The 400-plus chemical compounds in cannabis have the potential to treat more than a dozen medical conditions. Cannabinoids are the most abundant molecules, and scientists have identified over 100 of them.
Medical professionals and other researchers are still in the infancy stage of cannabinoid medicine. However, the current data is extremely promising for clinical applications of plant-based medicines.
Cannabis as a Potential Seizure Treatment
The first legal, plant-based cannabinoid medicine in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to treat seizures in children two and older. Epidiolex (cannabidiol) is a high-quality, CBD isolates that’s manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals.
Many conditions cause seizures. Epidiolex is only available for two seizure disorders—Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome. Research is ongoing to expand the list of approved conditions. One of the clinical trials in children with Dravet Syndrome found of 120 patients, 64 percent of the group experienced a significant drop in the number of seizures per month with the average decreasing from 12.4 without the medicine to 5.9 with it.
Studies show that the non-psychoactive compound (in test tubes) could also shield the neurons from the oxidative stress that occurs in patients with epilepsy. Although that’s not an approved reason to take Epidiolex, it is a side benefit for people with these conditions.
Oxidative stress is a lack of homeostasis between certain chemicals in the body. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to help maintain balance among the different systems and processes.
Some seizure disorders don’t respond as well to CBD isolates but find relief with whole-plant extracts and THC: CBD ratios that contain a higher percentage of THC.
Cannabinoids and Irritable Bowel Disease
It should come as no surprise that THC, CBD, and different combinations of the 100-plus compounds can help people with irritable bowel disease (IBD) because it’s already proven to reduce nausea, stomach pains, and vomiting for patients undergoing chemotherapy and with HIV and AIDS. (Although recent studies show it may have more health benefits for patients with cancer and HIV.)
Research also indicates that medical cannabis has fewer side effects than the medications currently used to treat these disorders and their symptoms. For example, Prednisone (Deltasone), a steroid used to treat gastrointestinal disorders can cause serious side effects such as peptic ulcers, loss of muscle mass, bone loss, and reduce wound healing time.
There are synthetic cannabinoids approved to treat gastrointestinal issues. Currently, the only two conditions they can use the medication for in a hospital or nursing facility is cancer and HIV/AIDS-related nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, reduced appetite.
These are just two of the dozens of possible clinical applications for the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Scientists and other researchers are studying other compounds for their potential medicinal use and hope to add to the number of non-psychoactive plant molecules they can use to treat various conditions.
[Check back for new content about other medical cannabinoids such as CBG, CBDV, THCV, and CBC.]