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domenica 11 dicembre 2016

Marijuana Can Help Battle Depression, Anxiety, Addiction




The most comprehensive research review ever done on the topic found that marijuana can help battle depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even addictions to alcohol and painkillers

Canadian psychologists pored over 60 published studies and articles, half of which examined the effects of medical marijuana, while the other half looked at recreational use. Because cannabis research is so young, pulling data from both types of studies provides the best confirmation yet that pot really can enhance — or even save — lives.

The researchers took up this review in order to give doctors solid evidence to inform their conversations with patients. “There is so little guidance in this area, which inspired us to do this work,” says lead study author Zach Walsh, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia. “I get so many calls from colleagues asking what to tell patients who use cannabis to help deal with an alcohol dependency or depression or a bad back.”
Of course, anecdotal evidence has long pointed to pot’s mental-health benefits. “In general, people who use cannabis say it helps them relax and reduces anxiety,” Walsh says. “And we know that many PTSD sufferers are using cannabis to treat their symptoms.” Now with more hard science backing its use for both anxiety and PTSD, he hopes doctors will talk more openly and realistically about marijuana with their patients. Just like any drug, it won’t work for everyone and can have side effects, but Walsh firmly believes it should be part of the conversation.

ALSO: Get High, Train Harder

The evidence for clinical depression wasn’t quite as strong as for PTSD and anxiety, but it was solid enough to suggest marijuana may help. “Depression is often co-occurring with chronic pain or other health issues,” Walsh says. “Many say medical cannabis improves mood while also addressing primary symptoms.”
For those with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, however, weed is likely too risky. Walsh says it can exacerbate psychosis. “That said, many schizophrenics use cannabis — and it’s not because it makes them feel worse,” he adds. “But definitely use caution if you may have either of these conditions. A high-THC cannabis, especially, may increase mania.”
Multiple large studies showed that marijuana may be a godsend for people plagued by an opiate addiction. “It’s the substitution effect,” Walsh says. “When you replace a harmful drug with a less harmful drug, it’s a big benefit from a public health standpoint. In some states where medical marijuana is legal, there has been a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdoses.” Research also suggests weed may help alcoholics ween off booze.
Obviously, much of America faces one big roadblock to reaching for cannabis: the law. But as prohibition quickly crumbles away, more people are gaining access to marijuana and more doctors — and even some addiction professionals — are becoming comfortable with the drug. It’s also opening the door for research, which should further solidify cannabis’s medicinal value.
“I believe cannabis should be treated the same as other medicines,” says Walsh. “It should be held to the same standards and subject to the same risk-versus-benefit evaluations. We know that its negative effects are certainly tolerable compared to those of many medications we use, so let’s not leave behind all the people who aren’t finding relief in traditional therapies.”

Study: Marijuana Can Help Battle Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and Addiction Melaina Juntti

Medical cannabis and mental health: A guided systematic review 
  • Zach Walsha
  • Raul Gonzalezb
  • Kim Crosbya
  • Michelle S. Thiessena
  • Chris Carrolla
  • Marcel O. Bonn-Millerc 
  • 12 October 2016

    Marijuana may help combat substance abuse, mental health disorders Honor Whiteman 16 November 2016

    The largest studies to date, by arguably the most respected institutions up to this point, show that psilocybin, a compound within "magic mushrooms", can be effective in treating depression and anxiety in cancer patients. 
    The studies were carried out on 29 patients by researchers at New York University (NYU) and on 51 patients at Johns Hopkins University.
    Notably, up to 40% of all cancer patients are afflicted by psychological issues related to their illness.
    Around 80% of the cancer patients in the studies got noticeably better after just one dose. And they sustained the psychological gains they made for up to seven months, with few minor side effects. Patients reported improvements in their quality of life, having more energy, going out more and having better relationships with family members. 
    Interestingly, those who had a stronger trip reported the strongest gains in alleviating their depression and anxiety.
    A number of authorities in psychiatry and addiction medicine expressed their support for the work. These include Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association and Dr. Daniel Shalev from the New York State Psychiatric Institutewho wrote that the studies are ”a model for revisiting criminalized compounds of interest in a safe, ethical way.” 
    The studies were also reviewed by regulators and were described by the New York Times as "most meticulous" to date.
    The lead author of the Johns Hopkins study, psychiatrist Dr. Roland Griffiths, was optimistic on the possibilities of the new treatment, likening it to a groundbreaking surgery rather than the painstaking work to make feel people better used by traditional psychiatric approaches.  
    “I really don’t think we have any models in psychiatry that look like” the effects demonstrated in the two trials, said Griffiths. “Something occurs and it’s repaired and it’s better going forward … very plausibly for more than six months,” he added. “In that sense it’s a new model.”
    One of the participants in the study, Sherry Marcydescribed the changes in how she felt this way: 
    "The cloud of doom seemed to just lift… I got back in touch with my family and kids, and my wonder at life," said Marcy, whose been battling cancer from 2010. "Before, I was sitting alone at home, and I couldn't move … This study made a huge difference, and it's persisted."
    The particulars of both studies involved randomly offering patients either psilocybin or a placebo at the first session, and then giving them the opposite treatment seven weeks later. This way all participants eventually took psilocybin. In both studies, the success rate of psilocybin versus the placebo was very clear, with 83% getting better on psilocybin and only 14% on the placebo in the NYU study. 
    Psilocybin have been banned in the U.S. for over 40 years. While they were allowed to use it for their studies, the scientists warn against self-medicating depression by taking "magic mushrooms". They caution that professionals are needed to control the dosage and provide a supportive environment in which to experience the drug's effects. The psilocybin therapy may also not be appropriate for people with schizophrenia or young adults.
    To move forward in this field, Dr. Shalev and Dr. Lieberman see a need to loosen research restrictions, because "there is much potential for new scientific insights and clinical applications.” Ideally, the next step would be a trial with a larger sample, perhaps across several centers with hundreds of subjects. 
    Not everyone is on board. Dr. William Breitbart, chairman of the psychiatry department at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center expressed his reservations about the use of cancer patients for the study.
    Medical marijuana got its foot in the door by making the appeal that ‘cancer patients are suffering, they’re near death, so for compassionate purposes, let’s make it available,’ ” he said. “And then you’re able to extend this drug to other purposes.” 
    The positive effect of psilocybin on depression was also demonstrated by studies earlier this year.
    The current studies are published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, with the NYU study available here and the John Hopkins study here. 

    Studies: One Dose of "Psilocybin" from Magic Mushrooms Relieves Depression in 80% of Cancer Patients December 4, 2016

    British Government Finally Admits Marijuana has a Medicinal Value 11 DICEMBRE 2016


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