Tension Headache

Tension headache is the most common of headaches, experienced by 70-90% of people at some time in their life. It is associated with a muscular tension in the head and neck. It may cause tightness or pressure on the forehead or sides of the head, and the pain may move into the shoulders. Stress may bring it on, and smoking may increase its risk. Chronic daily headaches are often rebound from overuse of pain medicines. Some people have withdrawal headaches of this type when weaning from pain medicines, accompanied by nausea, restlessness, diarrhea, trouble sleeping and trembling. It may also be present with other symptoms of low serotonin, such as fatigue, craving for sweets or chocolate, and general muscle aches.   Standard medical treatments: NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Pain medicine Analgesics Physical therapy Exercise   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – 5HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid derivative, pre-serotonin Magnesium – muscle relaxant Biofeedback Relaxation therapies Stress management Chiropractic Massage therapy Hypnosis Acupuncture Hydrotherapy – warm or cold compresses   Tension Headache and Cannabis Cannabis is particularly useful for conditions that include symptoms of muscle spasm and pain, such as tension headaches. It can be used internally and topically, applied directly to the site of tension. According to a recent report of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, the first U.S. clinical trials in more than two decades on the medical benefits of marijuana confirm that it is effective in reducing muscle spasms (associated with multiple sclerosis). A further study supported by the center examined the effectiveness of cannabis in treating migraine headaches and facial pain. In that study, rats given a cannabis-like drug exhibited reduced activity of nerve cells that transmit pain. Many patients find that marijuana is additionally useful in reducing stress that may be contributing to the headache, providing more effective relief than any  one pharmaceutical medicine....

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Seizure Disorder / Epilepsy

Epilepsies are a group of disorders characterized by sudden, recurrent and episodic changes in neurological function caused by abnormalities in the electrical activity of the brain. These are measured by an EEG. Each episode is called a seizure. Seizures are associated with excessive neuronal activation in the brain. 6% of the U.S. population will develop at least one seizure in their lifetime. Epilepsy may be due to a neurologic injury, infection, structural brain lesion, toxicity to the brain or other undetermined causes. The course of a seizure disorder is often marked with remissions, periods of 2 to 5 years without a seizure. This generally occurs while the patient is taking an anti-seizure medicine. Relapses may happen even while on medication or when the medicine is withdrawn. Standard medical treatments: Anti-seizure medicines – Dilantin, Tegretol, Depakote, Lamictal, Neurontin, Topomax Benzodiazepenes, especially for alcohol withdrawal Treat concurrent medical problems – electrolyte disorders, alcoholism Ketogenic diet Vagus nerve stimulation Brain surgery   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – assess and balancing of minerals – magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium Glutathione infusions – strong anti-oxidant Vitamin B6 and folic acid Taurine, GABA calms – promotes GABA levels Vitamin E – anti-oxidant Melatonin – regulates brain sleep cycle Herbal – Coleus forskolii – decreases cAMP Bupleuri radix – decreases cAMP Skullcap – muscle relaxant Brainwave biofeedback Detoxify neurotoxic chemicals – Heavy metals Acupuncture Homeopathy – aconitum   Seizure Disorder and Cannabis  Anti-seizure medications are always preferred by neurologists, yet some patients prefer to use cannabis to treat seizure disorder due to reduced side effects compared to the medications. If this is the case, it’s important to take it regularly as with any medication. In a  June 8, 2004 article, “Marijuana Use and Epilepsy; Prevalence in Patients of a Tertiary Care Epilepsy Center,” published in Neurology, it states, “Twenty-one percent of subjects had used marijuana in the past year with the majority of active users reporting beneficial effects on seizures. Twenty-four percent of all subjects believed marijuana was an effective therapy for epilepsy. Despite limited evidence of efficacy, many patients with epilepsy believe marijuana is an effective therapy for epilepsy and are actively using it.” It is not only THC, but Cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis has also been noted to have antiepileptic properties. As yet no clinical trials have been done to test the efficacy of cannabis or CBD compared to other medications in the treatment of seizure...

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic autoimmune inflammatory disease characterized by joint synovitis (inflammation) with pain, swelling and stiffness. It generally appears between ages 25-40. More than 60% are women. The joints involved are usually bilateral wrists, hands, elbows, knees and ankles. Because this is a progressive, destructive disease the goal of therapy is more than simple pain relief, but disease remission is important. The goal of treatment aims toward achieving the lowest possible level of arthritis disease activity, the minimization of joint damage, and enhancing physical function and quality of life. As in all autoimmune disorders, decreasing the person’s hyperactive immune response is integral to therapy.   Standard medical treatments: NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Steroid therapy DMARDS – disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs Physical therapy Ambulation aids Water exercise   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – eliminate food allergens Raw vegetable juice fasting Vitamin C – anti-inflammatory and immune support DHEA – steroid pro-hormone, supports adrenal function Fish oil / Flax oil – anti-inflammatory Herbal – White willow bark – anti-inflammatory salicylate Cat’s claw – anti-inflammatory, decreases swelling Devil’s claw – anti-inflammatory, reduces pain Boswelia – anti-inflammatory, promotes cartilage growth Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, chinese herbal liniment Massage Acupuncture Chiropractic   Rheumatoid Arthritis and Cannabis Many RA patients find cannabis useful in treating the pain and stiffness caused by their disease. What is less commonly understood is that cannabis is a promising therapy to halt the progression of the disease due to its anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects. Americans for Safe Access stated in their 2005 brochure titled Arthritis and Medical Marijuana:”Cannabis has a demonstrated ability to improve mobility and reduce morning stiffness and inflammation. Research has also shown that patients are able to reduce their usage of potentially harmful Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when using cannabis as an adjunct therapy.” As early as 2003, cannabis use was found to modulate the immune system. In the September 2005 issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology, researchers in Japan concluded, “Cannabinoid therapy of RA could provide symptomatic relief to joint pain and swelling as well as suppressing joint destruction and disease progression.” The use of cannabis to treat symptoms of RA is commonly self-reported by patients with the disease. In a 2005 questionnaire survey of medicinal cannabis patients in Australia, 25 percent reported using cannabinoids to treat RA. A survey of British medicinal cannabis patients found that more than 20 percent of respondents reported using cannabis for symptoms of arthritis. The first study to use a cannabis-based medicine for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis done in Great Britain in 2005 has found that it has a significant effect on easing pain, improving the quality of sleep  and on suppressing the...

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Pelvic Pain and Premenstrual Syndrome

The most common syndrome of pelvic pain in women is associated with PMS (premenstrual syndrome), including premenstrual cramping, Other pelvic pain syndromes include endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Most pelvic pain issues can benefit from hormonal balancing therapies. PMS – is a hormonal disorder with a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms that affects about 50% of menstruating women. Symptoms may begin up to a week prior to menses and last into the first few days of the cycle. There is often pelvic/abdominal cramping and bloating, craving for sweets or chocolate, fatigue, breast tenderness and/or mood swings. Evaluation of all hormonal systems including thyroid, adrenal and blood sugar is important. Standard medical treatments: SSRIs (serotonin regulating antidepressants) NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Birth control medicines Exercise Treating any underlying medical condition Pain medicine   Supportive and alternative therapies: Nutritional – Avoid caffeine, sugar, salt, fats, alcohol, chocolate Vitamin B Mineral supplement (kelp) Omega-3 fatty acids, evening primrose oil 5-HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid derivative, pre-serotonin Herbal – Cramp bark – relieves cramps Dioscorea – supports hormone balance Dong Quai – female hormone tonic Vitex – supports pituitary hormonal stimulation Progesterone therapy Estrogen therapy Stress management Massage therapy Psychotherapy Relaxation therapy   Pelvic Pain and Cannabis Patients with dysmennorhea (painful menses) and other pelvic pain disorders use cannabis regularly to alleviate pain and uterine cramping.  Interstitial Cystitis, an inflammatory bladder disorder, often not resolved using standard medical treatments, is treated effectively with cannabis as well.  IC patients report that marijuana controls their pain and bladder symptoms without the difficult side effects of pain medication. In 2007, IC researcher s at the Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Medicine released an animal study which showed that a synthetic analog of THC was found to suppress urinary frequency via cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are now known to be involved in pain regulation. Researchers from the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR)  recently released a report for the State of California legislature which found “reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment for some specific, pain-related medical conditions.”  Marijuana’s capacity to act as an anti-inflammatory agent, a muscle-relaxant, and a pain reliever all at the same time make it ideal for pelvic pain conditions, as well as its ability to elevate mood in cases of PMS....

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Osteoarthritis (OA)

OA is a degenerative joint disease that results in firm, bony enlargement on a joint, leading to swelling, pain and stiffness. It most often occurs in the fingers, neck, low back, and knees. Mostly this occurs in older age. One in two people develop OA by age 65. Risk factors include age, previous damage from injury, overuse, or excess weight.   Standard medical treatments: NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Aspirin Steroids Physical therapy Water exercise   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Avoid nightshades Glucosamine sulfate – well researched anti-inflammatory Shark cartilage – anti-inflammatory and promotes cartilage repair Chondroitin Sulfate – promotes cartilage repair MSM – methylsulfonylmethane – joint support Bromelain – enzymatic anti-inflammatory Ginger – anti-inflammatory Curcumin – anti-inflammatory (from tumeric) Herbal – White willow bark – anti-inflammatory salicylate Cat’s claw – anti-inflammatory, decreases swelling Devil’s claw – anti-inflammatory, reduces pain Yucca – anti-inflammatory Horsetail – has silica to strengthen connective tissue Boswelia – anti-inflammatory, promotes cartilage growth Homeopathy – Traumeel – combination remedy for inflammation and would healing Zeel – combination remedy for arthritic joint pain Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, Chinese herbal liniment Acupuncture Chiropractic Massage therapy   Osteoarthritis and Cannabis Evidence from recent research suggests that cannabis-based therapies are effective in the treatment of arthritis and the other and degenerative back and joint disorders. Since these are frequently extremely painful conditions, the well-documented analgesic properties of cannabis make it useful in treating the pain associated with arthritis, both on its own and as an adjunct therapy that enhances the efficacy of opiates. In addition, cannabis helps to loosen stiff backs and joints due to its muscle-relaxant properties. Topical applications of cannabis can be applied to the affected area without causing psychoactive effects, and provide a safe, potent method of delivery with few side effects. In addition, medical marijuana patients often find that they can accomplish more movement, more stretching, and get a better work-out while medicated....

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