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Scientists separate medical benefits of cannabis from unwanted side effects


Medical marijuana
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(NaturalNews) With very few exceptions, almost no medical issue in recent times has been more controversial in the United States than that of medical marijuana. Proponents of this issue believe that the bioactive ingredients in marijuana should be used as or in medications due to its many health benefits - and indeed, there is ample evidence to suggest that it can help relieve inter-ocular pressure in glaucoma patients, increase the appetite of patients going through chemotherapy and perhaps most importantly, ease the pain of those who are dying. Critics argue, however, that the unwanted side effects of getting "high" and the risk of addiction make it too dangerous a drug to use, even in very controlled circumstances. However, it appears that scientists are close to harnessing the medical benefits of marijuana and separating them from unwanted side effects. Read on to find out more.

New research separates the good from the bad

This new research is a collaboration between East Anglia University in the UK and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. Together, scientists working in both universities have uncovered the pathway by which THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is able to reduce tumors in patients who are suffering from cancer.

It was found that THC affects both serotonin and cannabinoid receptors in the brain which cause the "high" feeling to occur. However, these researchers also discovered that when these receptors are blocked, the THC is still able to fight off cancer cells without the unwanted side effects of getting high - and without the memory impairment that use of marijuana can lead to. It also found that THC was able to still provide pain relief without this memory impairment, which is important due to its frequent use as an analgesic.

Scientists are quick to point that this study was carried out on laboratory mice and that no human studies have yet been attempted. However, they hope that their discoveries will foster more work in this area and gradually lead to therapies which harness the benefits of marijuana without its drawbacks.

Reactions to the study

Reactions to this study from the medical community have been positive. Many doctors who are reluctant to use or even consider using marijuana-based therapies on their patients due to the unwanted side effects seem to feel more comfortable about these therapies once the danger of those side effects is removed. The medical community continues to maintain, however, that patients should not attempt to use marijuana to self-medicate.

The takeaway here is that, if more research is done which builds on these initial findings and if a therapy is developed which harnesses the healing powers of THC while avoiding its unwanted side effects, this might well pave the way for greater acceptance of these therapies. This could mean greater access to them by patients with serious medical conditions who could benefit from what the THC has to offer.

Sources:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

http://www.dailymail.co.uk

http://www.ibtimes.com

About the author:
Sofiya has written articles on most health-related topics, including traditional medicine, alternative and naturopathic and natural treatments,health insurance, wellness, medical marijuana, diets and fitness.

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