Cannabis in medicine

Active substances


Marijuana contains about 60 psychoactive substances cannabinoids.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (full name Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive substance of marijuana. Possesses a strong anti-emetic effect, hallucinogen.
Cannabinol and cannabidiol have properties similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, but have a weaker effect.
Dronabinol (Marinol), a drug made from tetrahydrocannabinol, is used in medicine to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy when other drugs are not effective. Also used to increase appetite in AIDS patients.

How does marijuana work?

When administered orally in pill form and when smoked, marijuana affects 2 types of receptors: CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.CB1 receptors are located mostly in the brain. They are concentrated in the departments responsible for movement, memory, and emetic reactions. This explains the effects of marijuana, such as incoordination, weakening of short-term memory and learning ability, as well as its beneficial effect in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.

CB2 receptors are located on the cell membranes of the immune system – lymphocytes. The functions of these receptors have not been fully studied, but recent studies by Japanese scientists have shown that the effect of cannabinoids on the repeaters of CB2 lymphocytes violates the mechanisms of cell polarization. Thus, immune cells lose their ability to move and migrate to sites of infection and inflammation. This explains the negative impact of marijuana on the human immune system.

When smoking marijuana, the active substances reach a maximum concentration in the body within a few minutes and last up to 1.5 hours. When it is consumed, marijuana is mixed with food: the effect of the active substances slows down, but the effect lasts for several hours.

The drug “Dronabinol”, which is produced in the form of capsules for oral administration, begins to act 30 minutes after administration and its effect lasts for a day (in Russia this drug is not registered).

The use of marijuana in medicine

Scientists have discovered that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is possible for various diseases and conditions.

Cannabis and pain

People successfully used marijuana to treat pain in the 19th century, as it has a significant analgesic effect. Studies have shown that cannabinoids affect the mechanisms of pain. According to other data, cannabinoids in combination with opioids provide more significant pain relief when using smaller doses. Moreover, patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and patients with severe pain syndrome noted that marijuana relieves pain and helps minimize the use of narcotic drugs or do without them, which significantly reduces side effects. In fact, one of the main components of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is just as effective in cancer pain as codeine, an opium alkaloid, the main analgesic in oncology. The American Society of Neurology has concluded that cannabinoids directly affect pain impulses in the nervous system. This discovery could lead to the creation of a new class of painkillers.

Researchers at the Washington Institute of Medicine believe that cannabinoids can be taken to relieve pain in the following cases: patients who receive chemotherapy in the postoperative period in combination with opioids to reduce nausea and vomiting, patients with spinal cord injuries, peripheral neuropathic pain and post-traumatic mixed pain, in patients with chronic neuropathic pain and insomnia, in HIV-infected patients with neuropathic pain, and in other cases when the enny pain.

British researchers have found that marijuana can help even where morphine is powerless. Sometimes morphine and other drugs from the opioid class do not block the pain signals that the damaged nerve sends. Today, the development of anesthetic drugs based on cannabinoids.

The British company GW Pharmaceuticals conducted a study that involved 34 patients with multiple sclerosis, with spinal cord injuries and other pathologist that cause severe pain.

28 patients reported that treatment with marijuana drugs reduced pain and allowed sleep to normalize.

“Patients who participated in the testing of drugs, suffer from severe pain, which became the main part of their lives. The painful symptoms that these people experience are incurable. Cannabis preparations could significantly improve the condition of patients. Many people, in addition to pain, suffer from sleep disorders, which often negatively affect the patients themselves and their loved ones. By reducing the pain and at the same time improving the sleep of patients, we can significantly improve their quality of life, ”Notkatt says.

Cannabis and nausea

One of the most beneficial effects of tetrahydrocannabinol is the treatment of nausea. It reduces the mild to moderate nausea caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients, as well as increases appetite and relieves nausea from AIDS patients.

Marijuana and glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs due to increased pressure in the eyeball, which over time can lead to loss of vision.

In the early 70s, scientists discovered that smoking marijuana reduces eye pressure. It is still not known exactly how this effect is realized. It is probably associated with the effects of marijuana on CB1 receptors that are present in the eyeball.

Doctors prescribe “Dronabinol”  only when other drugs become ineffective in the fight against glaucoma. Currently, the development of drugs with cannabinoids, which can be applied to the eyes, thus avoiding their penetration into the brain and the appearance of dangerous side effects, is underway.

Multiple sclerosis

Studies have shown that cannabinoids are effective for treating tremors, muscle spasms and pain in multiple sclerosis, other diseases of the nervous system in which muscle pain occurs.

Scientists believe that on the basis of cannabioids, you can develop an effective medicine for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, since marijuana can protect the nervous system from destruction, which is characteristic of this disease. However, along with the therapeutic effect, over time, irreversible adverse reactions may develop, so the development of the drug will take a lot of time. To date, there is not a single drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, the effectiveness of which is scientifically proven.

The risk associated with taking the drug

In post soviet countries, cannabis refers to the list of prohibited substances. The use of narcotic substances on the basis of marijuana is an administrative offense punishable by a fine. In accordance with the current legislation, it is a criminal offense to acquire, store, transport and manufacture narcotic substances on a large and extra large scale.

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