurrence, were disabling. I trained with Laura in family medicine, and I had appreciated the beneficial effects of cannabis used by my cancer patients, but it was hard getting Laura to accept my advice.
Finally, I introduced her to a calibrated vaporizer – a method of administration that could provide quick relief, but was different than the ‘smoke a joint out behind the barn’ approach she had imagined. She started with a CBD-rich herb that had a ratio of 2:1 CBD:THC, hoping that the resulting intoxication would be mild enough to tolerate.
I received a call from Laura three days after her latest chemo, and quickly answered it to see if her trial of cannabis had been helpful to her. At first I was concerned because she was crying into the phone, but when I could understand her words I was thrilled. She reported, “It worked faster, better, and more completely than any of the prescriptions my oncologist gave me.”
If even reading about nausea and vomiting will make you queasy, you may want to jump to the end of this article and skip the potentially nauseating details. Nausea is like that – easy to feel if you are so inclined.
Nausea and vomiting are each distinctive, different problems – clearly related, but quite different when it comes to cause and treatment. Those who suffer know that nausea is worse to live with than vomiting because it is a continuous sensation, and is harder to control.
What is nausea?
Nausea and vomiting are protective defense mechanisms in the human body, and short-term episodes can be therapeutic, though miserable. But what if nausea is not short-term? What if it is an unavoidable side effect, or chronic, with no relief in sight?
If there is no clear trigger for nausea, a patient should work with their doctor to discover the underlying problem. This is true especially if the nausea does not resolve within a day or two because that may be a sign of more serious problems.
In a shorthand that drives scientists mad, serotonin is often called ‘the neurotransmitter of happiness.’ This tag is especially troublesome as more and more flaws become apparent in the ‘serotonin hypothesis’ of depression – the idea that depression is caused by a serotonin deficit, which a pill (a serotonin reuptake inhibitor) could correct.1 Serotonin is a complex molecule in the brain and the periphery with a vast and intricate receptor system classified into seven ma
Charlie Wedemeyer was one of Hawaii’s greatest athletes when he attended Punahou School in the 1960’s. He was the quarterback for the football team, but also excelled at basketball and baseball. Charlie was named the Hawaii Prep Athlete of the 1960’s and went on to play football for Michigan State.
Once upon a time, cannabis and humulus (hops) were the same plant.
About 27 million years ago, cannabis and hops diverged from their common ancestor and evolved as separate botanical species.
Today, cannabis and humulus are identified as distinct species within the same plant family Cannabaceae. One can see a family resemblance in the jagged-edged leaves emblematic of both plants.
Marijuana smokers have been stereotypically mocked for short-term memory loss, and there is genuine concern about memory impairment due to cannabis consumption, particularly among seniors who are considering cannabis as a therapeutic option.
But the importance of forgetting in mental health should not be underestimated.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide in individuals under the age of 45. Triggered by concussions from car accidents, falls, violent contact sports, explosives or by gunshot and stab wounds, TBI affects 1.7 million Americans annually. It is the most commonly identified cause of epilepsy among adults.
It’s relatively easy to experience medical benefits from cannabis. A puff or two of a resin-rich reefer can do the trick for a lot of people.
But smoking marijuana is not the be-all and end-all of cannabis therapeutics. One doesn’t have to smoke marijuana or get high to experience the medical benefits of cannabis.