More quick hits
Bipolar disorder is rarely considered from our growing perspective of the endocannabinoid system in mental health. Iranian researchers at Kerman University recently reviewed the beneficial and harmful aspects of endocannabinoids in this disease.
Part of why doctors remain wary of cannabis medicine is the lack of randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials — the gold standard for medical research. Because of cannabis’ status as an illicit drug, research is often relegated to retrospective surveys, which are useful but more likely to be biased. But there are methods in between these two schemes, such as open-label trials.
Candidates for organ transplant are thoroughly screened, and illicit substance use is usually disqualifying. But cannabis is well established as a medicine (as it has been for millennia) and should not prevent patients from receiving a necessary transplant. Doctors at a pediatric hospital in Delaware recently described the thought process around allowing or prohibiting cannabis use.
Preventing nausea is a common medical use of cannabis. But nausea is a multi-faceted feeling. Motion sickness, morning sickness, the flu, or chemotherapy all cause slightly different versions of this discomfort.
Hemp is a bioaccumulator — it tends to absorb heavy metals from soil, leaving the ground clean by collecting contaminants in its body. When intended for human consumption, this is obviously a problem. But as a means for cleansing land of industrial toxins, hemp is quite promising.
Organophosphates are a class of insecticides like chlorpyrifos and soman. Sarin, used as a chemical weapon, is also an organophosphate. Many of these are neurotoxic, owing to their ability to amplify the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which paralyzes insects and causes their death. A recent study from medical researchers in Maryland and Pennsylvania described the human toxicity in detail and explained why cannabinoids may be protective for humans.
Researchers have modulated cannabinoid CB1 receptors in addiction treatment in order to affect cravings, the formation of habits, one’s sensitivity to triggers, withdrawal symptoms, and the pleasure one derives from drug use. Now scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have added a new factor to the list: feeling satiated.
Cannabinoids have been proposed for numerous neurodegenerative disorders. As a matter of fact, scientists employed by the US government filed a patent in 2001 for Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants, citing their potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease among others.