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Cannabis

Preliminary studies examine the effect of cannabis extracts on multiple sclerosis

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: cannabis, multiple sclerosis, herbs

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(NaturalNews) As part of the increasing interest in the non-psychoactive medicinal benefits of cannabis, research is pushing forward, despite legislative resistance, to appraise the long list of claims of the healing power of cannabis.

An extensive background check

The plant's abilities as a painkiller and an anti-nauseant are well documented, but the plant also has a long history, almost 5000 years, of claims of other medical uses. As one of the 50 "fundamental" herbs in ancient Chinese traditional pharmacology, cannabis has a track record of helping over 120 ailments and conditions.

Inflammation has been found to both instigate and worsen a long list of diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and gastrointestinal tract disorders. Outside of its painkilling claim to fame, cannabis touts its prowess as an anti-inflammatory aid. For this reason, cannabis was famously used by Queen Victoria for menstrual difficulty.

Uncharted data points, waiting to be mapped

There have been constraints blocking research for the last half of a century, over the course of which there have also been some drastic advances in medical science, including the unlocking of the human genome, upgrades in neuro-imaging, and a greater understanding of pathologies and associated immune defences. The increasing realization that pharmaceutical treatment often comes with a wide range of negative side effects is likewise influencing the demand for more research into natural treatments, including preventative care through diet and herbal healing.

A rare large scale longitudinal study

The study has been ongoing over the past three years, and is the largest of its kind to date, involving five hundred participants with multiple sclerosis

For reasons of variable control, the study examined the effects of just the active chemical in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, rather than the whole plant. The amount of THC varies across a plant, and even more between plants. Researchers found that the THC provided the test subject with some relief from the symptoms, reducing stiffness and muscle paroxysms, but did not slow down the progression of the disease.

Research that touches real lives

Multiple sclerosis is a progressively degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. Nerve cells are coated in a fatty layer that helps them communicate with each other. In individuals with multiple sclerosis, the coating gradually degrades, leading to peripheral neuropathy and interference with mobility, eventually leading to nerve death.

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are also neurodegenerative disorders, and likewise have very limited treatment options. Cannabis has, under other circumstances, been shown to improve neural communication, which had given researchers reason to be hopeful. In other studies, cannabinoids have been shown to be protective and capable of increasing neural plasticity.

Sources for this article include

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-18247649

http://www.thestar.com

http://www.jbc.org/content/286/12/10316.full

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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