In the last couple of years, scientists have made significant progress in the study of cannabis and their various medicinal benefits.
The ever-growing number of states and countries legalizing the drug has provided researchers a platform to take a deeper look into its effects. Despite the federal obstacles and the contrasting public opinion regarding cannabis, people are acknowledging the need for a more extensive body of research on the matter and scientists are taking steps to address this.
So what are the most notable and the most significant cannabis studies that have been conducted in the last few months or so? Here’s what’s on our list:
1. Medical cannabis can help fight the opioid crisis
A study conducted by researchers from the University of California San Diego and Weill Cornell Medical College suggests that legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes leads to a significant drop in opioid use.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed Addiction journal in 2018. Researchers looked into the relationship between medical cannabis legalization in the U.S. and the prevalence of prescription opioid usage among qualified Medicaid patients. They evaluated over 21 years of data.
The researchers wrote that they have found that statewide medical cannabis legalization was associated with a nearly 30-percent reduction in the use of Schedule III opioids among Medicaid enrollees.
2. Cannabis leaves can fight against Staph infection.
A study that was published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine found that cannabis leaf extract can effectively fight against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
MRSA is a group of gram-positive bacteria that can cause infections that are difficult to treat with the usual antibiotics. These MRSA-caused infections can occur in different parts of the body, such as the skin, lungs, bloodstream, and the urinary tract.
The study was conducted by researchers from Saaii College of Medical Science and Technology and the University of Gour Banga in India. They analyzed the anti-MRSA antimicrobial properties of ethanol-based tinctures that contain crushed Cannabis sativa, Psidium guajava (common guava), and Thuja orientalis leaves.
Using in-vitro procedures, the researchers tested the antimicrobial activities of these leaves. They also examined the presence of bioactive molecules in the extracts of each of the leaves.
The researchers found that 50 percent of the extract of each of the three leaves is effective at inhibiting MRSA growth. They also found that the effects were more profound when cannabis leaves were used in a 1:1 ratio mixture with Thuja orientalis leaves.
You can read more about the study, entitled Antimicrobial activity of Cannabis sativa, Thuja orientalis, and Psidium guajava leaf extracts against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, here.
3. Cannabis gives users a better chance of surviving a heart attack.
Heart attack, also medically referred to as acute myocardial infarction (AMI), is a life-threatening condition that takes place when the blood flow to the heart is abruptly cut off, resulting in tissue damage. It is estimated that one person in the U.S. suffers from a heart attack every 40 seconds. It is also estimated that only 24 percent of heart attack patients will survive.
However, according to a study published in PLOS One, the use of cannabis may improve one’s chances of surviving a heart attack.
Researchers from the University of Colorado examined the hospital records of more than 3,800 heart attack patients who have a history of cannabis use. They compared these with the records of over 1.2 million patients who have never used cannabis.
They found that those who have used cannabis were less likely to die during hospitalization. Moreover, they also found that cannabis use was not associated with adverse short-term outcomes to the patients’ health.
The study concluded that cannabis users were significantly less likely to die, to experience shock, or to require an intra-aortic balloon pump after a heart attack compared to non-cannabis users.
4. Medical cannabis is slowly replacing anti-anxiety drugs.
Anxiety seems to be an unstoppable plague that affects today’s society. However, it looks like cannabis may be the help patients need to curb it.
According to a study by Canadian researchers, cannabis can be used as an effective alternative to conventional anti-anxiety medications. The study, published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, found that nearly half of patients with anxiety discontinued their use of their prescription meds after they started using medical cannabis.
The researchers looked into the relationship between cannabis and a class of drugs that work in the central nervous system called benzodiazepines. These drugs, which include Ativan, Xanax, and Valium, are used primarily in the treatment of anxiety.
The researchers examined 146 Canadian patients enrolled in the medical cannabis program. They found that a large number of these patients had substituted their anti-anxiety meds with cannabis.
Within two months of starting medical cannabis treatment, 30 percent of these patients discontinued using benzodiazepines. By their sixth month of medical cannabis use, 45 percent of patients have stopped taking their traditional meds.
The participating patients also reported having reduced distress brought about by their anxiety.
The findings of this recent study are consistent with the findings of several other research papers on cannabis and cannabinoids. One research suggests that cannabinoids — particularly cannabidiol (CBD) — may mitigate anxiety through their interaction with our endocannabinoid system.
5. THC is more important than CBD in terms of therapeutic benefits.
A study has found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive and high-inducing ingredient in cannabis — is more important for the drug’s therapeutic effects than originally believed.
Researchers at the University of Mexico utilized a mobile software technology to assess the real-time effects of cannabis products that are used by millions of people. Their findings are believed to have solved a major gap in scientific literature.
The researchers found that THC showed the strongest correlation with the medicinal relief that cannabis offers — and that this correlation is stronger than CBD.
The study, entitled “The Association between Cannabis Product Characteristics and Symptom Relief,” was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
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Our list is not, by any means, comprehensive. These are just a few cannabis-related studies conducted in the last year or so that have caught our attention. There are actually many other studies, research, papers, reviews, and clinical trials that have been published recently and that the scientific community deems relevant in the advancement of our knowledge of cannabis.