Cannabis Science — The Endocannabinoid System: How cannabis oil works.
Since 1974 studies have shown that cannabis has anti-tumor effects. The results of the 1974 study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were that cannabis’s component, THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.” In 1975 an article in the Journal of the National cancer institute titled “Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids,” they reported that “Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth was retarded by the oral administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBD). Mice treated for 20 consecutive days with THC and CBD had reduced primary tumor size.”
In 1998, a research team at Madrid’s Complutense University Led by Dr. Manuel Guzman discovered that THC can selectively induce programmed cell death in brain tumor cells without negatively impacting surrounding healthy cells. They reported in the March 2002 issue of “Nature Medicine” they had destroyed incurable brain cancer tumors in rats by injecting them with THC. And in 2007 even Harvard Researchers found that compounds in cannabis cut the growth of lung cancer. There is also an organization called The SETH Group that showed compounds in cannabis can stop the growth of human glioblastoma multiforma (GBM) brain cancer cells. The SETH Group says “No chemotherapy can match this nontoxic anti-cancer action.” Even last year in 2012 a pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found THC stops metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer.
He’s only 3 years old, but Landon Riddle is already the focus of a medical marijuana fight in Colorado.
Landon has acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It’s the most common cancer in children.
His mother says his condition has improved so much following treatment with medical marijuana that chemotherapy isn’t needed. But the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, she says, disagreed.
It all started back in September 2012. Landon, then 2, was living with his mother, Sierra Riddle, in St. George, Utah, when he developed a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. The emergency room doctor said it was a virus and sent him home.
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Two days later he went back. His armpits were swollen.
“They thought it was either a virus or infection in the lymph nodes, so they gave him some antibiotics,” Sierra Riddle says.
But on the fifth day, his mother says she was changing his diaper and noticed his groin was also swollen, as well as his abdomen and throat. He was having trouble breathing.
That time, she got a frightening diagnosis: cancer.
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Landon was flown to a children’s hospital in Salt Lake City.
“His whole chest was full of leukemia tumors, which is why he couldn’t breathe,” his mother says. “They started him on chemo, but told us that he probably wasn’t going to make it.”
Landon’s cancer had quickly progressed, leading doctors to give him an 8% chance of survival, she says.
In general, ALL is one of the most curable cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 90% of children diagnosed with the disease survive.
Chemotherapy is the standard treatment, and Riddle says doctors put Landon on a four-year treatment plan. The first two months of chemo went fairly well, but then Landon became extremely ill.
“Most days he couldn’t get off the couch,” Riddle remembers. “He would just lay there and throw up and throw up.”
Riddle says he also developed neuropathy — a symptom of nerve damage that can cause weakness, numbness and pain — in his legs that left him barely able to walk.
Around that time, a friend set up a Facebook page called Offer Hope for Landon, and recommendations started streaming in, including several endorsing cannabis — medical marijuana — as a treatment.
Medical marijuana, however, isn’t legal in Utah. Still, desperate for answers, Sierra Riddle and her mother, Wendy Riddle, started looking into it.
They considered going to California or Oregon. Then their research led them to the Stanley brothers in Colorado. The six brothers are one of that state’s biggest cannabis growers and dispensary owners.
The Stanleys produce about 500 pounds of medical marijuana a year. At the time, much of it was high in THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in pot that gets users high but also helps patients with an array of conditions including pain and nausea.
But the Stanleys were also growing something quite revolutionary: a plant cross-bred to reduce the THC and increase another compound found in cannabis called cannabidiol, or CBD. Many researchers believe CBD is one of the compounds in marijuana that has medicinal benefits. According to the National Cancer Institute, it’s thought to have significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activity without the psychoactive effect.
The Stanleys expect to produce over 1,000 pounds this year, most of it the cross-bred variety, according to Joel Stanley.
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Riddle, herself a recovering heroin addict, struggled with the idea of giving Landon marijuana.
“I was telling my mom, you know, ‘We really need to think about this.'”
But, says Riddle, her son was already prescribed medications like OxyContin and morphine — medications with significant side effects.
Landon suffered from stomach failure, and “the OxyContin made him so miserable, when he had hair, he would literally try to pull his hair out.”
In the end, she decided she had nothing else to lose and moved to Colorado. She rented a room, got Landon’s medical marijuana card and began giving him marijuana — THC for the pain and nausea, but also CBD. The dose was based on Landon’s weight. He first took it in oil form, but now takes a pill.
Once the doses started, “Landon’s (red and white blood cell) counts increased dramatically,” she says.
Six months later, encouraged by Landon’s progress, she stopped his chemotherapy treatments completely.
“Once I took the chemo out, I see these amazing results. And no more need for blood transfusion and platelet transfusions,” Riddle says. “I think that the chemo in combination with the cannabis did put him into remission and now the cannabis will keep him there.”
As parents and as advocates, we feel an urgency to respond and take action on an issue that has been brought to the Epilepsy Foundation from individuals we serve across the country– the use of marijuana to treat epilepsy. We write this with advice and support from Nathan Fountain, Chairman of our Professional Advisory Board, and with advice and support from a range of other leading epilepsy professionals and board members.
2.3 million Americans live with epilepsy, a neurological condition that includes recurring seizures. More than 1 million of them live with uncontrolled seizures. Some of these people may be helped by surgery or other non-drug treatments, but for many, no answers have been found yet. People with uncontrolled seizures live with the continual risk of serious injuries and loss of life.
The Epilepsy Foundation supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now — not in five years or ten years. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, time is not on their side. This is a very important, difficult, and personal decision that should be made by a patient and family working with their healthcare team.
Treatments for epilepsy with any form of marijuana come with risks, as there is much that is not known about its effects. The consistency of available formulations also needs to be addressed. Caution is appropriate, and we strongly recommend that patients with uncontrolled seizures seek out an epilepsy specialist. However, existing therapies have real side-effects both known and unknown, and, just as there are risks with any treatment, every day without seizure control is a risk to life. Every seizure is a possible opportunity lost to live, learn, and grow.
The Epilepsy Foundation calls for an end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy. We applaud recent decisions that have allowed clinical trials of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, to begin in several states. Certain components of medical marijuana, including CBD, have shown effectiveness in animal studies, and there have been encouraging anecdotal reports from patients. But further research and unbiased clinical trials are needed to establish whether and in what forms medical marijuana is or is not effective and safe. Restrictions on the use of medical marijuana continue to stand in the way of this research.
The Epilepsy Foundation believes that an end to seizures should not be determined by one’s zip code. Our current situation as an epilepsy community is not acceptable. Families looking to access medical marijuana as a treatment are facing terrible decisions. One parent may move across the country to live with a child to seek this treatment. Other families may uproot entirely, including leaving their job, to move where they can access CBD oil. In the past, when therapies not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were available abroad and left only to those who could afford to travel, we fought for compassionate access. We are here to continue the fight.
The Epilepsy Foundation will be doing the following to support improved access and research into medical marijuana:
- Calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to implement a lesser schedule for marijuana so that it can be more easily accessible for medical research.
- Supporting appropriate changes to state laws to increase access to medical marijuana as a treatment option for epilepsy, including pediatric use as supported by a treating physician.
- Supporting the inclusion of epilepsy as a condition that uses medical marijuana as a treatment option where it is currently available.
- Supporting research on multiple forms of cannabis and seizures.
What can you do to help? Advocate for increased access and for the freedom to conduct medical research on a potentially effective treatment against seizures and epilepsy. Join with us at http://capwiz.com/efa/mlm/signup.
Here’s Our Story:
As the President & CEO and as the Chair of the Board of the Epilepsy Foundation, we are privileged to lead a nationwide network of caring volunteers and staff who work tirelessly to improve lives of individuals living with epilepsy.
We are also fathers of individuals living with epilepsy. Phil’s son has had thousands of seizures in his life and has endured two brain surgeries to stop his seizures. Warren’s daughter has a genetic form of epilepsy that is marked by severe seizures and, despite an implanted medical device and three different epilepsy medicines, endures daily waves of seizures.
Some individuals, specifically families of children with uncontrolled seizures, are using what is called cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, and anecdotally a few are seeing remarkable results. This is truly spectacular — anytime someone finds a treatment that stops seizures, there is cause for celebration because seizure freedom for one person means hope of seizure freedom for others.
There is still a lot we don’t know about the medical use of marijuana for epilepsy. Until clinical trials are completed, doctors and patients will not know whether medical marijuana or CBD will on balance harm someone or help someone with epilepsy. We are advocating for the rights of patients and families to determine with their doctor if this is an appropriate therapy for them, but we recognize the unknowns and the difficulty of this decision for an individual patient.
There is an obvious and urgent need for research. The Epilepsy Foundation is proud that we are currently funding an important research study to learn more about the effect of a form of cannabis on individuals living with uncontrolled epilepsy.
As fathers, we know the pain of watching our children experience uncontrolled seizures.
We know how epilepsy impacts development in children for whom no available current treatment has been successful.
We know about the dangers that can occur when families are forced to leave medical systems and physicians they know to move to other states.
We know seizures not only affect the individual enduring seizures, it also impacts siblings, parents, grandparents, kids and grandchildren, other loved ones and friends.
We know the difference between having recurring seizures and not having seizures can mean the difference between life and death.
Warren’s daughter is fortunate to be enrolled in a clinical trial of CBD. We do not know if this will help Sylvie but know the cost of her unrelenting seizures. Weighing the issue with her doctor, we decided the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Other parents and other individuals living with potentially devastating seizures should have the same opportunity to make that determination.
If an epilepsy patient and their doctor feel that marijuana is their best treatment option then they need to have safe, legal access to medical marijuana and they need that access now.
Commentary Medical Marijuana: We Need Proof and Compassion Orrin Devinsky, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Director, NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center Member of Epilepsy Foundation National Board of Directors
There is an enormous unmet need for better treatments for children and adults with epilepsy. Approximately one-third of people with epilepsy continue to suffer from seizures despite the best medical, dietary, and surgical therapies. For those with treatment-resistant epilepsy, the enormous toll includes the direct and potentially deadly consequences of the seizures, which are compounded by the disabling physical, cognitive and behavioral side effects from high doses of multiple antiepileptic drugs. Despite advances in epilepsy therapy over the past decades, our progress remains painfully slow and disappointing. Medical care and research fails many patients. The statement by Phil Gattone and Warren Lammert of the Epilepsy Foundation strongly advocates that there should be legal access for all epilepsy patients and their doctors who feel that marijuana is their best treatment option. I agree.
In a recent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, my colleague Daniel Friedman and I emphasized 1) the need for randomized controlled trials, considered the gold standard for clinical trials, to better understand the safety and effectiveness of any drug or combination of drugs – whether derived from a marijuana plant or synthesized in a lab, 2) the need for changes in how the Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana and its constituents as Schedule 1 drugs. This is much too restrictive based on the scientific data, especially for cannabidiol (CBD) – the major non-psychoactive component of marijuana, and 3) while we await scientific studies, that marijuana products be made available to pediatric and adult patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Charlotte Figi, who has brought this story to the forefront, suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a genetic disorder that often causes severe epilepsy. Medical marijuana, high in CBD and low in THC, has been reported to cause a dramatic reduction in her seizures and eliminate her need for seizure medications. Caring for epilepsy patients for 25 years, I have seen firsthand the devastation that uncontrolled epilepsy can bring. In the last 2 years, two of my patients with Dravet Syndrome died from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
Data from animal studies showing CBD and THC can stop seizures, stories like Charlotte’s, and the tremendous unmet need led me to organize the first international symposium on cannabidiol for epilepsy at NYU in October 2013, to provide testimony for compassionate use for marijuana to several state legislatures, and to work as a researcher (without consulting fees or salary support) to assess CBD as an epilepsy therapy. For our initial study for 25 pediatric and young adult patients, we have received inquiries from more than 500 families and patients.
We stand at an unusual inflection point where families are demanding access to a medication that may or may not be beneficial, and for which the side effects may be less than many medications prescribed by doctors; the medical community lacks convincing efficacy or safety data for children with epilepsy; and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s overly conservative scheduling of marijuana hamstrings research and access. Yet there should be caution for both expectations and potential side effects. Humility is essential in trying to understand something for which we lack solid evidence. Both doctors and patients are equally biased and the greater the expectation, the greater the potential for bias. We urgently need data from randomized controlled trials where the biases of companies, doctors, patients, and parents are meticulously removed.
We need to make a balanced decision about compassionate use. If I were Charlotte Figi’s parents and lived in Colorado I would have done exactly what they did. And as a doctor, I would gladly prescribe marijuana products for many of my patients who failed existing therapies if it were legal in my state. Trying marijuana or related compounds should be regarded like any other experimental treatment – a shared decision between patient/parent and doctor, that takes into account the severity of disease, risk and benefits of treatment, and existence of alternate treatment options, all guided by the principle of “first do no harm”. Until we have the scientific data, we should make medical marijuana available to physicians who care for people with treatment-resistant epilepsy and their patients.
About Epilepsy When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy, which affects more than 2 million people in the United States and 65 million people worldwide. This year, another 150,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite all available treatments, four out of 10 people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control.
About the Epilepsy Foundation The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with 47 affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to stop seizures and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy and research to accelerate ideas into therapies. The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. For additional information, please visit www.epilepsy.com.
MEDIA CONTACT: Kenneth Lowenberg Vice President of Communications and Digital Strategy 301-918-3773 firstname.lastname@example.org
1) CBD is an antibacterial and slows bacterial growth. This is significant for those of us who are dealing with an imbalance of bad bacteria which can cause health problems such as gum disease, heart disease, and intestinal issues.
2) When you take CBD, it does not cause the typical “high” associated with cannabis. In fact, CBD works as a partner with THC to balance its psychoactive effects. My personal experience with high CBD cannabis medicines is that they leave me clear-headed, positive, energetic, and relaxed. I describe this state as feeling like myself.
3) CBD reduces inflammation. Let me repeat that, CBD reduces inflammation!! Inflammation in the body causes disease. Less inflammation, less disease.
4) CBD promotes bone growth. How many people do you know that have a musculoskeletal deficiency who would benefit from a non-toxic, natural medicine for bone growth? When I first learned that taking cannabis could keep my bones strong I think I may have teared up. There are not too many things I wouldn’t do to be able to age without a degenerating, scoliotic spine so to know that this is one of the potential benefits of the CBD medicine that I am taking leaves me feeling incredibly grateful.
5) CBD reduces function in the immune system. If you suffer with an autoimmune disorder calming your overactive immune system down is vital for your continuing health. When my immune system is overactive I have all sorts of funky things happen to me: migraines, body pain, numb fingers and toes, and so on. Having a medicine that can help me regulate immune function is more valuable to me than the words can find.
6) CBD relieves anxiety. How lovely is that? I’m a relatively even tempered person, I think, but I do deal with anxiety. I am aware that this is a side effect of having chronic pain but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. CBD’s allow me to relax and feel like somebody who can handle the regular stresses of life during spells of anxiety.
7) CBD relieves pain. This is by far the most dramatic thing that CBD does for me personally. To be able to have relief from the pain that is debilitating you and locking you within your body feels like absolute freedom.
8) CBD suppresses muscles spasms. I actually had to think about the last time I had muscle spasms because it has been a while. I used to get them all the time before I started using medicinal cannabis but now they are something that I used to get.
9) CBD reduces blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can cause havoc in the body. Ask any person with diabetes and they will tell you that regulating your blood sugar is vital to one’s health and vitality.
10) CBD reduces seizures. I don’t have personal experience with this one but I do know of people who have been able to reduce and in some cases stop the seizures that they experience by using high CBD cannabis.
11) CBD inhibits cancer cell growth. Oh, did I mention it fights cancer?
I am just scratching the surface here of what CBDs can do for the body but that is a pretty impressive list, isn’t it?
How does one effectively get CBDs in their body? You’ll have to first seek out cannabis strains and medicines that contain high CBD. This will require a little homework and probably a little shopping around to find the one that is right for you. The most superior ways that I have found to get CBD through cannabis is by regularly taking it orally or applying it topically to the skin.
I would just like to add that my life drastically changed for the better when I found cannabis medicines with high CBDs. Thankfully I live in a part of the world that allows me to have safe access to this medicine.
May you have safe access to CBD too.