Scientific information

Medical marijuana

The following citations from scientific journals confirm the benefits of using a vaporizer. We have also added some examples of scientific papers on the use of cannabis for medical purposes. It should be noted however that many of these investigations did not involve a vaporizer but joints, and thus although the researchers may confirm the efficacy of cannabinoids, they often discourage the use of cannabis because of the harmfulness of smoke. Many researchers also list the psychoactivity of cannabis as an undesirable side-effect, but we think this is something patients should decide for themselves.

Vaporizers

Evaluation of a vaporizing device (the Volcano) for the pulmonary administration of tetrahydrocannabinol:

"What is currently needed for optimal use of medicinal cannabinoids is a feasible, non smoked, rapid-onset delivery system. Cannabis vaporization is a technique aimed at suppressing irritating respiratory toxins by heating cannabis to a temperature where active cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion where smoke and associated toxins are produced. The goal of this study was to evaluate the performance of the Volcano vaporizer in terms of reproducible delivery of the bioactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by using pure cannabinoid preparations, so that it could be used in a clinical trial. By changing parameters such as temperature setting, type of evaporation sample and balloon volume, the vaporization of THC was systematically improved to its maximum, while preventing the formation of breakdown products of THC, such as cannabinol or delta-8-THC. Inter- and intra-device variability was tested as well as relationship between loaded- and delivered dose. It was found that an average of about 54% of loaded THC was delivered into the balloon of the vaporizer, in a reproducible manner. When the vaporizer was used for clinical administration of inhaled THC, it was found that on average 35% of inhaled THC was directly exhaled again. Our results show that with the Volcano a safe and effective cannabinoid delivery system seems to be available to patients. The final pulmonal uptake of THC is comparable to the smoking of cannabis, while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking."

Source: Interscience

Decreased respiratory symptoms in cannabis users who vaporize:

"Cannabis smoking can create respiratory problems. Vaporizers heat cannabis to release active cannabinoids, but remain cool enough to avoid the smoke and toxins associated with combustion. Vaporized cannabis should create fewer respiratory symptoms than smoked cannabis. We examined self-reported respiratory symptoms in participants who ranged in cigarette and cannabis use. Data from a large Internet sample revealed that the use of a vaporizer predicted fewer respiratory symptoms even when age, sex, cigarette smoking, and amount of cannabis used were taken into account. Age, sex, cigarettes, and amount of cannabis also had significant effects. The number of cigarettes smoked and amount of cannabis used interacted to create worse respiratory problems. A significant interaction revealed that the impact of a vaporizer was larger as the amount of cannabis used increased. These data suggest that the safety of cannabis can increase with the use of a vaporizer. Regular users of joints, blunts, pipes, and water pipes might decrease respiratory symptoms by switching to a vaporizer."

Source: Harm Reduction Journal

Cannabis

Cannabis vs. nicotine smoke:

"More people are using the cannabis plant as modern basic and clinical science reaffirms and extends its medicinal uses. Concomitantly, concern and opposition to smoked medicine has occurred, in part due to the known carcinogenic consequences of smoking tobacco. Are these reactions justified? While chemically very similar, there are fundamental differences in the pharmacological properties between cannabis and tobacco smoke. Cannabis smoke contains cannabinoids whereas tobacco smoke contains nicotine. Available scientific data, that examines the carcinogenic properties of inhaling smoke and its biological consequences, suggests reasons why tobacco smoke, but not cannabis smoke, may result in lung cancer."

Source: Harm Reduction Journal

Medical applications of cannabis:

"For many years, friends of marijuana argued that it had medical benefits, but the science was slippery -- when the government even permitted the research at all. In 1990, CB(1), the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered. Then endogenous cannabinoids -- body-made chemicals that activated the receptors -- were identified, and everything changed. The second cannabinoid receptor, CB(2), was found in 1993. While CB(2) resides mainly in the immune system, CB(1) is largely a nervous Nellie -- living on nerve cells. Roger Pertwee, a cannabis expert at the University of Aberdeen, says the receptor is "distributed widely throughout the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. They are present in their greatest concentration around the hippocampus, cortex, olfactory areas, basal ganglia, cerebellum and spinal cord. This pattern accounts for the effects of cannabinoids on memory, emotion, cognition and movement."

Source: Whyfiles

Cannabinoids and pain management:

"The purpose of this systematic review was to find all of the randomized controlled trials of therapeutic use of cannabis in the management of human pain and then to obtain the best estimates of the efficacy of cannabis compared with either conventional analgesics or placebo. We also sought evidence of adverse effects (safety). [Our conclusion was that] cannabinoids give about the same level of pain relief as codeine in acute postoperative pain."

Source: PubMed

Cannabis for AIDS patients (1):

"Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a common cause of death among young adults in the USA. AIDS wasting syndrome is the most common clinical presentation of AIDS. Antiretroviral drug therapy has improved the prognosis of persons with AIDS, but also contributed side effects, particularly nausea and anorexia. Case reports demonstrate persons with AIDS use cannabis as medicine to control nausea, anorexia, and pain, while noting improved mood. Recent clinical research comparing smoked cannabis to oral dronabinol (synthetic THC or Marinol) demonstrates no immune dysfunction in persons using cannabinoids and positive weight gain when cannabinoids are compared to placebo. Harm reduction research indicates that heating cannabis to tempratures well below combustion ("vaporization") yields active cannabinoids and a significant reducation or elimination of toxics (benzene, toluene, napthalene, carbon monoxide, and tars) commonly found in smoked cannabis. More research is indicated but vaporizers appear to substantially reduce what is widely perceived as the leading health risk of cannabis, namely respiratory damage from smoking. In spite of a need for more rigorous scientifically controlled research, an increasing number of persons with AIDS are using cannabis to control nausea, increase appetite, promote weight gain, decrease pain, and improve mood."

Source: Haworth Press

Cannabis for AIDS patients (2):

"In its report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, released earlier this year, the Institute of Medicine cited the dangers of smoking as a major drawback. The IOM stated, 'Numerous studies suggest that marijuana smoke is an important risk factor in the development of respiratory disease. Because of the health risks associated with smoking, smoked marijuana should generally not be recommended for long-term medical use.' The IOM suggested that researchers concentrate on isolating medically useful cannabinoids and developing ' rapid-onset, non smoked cannabinoid delivery systems.' Such systems might be similar to the inhalers used for certain asthma medicines."

Source: Aids.org

Cannabis for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy:

"We searched systematically for the strongest evidence of efficacy and harm of cannabis in patients having chemotherapy. We examined whether there is any evidence that cannabis is antiemetic when given concomitantly with emetogenic chemotherapy, how well cannabis works in this setting compared with placebo or conventional antiemetics, the evidence for a dose-response relation, and the profile of adverse effects. [Our research concluded that] cannabinoids were more effective antiemetics than prochlorperazine, metoclopramide, chlorpromazine, thiethylperazine, haloperidol, domperidone, or alizapride. Across all trials, cannabinoids were more effective than active comparators and placebo."

Source: PubMed

Cannabinoids in the treatment of glaucoma

"The leading cause of irreversible blindness is glaucoma, a disease normally characterized by the development of ocular hypertension and consequent damage to the optic nerve at its point of retinal attachment. This results in a narrowing of the visual field, and eventually results in blindness. A number of drugs are available to lower intra ocular pressure (IOP), but, occasionally, they are ineffective or have intolerable side-effects for some patients and can lose efficacy with chronic administration. The smoking of marijuana has decreased IOP in glaucoma patients. Cannabinoid drugs, therefore, are thought to have significant potential for pharmaceutical development."

Source: ScienceDirect

Cannabinoids for patients with Multiple Sclerosis:

"Here we show that cannabinoid (CB) receptor agonism using R(+)-WIN 55,212, delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, methanandamide and JWH-133 (ref. 8) quantitatively ameliorated both tremor and spasticity in diseased mice. The exacerbation of these signs after antagonism of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, notably the CB1 receptor, using SR141716A and SR144528 (ref. 8) indicate that the endogenous cannabinoid system may be tonically active in the control of tremor and spasticity. This provides a rationale for patients' indications of the therapeutic potential of cannabis in the control of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and provides a means of evaluating more selective cannabinoids in the future."

Source: PubMed

Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids, A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 - 2008

"Despite continued political debates regarding the legality of medicinal marijuana, clinical investigations of the therapeutic use of cannabinoids are now more prevalent than at any time in history. A search of the National Library of Medicine's PubMed website quantifies this fact. A keyword search using the terms "cannabinoids, 1996" reveals just 258 scientific journal articles published on the subject for that year. Perform this same search for the year 2007, and one will find over 3,400 published scientific studies.

conditions

While much of the renewed interest in cannabinoid therapeutics is a result of the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system, some of this increased attention is also due to the growing body of testimonials from medicinal cannabis patients and their physicians. Nevertheless, despite this influx of anecdotal reports, much of the modern investigation of medicinal cannabis remains limited to preclinical (animal) studies of individual cannabinoids (e.g. THC or cannabidiol) and/or synthetic cannabinoid agonists (e.g., dronabinol or WIN 55,212-2) rather than clinical trial investigations involving whole plant material.

As clinical research into the therapeutic value of cannabinoids has proliferated exponentially, so too has investigators' understanding of cannabis' remarkable capability to combat disease. Whereas researchers in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s primarily assessed cannabis' ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms - such as the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy - scientists today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids to alter disease progression. Of particular interest, scientists are investigating cannabinoids' capacity to moderate autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as their role in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease).

Investigators are also studying the anti-cancer activities of cannabis, as a growing body of preclinical and clinical data concludes that cannabinoids can reduce the spread of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (programmed cell death) and by the inhibition of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). Arguably, these latter trends represent far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago."

This report seeks to provide this guidance by summarizing the most recently published scientific research (2000-2008) on the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids for 17 separate clinical indications:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Dystonia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Gliomas
  • Hepatitis C
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Hypertension
  • Incontinence
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pruritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tourette's syndrome

In some of these cases, modern science is now affirming longtime anecdotal reports of medicinal cannabis users (e.g., the use of cannabis to alleviate GI disorders). In other cases, this research is highlighting entirely new potential clinical utilities for cannabinoids (e.g., the use of cannabinoids to modify the progression of diabetes).

Source: Norml.org