There are curious cases of people who feel no pain or have extreme resistance to discomfort. These individuals are often studied by researchers who hope to develop better methods of pain management. One such woman was discovered after she recovered from a highly painful wrist surgery using Tylenol alone. As researchers at the University College of London found out, she had a history of this sort of endurance, and it appeared to have been passed on to her son. With her consent, they ran genetic tests, identifying two mutation in genes related to FAAH.
Legalization has led to lower rates of cannabis use among teens, while middle-aged and elderly adults are adopting extracts for the aches of aging. Scientists led by Julie Bobitt at the University of Illinois have surveyed older adults in Colorado, trying to understand why seniors use cannabis and the barriers they encounter.
In clinical research, cannabis is often set up to fail. Federal restrictions privilege studying isolated molecules from cannabis over the plant itself. And even when cannabis research is done, scientists are often forced to use low-quality weed from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Because of this, most of the useful medical data on cannabis comes from observational studies, where people consuming cannabis are asked about their experience. Researchers in Albuquerque recently analyzed an app-based survey of over 3,000 cannabis users.
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the most common classes of painkillers, which includes aspirin, ibuprofen, celecoxib, and other pharmaceuticals. Their primary target is an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which metabolizes many lipids (including endocannabinoids!) into a class of inflammatory molecules called prostaglandins.
Endometriosis is a poorly-understood condition causing severe chronic pain and alterations in a woman’s menstrual cycle. As an understudied disease, treatment is limited. Scientists surveyed over 400 Australian women to see what actions they took to treat their pelvic pain. Cannabis, heat, CBD oil, and dietary changes were rated most effective by women, in that order. Unfortunately, more women used alcohol than cannabis to manage symptoms; self-medicating with alcohol promotes chronic inflammation and led to worsening pain and fatigue in over half of such women.
Marijuana has had a turbulent history in the United States. Starting in the mid-1990s, however, there was a push to introduce the medical benefits of cannabis to the American people once again— “once again,” because before the 20th century, marijuana was almost entirely legal.
I was born with a rare, degenerative hereditary motor and sensor neuropathy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), a disorder of the peripheral nervous system characterized by a progressive loss of muscle tissue and touch sensation across various parts of the body. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth and for the following 22 years I have faced enormous challenges because of Charcot-Marie-Tooth and cannabis prohibition.
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