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  Marijuana Compounds May Aid Parkinson's Disease
Posted by CN Staff on October 28, 2004 at 07:22:24 PT
By News-Medical  
Source: News-Medical  

medical No longer a pipe dream, new animal research now indicates that marijuana-like compounds can aid a bevy of debilitating conditions, ranging from brain disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson's disease, to pain and obesity.

In past studies, researchers determined that the main active chemicals in the drug marijuana produce a variety of effects by connecting to specific sites on nerve cells, called cannabinoid receptors. Researchers also discovered that these receptors normally bind to natural internal chemicals, dubbed cannabinoids.

“Understanding how marijuana and the brain's own natural cannabinoid system works is helping researchers design new medicines,” says cannabinoid expert Daniele Piomelli, PhD, of the University of California in Irvine. “It's believed that the controlled therapies that come out of this research might provide select benefits to patients while avoiding some of the unwanted effects seen with the drug.”

Research from California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco points to the promise of marijuana-like treatments for those with the fatal brain disorder ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

“Our research indicates that select marijuana compounds, including THC, significantly slow the disease process and extend the life of mice with ALS,” says study author Mary Abood, PhD.

The study extends earlier work from Abood's group that found that THC also can alleviate some ALS symptoms, like muscle spasms, in patients.

ALS wreaks its havoc by harming nerve cells that control muscles. As a consequence of the damage, an estimated 5,000 Americans afflicted annually experience progressive muscle weakness that can hinder movement, speech, even swallowing and breathing. New treatments for ALS are desperately needed.

“The only FDA approved drug for ALS, riluzole, extends life on average by about two months,” says Abood. “Evidence from our study suggests that a marijuana-based therapy could create a much greater effect, perhaps extending life by three years or more.”

In the study, ALS mouse models were given either the marijuana compound THC, the marijuana compound cannabidiol, cannabidiol plus THC, or a placebo daily following the onset of disease signs. The researchers measured disease progression by testing how long the mice could stand on a slowly rotating rod. The more severe their nerve cell degeneration, the less time the mice can balance on the rod. In addition, two conditions of ALS, the loss of movement ability and survival time, were analyzed using a mathematical model.

“We found that treatment with THC delayed disease progression by seven days and extended survival by six days in the mouse model,” says Abood. “This corresponds to three years in human terms.”

Results also indicate that the combination of THC and cannabidiol further delays disease progression. Treatment with cannabidiol alone, however, had no effect.

Another part of the study determined that the marijuana compounds create their benefits by reducing two molecular processes, known as oxidative stress and glutamate excitotoxicity. These processes have been implicated in ALS and are thought to harm nerve cells.

As a next step, the researchers will further decipher the mechanisms of action of THC and cannabidiol.

Another animal study also indicates that a marijuana-like compound can protect brain cells from the damage produced by the disorder Parkinson's disease.

“For the first time, our research shows the neuroprotective value of marijuana-like compounds in a well-established animal model of Parkinson's disease,” says study author Andrea Giuffrida, PhD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Parkinson's afflicts some 1 million Americans. Symptoms include slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, and shaky tremors, which can harm a person's ability to walk, talk, write, and eat. This havoc results from the death or injury of brain cells that produce the chemical dopamine.

“There are therapies that can help replenish depleted levels of dopamine and provide symptomatic relief, but none can reverse, prevent, or delay the progression of Parkinson's disease,” says Giuffrida. “Our research shows that marijuana-like compounds may be able to answer this need.”

In the study, researchers examined whether a marijuana-like compound designed to activate cannabinoid receptors, WIN 55212-2, could protect brain cells from degenerating in a Parkinson's mouse model, known as MPTP-treated mouse. These animals are given an injection of the toxin MPTP, which kills dopamine brain cells and induces symptoms seen in Parkinson's disease. The mice received a single injection of WIN 55212-2 30 minutes before the MPTP injection.

“We found that the brains of mice treated with the marijuana-like compound were almost indistinguishable from the brains of healthy mice,” says Giuffrida.

As a next step, the researchers are testing whether the marijuana-like compounds have neuroprotective value when brain cell damage is already present and whether they can prevent the progression of brain cell loss. “Learning more about the mechanisms by which marijuana-like compounds may slow down or prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease may translate into new pharmacological treatments that could fight this disorder in its earliest stages,” adds Giuffrida.

Another new animal study finds that drugs often prescribed for mild pain, like the pain from a tooth extraction, create greater pain relief when combined with a marijuana-like compound. If confirmed in humans, the combination strategy could be a boon to those with persistent pain conditions.

Persistent pain is notoriously difficult to treat. An estimated 50 million Americans endure some type of persistent pain that lasts for months, even years, including back pain, headaches, arthritis pain, and cancer pain.

“We found that the combination of a marijuana-like compound with either the mild pain medication ibuprofen or rofecoxib provides more pain relief than each of them given alone,” says study author Pierre Beaulieu, MD, PhD, of the University of Montreal in Canada .

The marijuana-like compound that researchers tested in the study is called anandamide, a natural internal chemical that activates the same system as marijuana. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and rofecoxib inhibit a specific enzyme that prevents the degradation of anandamide. This led researchers to suspect that supplements of anandamide could create even greater pain relief effects.

In the study, researchers injected the drugs into the back paw of rats. Then 15 minutes later, researchers injected the compound formalin into the same paw, which creates a persistent inflammatory pain condition locally.

“We found that compared to a separate administration of drugs, anandamide combined with either ibuprofen or rofecoxib doubled the animals' pain relief,” says Beaulieu. “Also since the compounds were injected locally, into the paw, we believe that the treatment would avoid some of the deleterious psychoactive effects seen with marijuana.”

Marijuana and marijuana-like compounds can act on receptors in the brain and the periphery, but only the brain ones contribute to the psychoactive effects.

As a next step, the researchers are testing the treatment strategy in animals that model a particularly hard-to-treat, persistent pain condition that can result from nerve injury, termed neuropathic pain.

Another new animal study supports the development of treatments that target the cannabinoid system for those with obesity. “We found that a compound that blocks activity in the cannabinoid system can significantly reduce food intake in animals by triggering activity in another system that is known to regulate appetite and body weight,” says study author Michael Cowley, PhD, of Oregon Health and Science University.

Obesity has risen at an epidemic rate during the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 60 percent of adult Americans are overweight or obese. These people face an increased risk for a range of physical ailments, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

“For many years anecdotal reports have described how marijuana use can increase appetite,” says Cowley. “Some users describe these cravings as the munchies.”

This and other work has prompted the development of drugs that combat appetite by blocking the cannabinoid receptors, which are activated by marijuana. “Some of these drugs are in late stage clinical trials,” says Cowley. “How they are able to control eating, however, has been a mystery.”

To shed some light on how they might work, Cowley and his colleagues gave mice a cannabinoid receptor blocker, termed AM251. “We found that the treated animals significantly reduced their food intake, as has been known for many years,” says Cowley. “We also found evidence that the activity of brain cells involved in the melanocortin system, which is known to control food intake and energy balance, increased.”

Several molecular measures signaled that there was increased activity in melanocortin brain cells. Included was the discovery that in treated animals there was a fourfold increase in the number of melanocortin brain cells that contained c-fos, a marker of cellular activation.

“These data show that cannabinoid receptor blockers can regulate the melanocortin pathways in animals and support the further development of cannabinoid blockers to help combat obesity in humans,” says Cowley.


Complete Title: Marijuana-like Compounds May Aid Parkinson's Disease, Pain and Obesity

Newshawk: Sukoi and Lombar
Source: News-Medical (US)
Published: Thursday, October 28, 2004

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Comment #18 posted by Hope on October 28, 2004 at 13:28:15 PT
Thank you for your concern, but of course, it does hurt...more like "irritates" though.

I can't miss what I don't have...but I'm curious as to the gifts that might be in this herb that are still undiscovered. With the anti's in charge, they may not be discovered for wasted years hence.

Maybe there is amazing help for eczema and arthritis in it's use. There are all sorts of possibilities and it's frustrating that draconian, superstitious, fearful, silly, wrong laws wielded by draconian, superstitious, fearful, silly, fascist and greedy people keep most of us from knowing and benefiting.

It’s one thing for them to be cutting their own noses off to spite their faces…but I hate that they are messing with my nose and forcing or trying to force everyone to march to the beat of their particular drum.

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Comment #17 posted by siege on October 28, 2004 at 12:29:39 PT
kaptinemo and Hope
don't hurt becuase the prize has not come to you yet In the 1800's the Dr.'s where using it for headache, migraines,sinus pain,and a lot more. I use the cannabis flower and lambs fat with honey for Agent Orange for me it works real good.

This could be nice a Full Plant Cannabis Patch. they say that there Bad thing in Cannabis when it is smoked. It was a food no Bad Things in it.

kaptinemo The V A Dr: say to try it but he would deny It. This one helps with cholesterol this cannabis (Hemp) flax ,olive oil, oils up the blood and lets it move faster and washes the cholesterol out of the system

DSMO and cannabis (Hemp) flax ,olive oil could be the one you for, DSMO carry it to the blood stream and lets it work there, the dsmo washes a lot of bad thing out of the body, when u, pee

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Comment #16 posted by kaptinemo on October 28, 2004 at 12:08:06 PT:

I can attest to hemp oil's topical uses
Due to another service related injury (severe frostbite) my knuckles get very cracked and dry in winter, causing painful lesions. Years ago I purchased a hemp oil based creme in Canada which does wonders in reducing the soreness.

Hemp is truly the "Swiss Army Knife" of the botanical world; we have *yet* to learn all its' possible uses. Its' medicinal properties are being RE-discovered daily. It would not surprise me that its' use is tied to longevity.

In which case, antis, if you don't want to use it, that's fine with me. The fewer there are of your ilk to bedevil us, the better. But don't try to persuade me not to; I know better.

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Comment #15 posted by Hope on October 28, 2004 at 11:19:16 PT
Dr. Slider
I'm still thrilled about your success though.

Way to go!

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Comment #14 posted by Hope on October 28, 2004 at 11:14:37 PT
"Give em a whirl!"
I'm not that brave, nor do I have, nor will I seek access to that key ingredient until it's legal.

It looks like, perhaps, an "extra" prize at the end of the race. The main prize will be that people will stop being murdered or persecuted over it or it's use.

The big prize for me will be for the fear and persecution of anyone over the use of this plant and others will cease.

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Comment #13 posted by dr slider on October 28, 2004 at 11:06:44 PT:

Given we've multiple millenia of proof none of your ideas will hurt anyone, give 'em a whirl, I say. It is clear that finding these medicinal concoctions will be a truly grass roots operation in this country. The medicos aren't even looking. Check Lance A.'s company on-line (Merck), they apparently have never heard of cannabinoids.

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Comment #12 posted by Hope on October 28, 2004 at 10:49:26 PT
A cannabis or hemp leaf compress
What effect might it have on a headache?

Could one be made with rice and dried cannabis leaf sewn into a cloth bag that could be heated in the microwave?

Would it stop migraines?

Would it stop sinus pain?

I so wonder.

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Comment #11 posted by Hope on October 28, 2004 at 10:37:27 PT
a moment of sheer vanity please
As my skin ages...I wonder a lot about cannabis infused oils and hemp oils and the anti aging effects that the cannabis seed might have.

What would an aloe vera jell infused with cannabis essence or extract do to a person's skin. Throw in some Vitamins, too. I so wonder.

(In my life, I've looked good and I've looked not so good. I've concluded it's more fun and easier and better in general to look good and most especially...feel good.)

What kind of facial or body mask could I make with freshly ground fresh cannabis leaves, yogurt, aloe vera, avocado, hemp oil and vitamins? I wonder if it will ever be feasable to try someday.

What sort of facial scrub might I make of ground cannabis seed, ground oatmeal, Almond, witch hazel, hemp oil, rosewater, and peppermint soap?

I've always been into natural experimental homemade cosmetics. I hope I don't always have to just wonder.

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Comment #10 posted by dr slider on October 28, 2004 at 10:27:23 PT:

attn. Vioxx users
I failed to mention that my hands, both with old and painful boxer's fractures, were completely ungnarled by this.

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Comment #9 posted by dr slider on October 28, 2004 at 10:23:54 PT:

I used med. quality bud, cinnamon from a stick shredded with a microplane, myrrh that looks like little resin crystals smashed fine with the back of a spoon, and ~3-4 fl oz evo oil. We have a local shop that caterers to witches in which I found the myrrh (and the bee's wax to turn said oil into a lip balm).

I used a plain old pan(small) containing water, topped by a glass pyrex bowl that sits on top of the pan, stirring occasionaly throughout. When infused I strained it through a simple kitchen strainer and applied it head to toe with special emphasis on the peroneal, sciatic and lumbar region. It took a few hours to wake up the previously out of touch nerves, but the effects were still in force 20 hrs later, implying a once daily regimen.

That's the best I can do here to describe the particulars, but I must reiterate, this is a sacrament, and only an understanding of that along with an open willingness to allow the process to determine itself will prove magical.

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Comment #8 posted by Hope on October 28, 2004 at 10:19:55 PT
topical ointment
George McMahon mentions something that sounds like your oil in his book. Years ago an elderly Mexican lady massaged his hands with an mysterious oil she had made that included med mj. He said it was amazing and had an extraordinarily beneficial effect on his pain gnarled hands.

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Comment #7 posted by Hope on October 28, 2004 at 10:16:15 PT
Dr. Slider
That sounds wonderful! Congratulations!

Dancing...a lovely thing for the spirit and the body.

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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on October 28, 2004 at 09:59:06 PT:

Something to consider
Being a rock-headed engineer, I always have to deal with probabilities. How about this one for size:

If you printed, single sheet, every presently known scientific study refuting the anti position of cannabis as having no medical uses, and stacked them, how much would they weigh?

Two hundred pounds? Three hundred?

And how much would the pile of studies weigh that conclusively proved that cannabis had caused a single fatality? Not even a freakin' GRAM, because, my friends, 'there ain't no such animal'.

I sincerely hope that during the Raich/Monson Supreme Court review, the comparison is actually, physically attempted. THAT would really be something. Imagine, a couple of lowboy carts being piled with papers trundled in to the chamber - and set beside an empty cardboard box.

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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on October 28, 2004 at 09:58:44 PT
me too
Yes, I'd love to hear more - where do you get the myrhh? Is there a website you can direct us to w/ more details?? Thanks!

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Comment #4 posted by dongenero on October 28, 2004 at 09:53:25 PT
more info dr slider
Dr, Could you go into more detail for this recipe. I don't fully understand. What is the resinous myrrh? I know it is a aromatic resin or incense. Is this a liquid form? How much olive oil do you use? I am not familiar with double glass bowl boilers? Can you describe the preparation a bit more? Do you leave the leaf material in the concoction and apply it topically as such? How do you determine the site of application. Is your pain more pinpoint ro do you apply salve to a broad area of pain? Sorry for all the ?s.

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Comment #3 posted by dr slider on October 28, 2004 at 09:36:11 PT:

dr slider jumps for joy
I've got great news for all peripheral neuropathy sufferers, with the shooting piano cord pain, the always present dull pain, and the clumsyness that comes with needing to be assured of every step, for me those days appear to be over. I tried the holy oil recipe with 3g of med,1tsp cinnamon,1/2 tsp resinous myrrh, with extra virgin olive oil in a glass bowl double boiler. After infusing for 3 hrs I strained the oil and applied it topically.

For the first time in 3yrs 9mos I was running and dancing, two activities I'd been convinced by "doctors" was only in my past. They told me peripheral neuropathy and degenerative disc disease were chronic and untreatable. THEY WERE WRONG.

Without getting into specifics, I suggest a reverent attitude while preparing this sacrament.

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Comment #2 posted by potpal on October 28, 2004 at 09:34:44 PT
I'd just like this learned men to call the plant by its real name and not the derogatory one that sprang out of the 30's madness...

Recently learned my brudda was diagnosed w/ Parkinson's...

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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on October 28, 2004 at 07:49:53 PT
screwed-up society
So, these guys are off torturing a bunch of rats to prove what people have known for several thousand years. What doctors knew in the 1800's, for that matter. Look at this:

Understanding how marijuana and the brain's own natural cannabinoid system works is helping researchers design new medicines,” says cannabinoid expert Daniele Piomelli, PhD, of the University of California in Irvine. “It's believed that the controlled therapies that come out of this research might provide select benefits to patients while avoiding some of the unwanted effects seen with the drug.”

CONTROLLED therapies. "unwanted effects seen with the DRUG". That's funny, it seems to me like these guys are trying to CREATE a drug from the natural herb. The more research they do, the more they find that a whole-herb extract works best. Again, something well known to humans since Biblical times.

These guys are off tormenting rats while all I need (and others with pain) is a simple tincture. Grow the plant, cut it down, extract it into alcohol and bottle it. No one will die. No one will suffer a heart attack or stroke (note that rofecoxib - VIOXX - is actually mentioned in the article). A drug developed using brand new, molecular-level scientific development!

Keep in mind this incredibly sophisticated research and brilliant scientific work is being performed by the same group of men who think the best way to deal with people in ER is to have young doctors who have been working for 24 to 36 hours straight attend to them. I just saw an article today saying that there are 100,000 medical residents in the US working 24+ hour shifts, most in ER. All so a bunch of arrogant old men can haze the pledges of their stupid little fraternity. No surprise that peddling toxic drugs is so trivial to these guys.

Hey, some of the people are getting sick and dying from our drugs! So what, we've got years of HARD scientific data and CONTROLLED dosages of these technologically advanced drugs! We're not going to use some sissy-assed herbal medicine, developed by people that aren't TOUGH enough to handle 5 years of residency!

It just makes me wonder, what other areas of society (besides health care) are suffering from our Western cultural paradigm of bloated male egos and the he-man, big swinging dick mentality. We need FIRM policy in this country, dammit!

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