It’s True: Medical Cannabis Provides Dramatic Relief for Sufferers of Chronic Ailments

Though controversial, medical cannabis has been gaining ground as a valid therapy, offering relief to suffers of diseases such as cancer, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, ALS and more. The substance is known to soothe severe pain, increase the appetite, and ease insomnia where other common medications fail.

In 2009, Zach Klein, a graduate of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Film and Television Studies, directed the documentary Prescribed Grass. Through the process, he developed an interest in the scientific research behind medical marijuana, and now, as a specialist in policy-making surrounding medical cannabis and an MA student at TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies, he is conducting his own research into the benefits of medical cannabis.

320px-Cannabis_macroUsing marijuana from a farm called Tikkun Olam — a reference to the Jewish concept of healing the world — Klein and his fellow researchers tested the impact of the treatment on 19 residents of the Hadarim nursing home in Israel. The results, Klein says, have been outstanding. Not only did participants experience dramatic physical results, including healthy weight gain and the reduction of pain and tremors, but Hadarim staff saw an immediate improvement in the participants’ moods and communication skills. The use of chronic medications was also significantly reduced, he reports.

Klein’s research team includes Dr. Dror Avisar of TAU’s Hydrochemistry Laboratory at the Department of Geography and Human Environment; Prof. Naama Friedmann andRakefet Keider of TAU’s Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education; Dr. Yehuda Baruch of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and director of the Abarbanel Mental Health Center; and Dr. Moshe Geitzen and Inbal Sikorin of Hadarim.

Cutting down on chronic medications

Israel is a world leader in medical cannabis research, Klein says. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, was first discovered there by Profs. Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni. Prof. Mechoulam is also credited for having defined the endocannabinoid system, which mimics the effects of cannabis and plays a role in appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory.

In the Hadarim nursing home, 19 patients between the ages of 69 and 101 were treated with medical cannabis in the form of powder, oil, vapor, or smoke three times daily over the course of a year for conditions such as pain, lack of appetite, and muscle spasms and tremors. Researchers and nursing home staff monitored participants for signs of improvement, as well as improvement in overall life quality, such as mood and ease in completing daily living activities.

During the study, 17 patients achieved a healthy weight, gaining or losing pounds as needed. Muscle spasms, stiffness, tremors and pain reduced significantly. Almost all patients reported an increase in sleeping hours and a decrease in nightmares and PTSD-related flashbacks.

There was a notable decline in the amount of prescribed medications taken by patients, such as antipsychotics, Parkinson’s treatment, mood stabilizers, and pain relievers, Klein found, noting that these drugs have severe side effects. By the end of the study, 72 percent of participants were able to reduce their drug intake by an average of 1.7 medications a day.

Connecting cannabis and swallowing

This year, Klein is beginning a new study at Israel’s Reuth Medical Center with Drs. Jean-Jacques Vatine and Aviah Gvion, in which he hopes to establish a connection between medical cannabis and improved swallowing. One of the biggest concerns with chronically ill patients is food intake, says Klein. Dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing, can lead to a decline in nutrition and even death. He believes that cannabis, which has been found to stimulate regions of the brain associated with swallowing reflexes, will have a positive impact.

Overall, Klein believes that the healing powers of cannabis are close to miraculous, and has long supported an overhaul in governmental policy surrounding the drug. Since his film was released in 2009, the number of permits for medical cannabis in Israel has increased from 400 to 11,000. His research is about improving the quality of life, he concludes, especially for those who have no other hope.

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

5 thoughts on “It’s True: Medical Cannabis Provides Dramatic Relief for Sufferers of Chronic Ailments”

  1. The effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of cancer patients has long been known. The use of cannabis to treat PTSD is quite a new concept. I find it interesting that Klein based most of his research on a group of elderly patients. The fact that the research was based on this group of people might pose the question of whether the effect of cannabis on cognitive functions was actually effectively measured during the research, as elderly people could already have some level of impaired cognitive function. The research would have been perhaps more credible if he used a younger group in conjunction with his original group. The negative effects of cannabis on the brain cannot be ignored when dealing with cannabis as a medicinal plant against pain. From the article it’s not evident that Klein considered the health risks associated with cannabis when he did the study. Long term use of cannabis can cause high levels of anxiety and block signals in the brain, eventually causing lowered intelligence. The way cannabis neurologically works is very complex. The same neurological effect that relieves pain, might also cause long term damage in the brain. That said, it is also important to consider that all pain medication will have some kind of negative long term effect on the brain, take morphine for example. In light of this, when considering the use of cannabis to relieve chronic pain, people’s basis of objection has no ground anymore. The same health risks associated with other pain medication is also associated with cannabis. Cannabis might even be safer. I think the only reason for people’s hesitance towards the use of cannabis as a legally prescribed pain killer is its reputation as a narcotic substance often abused. The occurrence of abusing prescription drugs however is just as high and there’s a lot going on under the radar in terms of medical narcotic abuse. Looking at cannabis as just another narcotic on a pharmacy shelf might be a strange concept for many, but in reality that is exactly what cannabis actually is, without all the added chemicals of other narcotic drugs, making it perhaps healthier than most drugs out there.

  2. two things.

    One the endocannabinoid system does not mimic the effects of marijuana. It is quiet obviously the other way round, the endocannabinoid system is an important system in the body and is involved in many areas from neuronal communication to immune suppression. The phytocannabinoids in marijuana have similar structures to the endcocannabinoids produced by our body and therefore cause an unnatural cannabinoid response in the body. Just like opium effects the endo-opiod system and steroids effect the endo-steroid system.

    Two, there is much, much, better research out there than a non-blinded, non-placebo study on 19 people.

  3. Cannabinoids are a very useful class of drugs and this has been known for years. This is hardly news to me or many other individuals for that matter. If it were never demonized by the government and media, it would be widely used medicinally and recreationally.

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