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Research Finds Cannabis Helpful In Treating Sleep Apnea


sleep apnea medical marijuanaResearch released earlier this year, conducted by the University of Illinois Department of Medicine, found cannabis to be a helpful treatment for sleep apnea,  a condition in which an individual’s breathing slows down, or sometimes stops entirely during sleep and immediately after waking from sleep.

In summary, the research found that even minimal amounts of THC – one of the prime compounds of cannabis – greatly decreased the negative effects of sleep apnea, without any noticeable adverse effects.

Here’s the entire abstract from the study, which has been published by the National Institute of Health:

Study Objective: Animal data suggest that Δ(9)-TetraHydroCannabinol (Δ(9)THC) stabilizes autonomic output during sleep, reduces spontaneous sleep-disordered breathing, and blocks serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea. On this basis, we examined the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of dronabinol (Δ(9)THC), an exogenous Cannabinoid type 1 and type 2 (CB1 and CB2) receptor agonist in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Design and Setting: Proof of concept; single-center dose-escalation study of dronabinol. Participants: Seventeen adults with a baseline Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) ≥15/h. Baseline polysomnography (PSG) was performed after a 7-day washout of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment. Intervention: Dronabinol was administered after baseline PSG, starting at 2.5 mg once daily. The dose was increased weekly, as tolerated, to 5 mg and finally to 10 mg once daily. Measurements and Results: Repeat PSG assessments were performed on nights 7, 14, and 21 of dronabinol treatment. Change in AHI (ΔAHI, mean ± SD) was significant from baseline to night 21 (-14.1 ± 17.5; p = 0.007). No degradation of sleep architecture or serious adverse events was noted. Conclusion: Dronabinol treatment is safe and well-tolerated in OSA patients at doses of 2.5-10 mg daily and significantly reduces AHI in the short-term. These findings should be confirmed in a larger study in order to identify sub-populations with OSA that may benefit from cannabimimetic pharmacologic therapy.

Source: The Joint Blog


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Johnny Green


  1. How Marijuana Became Illegal

    W.R. Hearst pulled a fast one on the American Medical Association

    By Kathleen Murphy

    Unraveling the story of marijuana (a.k.a. cannabis, hemp) is easier to do with a few little known facts in mind. For instance, hemp is the number one biomass source on earth and could easily provide the US with all its oil and gas needs, thus ending America’s dependence on fossil fuels. That’s probably one of the main reasons it’s still illegal today. But the story of how it became treated like an herbal pariah is yet more interesting.

    It’s often told to us Americans, throughout grade school and high school, that marijuana is bad for our health and that the government has to put all this effort into putting so many people in jail for smoking it. But I no longer believe that the laws against marijuana have anything to do with concerns for health.

    According to Ronald Reagan, “the most reliable scientific sources say permanent brain damage is one of the inevitable results of the uses of marijuana” (LA Times). He based his statement on the Heath/Tulane University Study of 1974. For six years, it was withheld from public knowledge that this study was actually measuring carbon monoxide poisoning, not the effects of marijuana. In 1980 Playboy magazine and the pro-legalization group NORML–after suing the government–finally received an accurate account of what the research procedures really were.

    There are also the reports about how marijuana is more dangerous than tobacco. I’d say that the two are pretty hard to compare, given that one is illegal and the other legal. (By the way, NORML has posted counterevidence to these health claims at http://norml.org/index,cfm?Group_ID=6891 and http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7503.)

    It’s horrible ironic that marijuana is branded as “unhealthy.” In fact, it is the only safe and effective medicine for cancer patients suffering pain and nausea.

    Cancer patients have a hard enough time with treatment. They lose a lot of weight due to the nausea that commonly results from chemotherapy. Dr George Wagoner, in Manistee, Michigan, a practicing physician of 29 years, recently wrote in the Lansing State Journal (19 Oct 2008) that his wife of over 50 years–after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year–couldn’t keep anything down. She was losing considerable weight and was wasting away. She could not tolerate the synthetic THC pill, Marinol, because the hallucinations were too distressing for her.

    He procured some natural marijuana and after taking the smallest amount her nausea was gone, which he felt was miraculous. In arguing for legalizing medical marijuana for seriously ill patients, he said that the debate should be about science and compassion for seriously ill patients suffering debilitating pain. To keep the only safe and effective medicine away from sick people is inhumane.

    Scott Paplowski, another example, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer when he was 16. After eight months of treatment his weight dropped from 220 pounds to 86 pounds. Medical marijuana saved his life by easing his nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain enough to restore his appetite. He currently weighs 193 pounds and at 39 he is believed to be the oldest living survivor of rhabdomysocarma, the form of cancer that he has.

    So how did this good medicine become illegal? Jack Herer’s book The Emperor Wears No Clothes (readable for free online at http://www.jackherer.com/chapters.html) is a comprehensive source of information about marijuana and its long history.

    When powerful businesses don’t like something, they can usually get something done about it. The 1937 criminalization of marijuana is a case where this manipulation is obvious, according to Herer. Hemp threatens certain powerful businesses today, just as it did in 1937.

    As the methods for processing hemp into paper and plastics were becoming more readily available and affordable, business leaders including William Randolph Hearst and DuPont stood to lose fortunes. They did everything in their power to have it outlawed. Luckily for Hearst, he was the owner of a chain of newspapers. DuPont’s chief financial backer Andrew Mellon (also the Secretary of the Treasury during President Hoover) was responsible for appointing Harry J. Anslinger, in 1931 as the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

    Hearst’s papers deplorably published enhanced accounts of marijuana-crazed black men raping white women. With these sensationalist newspaper stories as his support, Anslinger testified before Congress that, “Marijuana is the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind.”

    Anslinger completely contradicted himself later–before Congress again in 1948—when he testified that marijuana caused its users to become peaceful and pacifist, and that Communists would use marijuana to weaken America’s will to fight.

    A very interesting piece of that history is that only two days before the 1937 marijuana hearings, the American Medical Association (AMA) had just realized that the plant that Congress intended to outlaw was known medically as cannabis, which from 1850 to 1937 had been recorded as being the prime medicine for more than 100 different types of illnesses or diseases in the US pharmacopoeia. Dr James Woodward, who besides being a physician was also an attorney, testified that there wasn’t any real evidence being used to justify the new law and that the whole reason the AMA hadn’t come out against the law sooner was that “marijuana,” the new name given to cannabis by Hearst papers, was always described as a “killer weed from Mexico.”

    Dr Woodward and the AMA were quickly denounced by Anslinger and eventually, after more than 3,000 AMA doctors were prosecuted by Anslinger for illegal prescriptions, the AMA came around to “support” Anslinger’s views on marijuana.

    If things had turned out differently, I wonder if we would be at the mercy of big oil companies today. Knowing that hemp could easily provide the US with all its oil and gas makes me upset and feel all the more foolish for being taken in by the anti-marijuana propaganda taught to me in school.

    There are some illicit drugs that are truly dangerous and violence inducing, like crystal meth, but drug-education programs discredit themselves by continuing this unwarranted campaign of lies against marijuana. It is not too much to ask that their lessons be based on truth.

    Smoking marijuana leads to harder drugs? By that logic does eating meat lead to cannibalism? It seems a waste of time and tax dollars for our police and our court systems to continue criminalizing marijuana when it is obvious that there are far worse crimes being committed. •

    The Wonder Weed

    Hemp (marijuana) could substitute for all wood paper, all fossil fuels, and most of our fibers. It can make everything from dynamite to plastic. It grows in all 50 states. For long-term cellulose harvesting ability, one acre dedicated to hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees.

    In 1935 alone 116 million pounds of hemp seed were used in America just for paint and varnish. But after 1937 most of all that business went to chemicals produced by DuPont.

    Plastic plumbing pipe can be manufactured using renewable hemp cellulose as the chemical stock, replacing non-renewable petroleum-based chemical stocks. The many, many uses of hemp are an endless subject. See http://NORML.org to investigate further. •

    Study: Regular Cannabis Use Associated With Reduced Risk Factors For Type 2 Diabetes

    Thursday, 23 May 2013

    Study: Regular Cannabis Use Associated With Reduced Risk Factors For Type 2 DiabetesBoston, MA: Subjects who regularly consume cannabis possess favorable indices related to diabetic control as compared to occasional consumers or non-users of the substance, according to trial data published in The American Journal of Medicine.
    Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston assessed the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance in a sample of 4,657 male subjects.

    Investigators reported: “[S]ubjects who reported using marijuana in the past month had lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR [insulin resistance], as well as smaller waist circumference and higher levels of HDL-C [high-density lipoprotein or ‘good’ cholesterol]. These associations were attenuated among those who reported using marijuana at least once, but not in the past 30 days, suggesting that the impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists during periods of recent use.”

    Writing in an accompanying commentary, American Journal of Medicine Editor-in-Chief Joseph S. Alpert, MD stated: “These are indeed remarkable observations that are supported, as the authors note, by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions. … I would like to call on the NIH and the DEA to collaborate in developing policies to implement solid scientific investigations that would lead to information assisting physicians in the proper use and prescription of THC in its synthetic or herbal form.”

    Observational trial data published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal previously reported that adults with a history of marijuana use had a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than did those with no history of cannabis consumption, even after researchers adjusted for social variables such as subjects’ ethnicity and levels of physical activity.

    For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults,” appears in The American Journal of Medicine.

    Cannabinoid Produces Beneficial Metabolic Effects In Animal Model Of Diabetes

    Thursday, 25 July 2013

    Cannabinoid Produces Beneficial Metabolic Effects In Animal Model Of DiabetesBuckingham, United Kingdom: The administration of the organic cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is associated with positive metabolic effects that may potentially be beneficial to subjects with adult-onset diabetes, according to preclinical data published in the scientific journal Nutrition & Diabetes.

    Investigators at the University of Buckingham in England and the Institute for Biomolecular Chemistry in Italy assessed the effects of THCV administration on dietary-induced and genetically modified obese mice. Authors reported that although THCV administration did not significantly affect food intake or body weight gain in either of the models, it did produce several metabolically beneficial effects, including improved glucose tolerance, improved liver triglyceride levels, and increased insulin sensitivity.

    Researchers concluded: “Based on these data, it can be suggested that THCV may be useful for the treatment of the metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes), either alone or in combination with existing treatments. Given the reported benefits of another non-THC cannabinoid, CBD in type 1 diabetes, a CBD/THCV combination may be beneficial for different types of diabetes mellitus.”

    In May, Harvard Medical School researchers published observational data in The American Journal of Medicine reporting that subjects who regularly consume cannabis possessed favorable indices related to diabetic control as compared to occasional consumers or non-users of the substance. Separate observational trial data published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal previously reported that adults with a history of marijuana use had a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than did those with no history of cannabis consumption.

    For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The cannabinoid delat-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity,” appears in Nutrition & Diabetes.

    Please excuse my blatant plagiarism, is it plagiarism if I’m not claiming credit? The above was most of the best I have ever read about cannabis. Having C.O.P.D., Diabetes 2, Sleep apnea, I’m on oxygen therapy 6 liters a minute. I got a lot to be depressed about. I wish the government would get out of my business between my Doctor and myself. Restore me to my Doctor patient privacy privilages. I’m 56 yrs old and homebound. I want what little freedoms I have left and to be left alone.

  2. Also, Marinol has been proven to increase suicides rates, due to Marinol blocking the receptors in our bodies and it has been proven marijuana in its natural form, is by far better than any “Marijuana Pill” on the market, since marijuana doesn’t have those types of bad side effects.

    If marijuana is such a bad drug, then why are the pharmaceutical companies trying so hard to push their altered marijuana pills? FOR THE PROFITS! No other reason.

  3. Been there, done that. I survived for 20 years with a spinal cord injury and severe sleep apnea that I did not realize I had. Due to an unfortunate incident, I was prohibited from using the correct, best medicine. I was thrown into an agony of pain (marijuana is good for intraspinal central nervous pain syndrome, too) and sleeplessness. When I finally worked my way through the system to the sleep clinic I was well into the severe sleep apnea category.

    Fortunately, I was put on marinol once I convinced them I wasn’t just partying with it (for which it’s close to worthless anyway) I am now at the max recommended dosage (30 mg/day) and it’s better, but still nowhere as effective as straight up indica as I have to take a cocktail of other drugs to supplement marinol-only treatment.

    EDIT: Read a little more. They studied obstructive sleep apnea- OSA. I have a partial component of that, but my primary issue is central sleep apnea – CSA – due to the spinal cord injury. I’d argue you can extended these results to CSA, too. And up the dose if needed to achieve better results. You’re not gonna hurt anyone with marinol.

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