In a report published in South Florida Hospital News, Dr. Gregory Lee Gerdeman, Ph.D. says that testimonials from patients and their families keep fueling public support for medical cannabis and its widespread use across a variety of ailments. But, he notes that medical professionals need to take this seriously, since there is a large body of scientific evidence that lends it credibility. “Biomedical research has yielded a trove of discovery about the endocannabinoid system (ECS),” he says.
Endocannabinoids are lipid signaling molecules produced all over the body originally believed to be confined to nervous tissues. They act as paracrine signals serving a wide variety of homeostatic functions. Paracrine signaling is a form of cell to cell communication in which a cell produces a signal to induce changes in nearby cells, altering the behavior or differentiation of those cells.
Herein lie the endless possibilities cannabis cannabinoids offer as a medicine. Research is gaining momentum and discovering more and more possibilities; it seems that only the surface has been scratched.
Possible functions of cannabinoids range from the neuroendocrine control over eating and metabolism, to bone remodeling, to pleiotropic effects on inflammatory immune function, to the more familiar anti-seizure effects on epilepsy, to name but a few.
Pain is often caused by inflammation especially in the case of neuropathic pain, (pain caused by problems with signals from the nerves) and pain in the joints caused by Rheumatism. Increasing clinical data shows cannabinoids bring relief of pain by regulating the central neural circuits in the brain actively and reducing inflammation. This regulation of central neural circuits also applies to fear or anxiety, stress and emotional imbalance, not only to pain. “The scientific literature supporting these broad claims are extensive and of high caliber, and is actively disseminated to the public at various degrees of sophistication”. States Dr. Gerdeman.
Cannabinoids as medication have proved to be significant
The FDA has already approved two medications that contain cannabinoids in pill form. These medications are used for nausea, especially after chemotherapy treatments and to increase appetite. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NID) clearly confirms that CBD is a cannabinoid that does not affect the mind or behavior and that it is useful in reducing pain caused by inflammation, controlling epileptic seizure and possibly even treating mental illness and addiction.
As clinical trails are conducted we will see cannabinoids being accepted as a powerful medicines for treating a wide range of illness and as Dr. Gerdeman says, after 20 years of research, he is still surprised by the untapped depth of its value. Research continues at a rapid pace and more and more health practitioners are taking note.
Dr. Gerdeman, Assistant Professor of Biology at Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg has been actively involved in researching the neuroscience and pharmacological effect of cannabis on the endocannabinoid system since 1996. He encourages healthcare professionals to look into cannabinoids for treating patients and get involved in a critical evaluation thereof, engage with the subject matter, and comment on legislation preventing honest patients from benefiting from CBD. He concludes by advising doctors to: “Educate yourselves to form an opinion and ethical position on the use of criminal sanctions to deny access to medical marijuana. As for me, I believe that measures like Amendment 2 are a cautious approach and a moral imperative”.