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  Research Shows Marijuanaís Medical Perils, Promise
Posted by CN Staff on December 05, 2010 at 06:44:28 PT
By Joey Holleman, McClatchy Newspapers 
Source: Boston Herald 

medical Columbia, S.C. -- Chemical compounds in marijuana can suppress the bodyís immune functions ó potentially speeding the growth of some cancers but possibly helping in the fight against arthritis, multiple sclerosis or allergies.

The good-news, bad-news findings were published in this monthís European Journal of Immunology, based on a study led by University of South Carolina researcher Prakash Nagarkatti. An immunologist who has been exploring the potential of cannabis for eight years, Nagarkatti refers to the findings as "a double-edged sword."

Nagarkattiís earlier studies dealt mostly with marijuanaís potential to treat leukemia. The latest report, at first glance, seems to contradict his earlier findings. But Nagarkatti says the seeming contradiction just emphasizes the complexities of both marijuana and cancer.

"Cancer is not one illness. It is a very wide range of illnesses," said Nagarkatti, the Carolina Distinguished Professor in the department of pathology, microbiology and immunology at the USC School of Medicine.

"And marijuana has over 400 different chemicals. Itís such a complex plant that we donít know the impact of all of those chemicals."

The latest study on lab mice opens avenues for more research on the subject. Nagarkatti hopes itíll lead to human clinical trials.

He also knows it will stir up the medicinal marijuana debate.

"Iím getting a lot of e-mails from both sides already," he said.

Many comments tacked onto early online reporting about the study blast Nagarkatti as anti-medicinal marijuana. Those commenting donít realize his earlier studies showed the promise of marijuana components, or that this study indicated as much positive and negative.

The research focused on cannabinoids, compounds found in the marijuana plant, and their impact on myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Research shows those cells suppress the immune system. Nagarkatti, along with co-authors Venkatesh Hegde and Mitzi Nagarkatti, found cannabinoids trigger creation of huge amounts of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in mice.

If the findings in mice are replicated in humans, doctors might re-think the use of the one FDA-approved, marijuana-derived drug ó Marinol ó to battle the nausea of chemotherapy and stimulate appetite in HIV-AIDS patients.

While reducing nausea, marijuanaís cannabinoids might also speed death by suppressing the immune system critical to battling many forms of cancer and infections. Of course, since HIV-AIDS also destroys the immune system, the impact of marijuana on the system in those cases might be minimal.

Conversely, cannabinoids might be a new tool for doctors to treat arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In those auto-immune diseases, your immune system goes into overdrive, destroying healthy cells. By suppressing immune response, cannabinoids could lessen the severity of those diseases. It also could help people battle allergies and fight transplant rejection, Nagarkatti said.

While smoking medicinal marijuana has been legalized in some states, the only FDA-approved application of cannabinoids in the U.S. is Marinol.

Nagarkatti is fascinated by the medical possibilities of marijuana cannabinoids, but he doesnít recommend self-prescribing its use.

"Itís a complex mixture of chemicals thatís not something to be played with," Nagarkatti said.

Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Author: Joey Holleman, McClatchy Newspapers
Published: December 5, 2010
Copyright: 2010 The Boston Herald, Inc.
Website: http://www.bostonherald.com/
URL: http://drugsense.org/url/rouMDC3P
Contact: letterstoeditor@bostonherald.com

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Comment #7 posted by Hope on December 10, 2010 at 12:33:25 PT
Nor do we know such a thing about other plants.
"Itís such a complex plant that we donít know the impact of all of those chemicals.""

But on this gentle and benevolent plant... wait. Some more. "ďDo not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!Ē?"

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #6 posted by observer on December 09, 2010 at 16:26:13 PT
Potentially, May, Might ...
potentially speeding the growth of some cancers

re: "And marijuana has over 400 different chemicals. Itís such a complex plant that we donít know the impact of all of those chemicals."

Er, like lettuce, apples, tomatoes, etc. all "over 400 different chemicals". What a bunch of hooey.

re: "The research focused on cannabinoids, compounds found in the marijuana plant"

I.e., they're not clear here if cannabis was even used. More likely, a synthetic cannabinoid agonist. They don't say here.

re: "Nagarkatti is fascinated by the medical possibilities of marijuana cannabinoids, but he doesnít recommend self-prescribing its use."

Ah yes - the obligatory "but don't use pot" verbiage.



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #5 posted by Ras James rsifwh on December 06, 2010 at 11:07:25 PT:

Complex Mixture
Cannabis is a complex mixture of chemicals indeed. So is every plant on earth...well over 10,000 chemicals in each plant in the world. Using this gentleman's logic, we need to "stop playing around" with apples and bananas.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #4 posted by Brandon Perera on December 06, 2010 at 02:40:41 PT:

Sam
Do you expect people to be perfect or what

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #3 posted by NoCowLevel on December 05, 2010 at 18:02:12 PT
I agree with Granny!
Granny has a phenomenal point and I agree whole heartily. I'll be looking forward to Nagarkatti's future studies!

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #2 posted by Storm Crow on December 05, 2010 at 11:02:57 PT
And my two cents worth....
There are literally hundreds of articles and medical studies that say that cannabis slows, or actually kills, cancer cells. You can access many of them by looking in "Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List".

In addition to slowing the growth and spread of many cancers, cannabis slows angiogenesis- the growth of the extra blood vessels that feed a tumor. Cancers are very "hungry" cells, without large amounts of nutrients from those extra blood vessels, the tumors simply don't grow as fast.

I am not disputing that cannabis may promote the proliferation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells, but there is a LOT more to cannabis than creating some extra suppressor cells! With all those studies and articles saying just the opposite of his erroneous conclusion, perhaps his next study should look at WHY cannabis still suppresses cancers even though there are all those suppressor cells!

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on December 05, 2010 at 07:44:19 PT
South Carolina
Personally I wouldn't trust anything coming out of the Bible Belt.

"Itís a complex mixture of chemicals thatís not something to be played with," Nagarkatti said.

He just destroyed his credibility with me as a patient. Cannabis IS something to play around with. My body has been ravaged by prescription drugs, NEVER by cannabis.

This guy is just an idiot. Believe me, a fundamentalist mind is wasted in study. How can you profess to be an intellectual studying science when your mind is bigoted?

I'd trust the mailman to take care of my body more than this guy, at least the mailman starts the day free of lies.



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