Degenerative Disc Disease

Discs are soft cushions between the vertebral bones of the spine. The disc has a gel in the center. With aging the disc becomes flatter and less cushiony. If a disc becomes too weak, its cover may tear, the inside part of the disc may push through the tear, herniate, and press on the nerve beside it. Herniated discs are most common in the lumbar or cervical spine, occurring in people in their 30s and 40s. When a disc presses on a lumbar or cervical nerve it can cause pain in the back and the legs, or the arms. The extremities may become numb or tingly. This usually gets worse with activity and better with rest. Coughing, sitting, driving, and bending forward or neck constriction may make the pain worse.   Standard medical treatments: NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Rest Pain medicine Stretching Exercises to strengthen the back and stomach or neck muscles Steroid injections Physical therapy Surgery   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Vitamin B – for nerve repair Magnesium – muscle relaxant Bromelain – enzymatic anti-inflammatory Glucosamine sulfate – well researched anti-inflammatory Serrapeptase – enzymatic anti-inflammatory and dissolves scar tissue Homeopathy – Traumeel – combination remedy for inflammation and would healing Hypericum – for nerve pain Zeel – combination remedy for arthritic joint pain Symphytum – for bone and periosteum healing Acupuncture Chiropractic Massage therapy Rolfing – deep tissue massage Biofeedback   Inverse gravity device Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down or at an inverted angle.  Many devices have boots that fit your feet to allow you to hang against the force of gravity. inversion therapy is particularly beneficial for the spine in that it relieves pressure on the discs and nerve roots; this allows discs to recover lost moisture and to return to their original shape, decreasing the pressure they can exert on nerves. For someone about to begin a program of inversion therapy: Invert only 15 to 20 degrees at first, and stay inverted only about one minute to start. By spending a few minutes inverted each day, or two or three times a day, results are noticeable within a week. Always consult a medical or chiropractic physician before starting an inversion program, as there are certain conditions in which this would be contraindicated.   Degenerative Disc Disease and Cannabis   Cannabis is especially helpful for neuropathic pain, such as that caused by the pressure of a disc upon a nerve, as well as pain and inflammation. It can provide relief from the pain itself, often reduce the amount of opiate medication used, as it has a synergistic effect with pain medications, and it can help with the side effects of other medications, such as nausea, dizziness or gastrointestinal upset. It can be used internally and/or topically, applied directly to the affected area, to provide relief without psychoactive effects. In a 2005 study of the therapeutic role of cannabis for back pain due to degenerated discs done in the UK, it was found that “64.7%of the patients stated the symptoms of their illness to have‘much improved’ after cannabis ingestion, 29.4%stated to have ‘slightly improved’. 76.4% statedto be ‘very satisfied’ with their therapeutic useof cannabis.”...

read more

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve compression syndrome. It is characterized by nerve pain and numbness or tingling and weakness of the hand. It is common in professions that involve repetitive hand movements over long periods of time, such as computer work. This produces continuous pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the wrist (through the carpal tunnel) into the fingers. Swelling causes a decrease in the size of the canal or an increase in the size of the tissues that run through it.  Carpal tunnel is a feedback situation. The inflammatory response itself can cause pain, and more swelling causes more pain. It’s important to break the pain/inflammation cycle. The pressure on the nerve is worsened by positioning the wrist in extreme positions of flexion or extension. This results in decreased conductivity of the median nerve.   Standard medical treatments: NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Splinting Activity modification* (it’s really important to rest the overused hand) Steroid injections Surgery   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nuritional – Vitamin B6 – nerve nutrient Magnesium – muscle relaxant Flax oil / fish oil – anti-inflammatory Bromelain – enzymatic anti-inflammatory Homeopathy – Traumeel – combination remedy for inflammation and would healing Hypericum – for nerve pain Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, Chinese herbal liniment Acupuncture Chiropractic Massage therapy   Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cannabis                 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a mononeuropathy, a specialized type of neuropathic pain accompanied by swelling and inflammation. Cannabis has been known to be effective for nerve pain since the 1800s. Patients often report that they achieve better control of neuropathic pain with cannabis than with many other medications and can often decrease or eliminate their need for Neurontin or Lyrica. It is also helpful used topically for Carpal Tunnel, applied directly to the inflamed area for pain relief and as an anti-inflammatory without psychoactive effects. Many medical marijuana patients report faster resolution of Carpal Tunnel symptoms by incorporating cannabis into their treatment...

read more

Cancer

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancerous cells are also called malignant cells. Cancer is primarily an environmental disease, though genetics influence the risk of some cancers. Common environmental factors that may lead to cancer include: tobacco, diet and obesity, infections, radiation, lack of physical activity, and environmental pollutants. Chemotherapy is a prominent feature in cancer treatment. While it has great impact on cancer cells, it also affects other cells in your body causing undesirable symptoms. These may include severe nausea, vomiting, fatigue, low appetite (anorexia) and depression, and delayed nausea also often develops 3-4 days after treatment and is usually unresponsive to standard anti-emetic treatment. Some cancer drugs actually cause intestinal secretion of serotonin which binds to cells on nerves involved in the vomiting center. Radiation Therapy is a local treatment that damages the DNA of cells. It affects tissues  surrounding  the area of cancer cells causing nutritional dysfunction when gastrointestinal tract structures or the central nervous system is irradiated. Side effects are limited to the treated area, as well as the typical cancer fatigue and depression. These may include nausea, headache, anorexia, dysphagia, malabsorbtion, or malnutrition.   Standard medical treatments: Chemotherapy Radiation therapy Immunotherapy Surgery Anti-anxiety drugs – helps with chemo low appetite Anti-depressants   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – detoxifying raw food diet Vitamin C – anti-inflammatory, depleted in radiation tx, take after tx is over Vitamin E – antioxidant, depleted in radiation tx, take after x is over Kelp – nutritional and detoxifying minerals Selenium – antioxidant, especially for radiation Fish oil / flax oil – essential fatty acids, anti-inflammatory Ginger – treats nausea Herbal – Cat’s claw – helps white blood cell counts Astralagus – reverses immune suppression Reishi – increases blood cell counts Chaparral – protects against radiation, anti-neoplastic (use only with supervision) Peppermint – stimulates appetite Homeopathy Acupuncture Relaxation therapy   Cancer and Cannabis The benefit of cannabis for cancer patients has traditionally been centered upon its relief of nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite that may be a consequence of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In fact, cannabis has often proven more effective than any other medication, and has long been prescribed in the form of Marinol, the only federally approved form of THC. In addition, marijuana is used to treat the chronic pain or depression that may accompany cancer treatments. But, recent scientific research has found that cannabinoids can affect tumor growth as well. It is generally agreed that if anything, cannabis does not cause cancer, rather in some cases, it may inhibit the growth of tumors. This has best been studied in the case of Gliomas, where cannbinoids have been shown to decrease the growth of these tumors in experimental  animals.  In a recent (2006) article on the effects of CBD on breast cancer cells, the authors comment, “To date, cannabinoids have been successfully used in the treatment of nausea and vomiting, two common side effects that accompany chemotherapy in cancer patients. Nevertheless, the use of cannabinoids in oncology might be somehow underestimated since increasing evidence exist that plant, synthetic, and endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) are able to exert a growth-inhibitory action on various cancer cell types.“ Currently researchers are investigating the effects of cannabinoids on several forms of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, skin, and the...

read more

Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the name given to a set of symptoms usually first experienced and diagnosed in childhood. These include difficulty concentrating, impulsivity, distractibility, and in the case of ADHD – hyperactivity, or difficulty staying still, sitting in one place, etc. This disorder has been linked to a dysfunction of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It is estimated that up to 50-70% of those diagnosed with childhood ADD/ADHD can continue to have these symptoms into adulthood.   Standard medical treatments: Psychostimulants – Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine, Cyclert, Stratera, etc. Antidepressants – Wellbutrin Tricyclic antidepressants Beta-blockers Cognitive behavioral counseling Learning aids Exercise Some of the side effects of these medications are problematic, especially when used in children or young adults whose nervous systems are still developing. The use of these medications has not been in practice long enough to adequately assess the long term impact on adults who have used them throughout their childhood. Significant unwelcome effects include difficulty in sleeping and low appetite. This is no surprise as the primary medications used are stimulants which have a history of use as “diet pills”.   Supportive and alternative treatments:   Nutritional – Neurotransmitter testing and balancing Elimination of allergens, especially food dye and sugar L-Tyrosine, phenylalanine – amino acids, pre-dopamine Herbal – Gotu kola – brain tonic Chamomille – calming Passionflower – relaxant Skullcap – muscle relaxant Homeopathy Brainwave biofeedback Acupuncture Remove heavy metals Meditation   ADD/ADHD and Cannabis The use of marijuana to treat this disorder in young people has to include a consideration of the risk/benefit ratio of the effects of cannabis on youth. The efficacy of marijuana to help ADD/ADHD has mixed reviews. There are many factors that are involved in causing an individual’s symptoms beyond whether hyperactivity is or is not part of the picture. For example, if hyperactivity is present, then a calming effect may be helpful, yet for simple ADD a stimulant effect may be more appropriate.  Further, there is often the complication of a patient currently taking pharmaceutical medication, or having to adjust to recently stopping his/her medication. In addition, there are many variable effects of marijuana depending on the strain used and preparation method. No wonder it’s hard to know whether marijuana can help in an individual case. If you can understand your own physiology and what your body needs to be balanced then you may know how to choose an appropriate cannabis product to help. Finally, there is always caution in recommending cannabis to youth. This is a personal decision, but it may be fair to say that cannabis would be recommended more to treat adult ADD/ADHD than for a childhood diagnosis. Nevertheless, when faced with the effects of a stimulant versus the effects of marijuana, a more prudent choice may be the herbal compound....

read more

Asthma

Asthma is characterized by continuous or intermittent labored breathing with wheezing due to constriction of the bronchioles (air passages) in the lungs. People with asthma have an immune system that is overprotective to their lungs. Mucus producing cells line the airways as a protective mechanism. In asthma, too much mucus is produced, which clogs the airways, and accompanied by a constriction of the bronchioles, the airways are too small. The result is that less air is able to flow in and out of the lungs. Asthma attacks are frequently allergic in origin, though some may be triggered by infectious causes such as viral or bacterial bronchitis. Anything that irritates the lungs can trigger an asthma attack. Some are brought on by changes in temperature of the lungs from weather or exercise.   Standard medical treatments: Inhaled bronchodilators – albuterol Systemic bronchodilators – singulair Inhaled steroids – azmacort Inhaled ipratropium – relieves bronchospasm Systemic steroids Inhaled antihistamine – cromolyn sodium Avoidance of environmental triggers   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – treat food allergies and avoid triggers such as food dye and preservatives Quercitin – anti-histamine bioflavinoid Caffeine or theophylline – coffee, black or green tea Flax / fish oil – anti-inflammatory Magnesium – muscle relaxant Herbal- Ma Huang (Chinese ephedra) – bronchodilator, use only with supervision Horehound – bronchodilator and decreases mucus Coltsfoot – decreases histamine response Osha – bronchodilator, antiviral, antibacterial Stinging nettles – decreases histamine response Lobelia – anti-spasmodic for the bronchioles Grindelia – liquefies mucus Homeopathy Acupuncture Breathing practices – i.e. play a wind instrument, yoga, chi gong Vaporized eucalyptus or thyme Relaxation therapy   Asthma and Cannabis Clinical research shows that THC acts as a bronchial dilator, clearing blocked air passageways and allowing free breathing. In one study, marijuana, “caused an immediate reversal of exercise-induced asthma and hyperinflation.” Although smoking is not a good idea for anyone with asthma, smoking cannabis has been found to not be a cause of lung cancer. According to Dr. Donald Tashkin and his colleagues at the University of California in Los Angeles results from a 2006 case-controlled study of 1200 participants demonstrate that even heavy smoking of cannabis is not associated with lung cancer and other types of upper aerodigestive tract cancers. Vaporizing is a preferred method of delivery as it provides direct medicinal action to the lungs upon inhalation. Numerous cases of asthma have been treated successfully with both natural and synthetic THC. Some patients find that they can reduce their use of inhalers with vaporized cannabis....

read more

Anxiety

Anxiety Disorder is when worry is excessive and ongoing, and impedes normal functions. Associated symptoms may include trouble falling asleep, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, shortness of breath, pounding heartbeat, and fatigue. Panic Disorder refers to specific episodes of intense fear or anxiety with associated symptoms that occur suddenly. Some of these symptoms include heart racing, chest pain, shortness of breath, a feeling of choking, dizziness, nausea, cramping, sweating, tingling in the hands and feet, and chills or hot flashes. These episodes can last from minutes to hours. What triggers the panic attack may or may not always be obvious. Concurrent medical conditions may include mitral valve prolapse, cardiac arrhythmias, hyperthyroidism or seizures.   Standard medical treatments: Anti-anxiety medicines – Benzodiazepenes Buspar Antidepressants – SSRIs (serotonin regulating antidepressants) Cognitive behavioral therapy Treating any underlying medical condition Hypnotherapy   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – decrease caffeine, alcohol, other stimulants GABA – gamma amino benzoic acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter 5HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid derivative, pre-serotonin Herbal – Kava Kava – relaxant Passionflower – relaxant Oat seed – nerve calming and tonic Homeopathy – Calms forte Biofeedback Hormone balancing Acupuncture Relaxation therapy Meditation Massage therapy Aromatherapy.   Anxiety and Cannabis There are as many varied responses to using marijuana for anxiety as there are solutions.  A successful treatment for Anxiety or Panic Disorder seems to be more dependent on the individual than the therapy.  In fact, some patients report marijuana causing anxiety rather than alleviating it. The 1999 Institute of Medicine report on Marijuana and Medicine repeatedly acknowledges the anti-anxiety affects of marijuana.  The anxiety relieving mechanism of marijuana is still unclear and needs further steady.  What is clear is that the marijuana relieves some symptoms that are caused by a anxiety or panic disorder.  Studies indicate that it is the CBD (cannabidiol) in marijuana and not the THC has anti-anxiety...

read more

Anorexia

Anorexia is a term that refers to lack of appetite. It can be caused by a wide variety of chronic conditions and as a result of taking certain medications. It may lead to malnutrition and other nutritional deficiency problems. Anorexia associated with nausea is often a result of medication with these undesirable side effects, such as chemotherapy and antiviral medicines. This consequence is often found in HIV treatments, hepatitis treatments and cancer treatments. Loss of appetite also accompanies the use of stimulant medications such as those used for Attention Deficit Disorder.   Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder characterized by an extreme, self-inflicted weight loss at least 15% below normal and is associated with a lack of self esteem. It occurs most often is adolescent girls but also happens in males and adults. A family history of eating disorders occurs in 30% of patients. Not all patients with anorexia are of the food restricting type. Some may also binge and purge.   Standard medical treatments: Psychotherapy Nutritional counseling Electrolyte balancing Treatment of medical problems SSRIs (Serotonin regulating antidepressants) Weight boosting drinks(Ensure) Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – testing and replenishment with amino acids, vitamins and minerals Blue green algae Digestive enzymes Ginger – appetite stimulant Peppermint – appetite stimulant Protein powder supplement Homeopathy Hypnosis Acupuncture Flower essences   Anorexia and Cannabis Cannabinoids appear to regulate eating behavior at several levels within the brain and the intestinal system. Appetite stimulation by cannabinoids has been studied for several decades, particularly in relation to cachexia and malnutrition associated with cancer. The overwhelming evidence of hunger-inducing properties of cannabinoids in the physical condition of appetite loss known as cachexia is well-established. Marinol (dronabinol) is FDA approved for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with HIV/AIDS.  Early studies of dronabinol in this population showed promising increases in caloric intake and stabilization or gains in weight, and many patients with AIDS continue to use medical marijuana as an appetite stimulant. Cannabinoids may have minimal appetite stimulation effect in cases of classic anorexia nervosa. Very few trials have studied cannabinoids for this condition.  A pilot study of nine outpatients with anorexia nervosa treated with THC showed a significant improvement in depression and perfectionism scores without any significant weight gain. It is unclear whether the physiologic response to cannabinoids differs in anorexia nervosa patients from the normal response, or whether  the effect of cannabinoids is insufficient to overcome the strong drive for weight loss that these patients have. When marijuana is used to stimulate appetite, often one puff, smoked or vaporized is enough to be effective. It is important to take regular breaks from marijuana use, of a few days,  so that your body does not become dependent on cannabis to tell it when to be...

read more

Alzheimer’s Disease

The National Institute on Aging states in its booklet Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease, “Alzheimer’s disease is an illness of the brain. It causes large numbers of nerve cells in the brain to die. This affects your ability to remember things and think clearly. Doctors don’t know what causes the disease. They do know that it usually begins after age 60 and nearly half of people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer’s. However, it is not a normal part of aging…” An estimated 26.6 million people worldwide had Alzheimer’s in 2006; this number may quadruple by 2050. The mechanism involved in causing AD is not known, but there are some theories. The nervous tissue of the brain in people with Alzheimer’s shows an increase in abnormal structures called plaques and tangles. Plaques build up between nerve cells. They contain deposits of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid. Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau. Tangles form inside dying cells. The plaques and tangles tend to form in a predictable pattern, beginning in areas important in learning and memory and then spreading to other regions. In addition, levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter required for nerve conduction, are abnormally low in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.   Standard medical treatments: There are medicines that can treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. However, there is no cure. Some medicines keep memory loss and other symptoms from getting worse for a time. These medicines work best if Alzheimer’s disease is found early. FDA-approved drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for the degradation of acetylcholine. This serves to maintain higher levels of the deficient neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Donepezil (Aricept) Galantamine (Razadyne) Rivastigmine (Exelon) Behavioral and social issues Home safety Counseling for depression or anxiety Family counseling   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional Polyphenols — found in high concentrations in tea, nuts and berries, and red wine may inhibit    the buildup of toxic plaques Omega 3 fatty-acids – act as anti-oxidants for brain tissue Herbal Huperzine A – A moss extract used in traditional Chinese medicine that has properties similar to those of cholinesterase inhibitors. Studies have shown that Huperzine A may be as effective as the approved drugs.   Alzheimer’s Disease and Cannabis Research has shown that cannabinoids act as neuroprotective agents and anti-oxidants for nerve cells. The effect of cannabinoids on Alzheimer’s Disease has been studied in several laboratories globally in the past few years. Their findings concur that cannabinoids may slow the progression of AD. In addition, marijuana has also been shown to help appetite and weight gain in Alzheimer’s patients with anorexia. Scientists  at Scripps Institute have found that THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the study said, THC is “a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque] aggregation” to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease.” THC inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which acts as a “molecular chaperone” to accelerate the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of Alzheimer patients.  The use of cannabis in Alzheimer’s Disease should be used with caution, as it’s psychoactive properties can be disorienting. High CBD stains would be the best choice to avoid...

read more