Medical Conditions

Tension Headache

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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)

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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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Neuropathic Pain

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain results from damage to or dysfunction of the peripheral or central nervous system , triggered by trauma, infections and nervous system disorders. It is often characterized  by pain out of proportion to tissue injury.  Pain can develop after injury to any level of the nervous system, peripheral or central; the sympathetic nervous system may be involved. Specific syndromes include postherpetic neuralgia, root avulsions, painful traumatic mononeuropathy, painful polyneuropathy (particularly due to diabetes), central pain syndromes (potentially caused by any lesion at any level of the nervous system), postsurgical pain syndromes, and complex regional pain syndrome.  In 2007, a study cited in the Journal of Pain estimated that 170 to 270 million people around the world suffer from peripheral neuropathy (e.g., phantom limb syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome) and neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain has been described as numbing or burning, plus sensations of tingling, electric shock, crawling, itching, or shooting. Mild pain stimuli are perceived as very painful. Pain on one side of the body is also felt on the other side. The area of pain increases to include larger and larger areas of the body. This type of pain is difficult to treat and often requires a combination of pharmacological therapies, psychological counseling and the use of some form of alternative and complementary medicine.   Standard medical treatments: Antidepressants – SSRI’s including Prozac or Cymbalta, Tricyclic Antidepressantss – Elavil Anticonvulsants Neurontin or Lyrica Topical medications, such as capsaicin cream and Lidocaine patches Opioids – Oxydodone, Morphine, etc. Other medications, such as muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medicines and sleep medicines Physical therapy TENS unit treatment Treatment of underlying metabolic problem   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Fish oil – anti-inflammatory Capsaicin cream 0.01% – increases circulation Vitamin B complex, especially B6 – nerve nutrient Magnesium – muscle relaxant, often low in peripheral neuropathy Alpha lipoic acid – antioxidant used in diabetic neuropathy Glutathione – strong antioxidant Homeopathic – Hypericum – for nerve pain Herbal – Oat seed – nerve calming and tonic Ginko biloba – increases peripheral circulation St. Johnswort – increases serotonin and nerve tonic Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, Chinese herbal liniment Acupuncture Massage therapy Biofeedback   Neuropathic Pain and Cannabis 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 conditions like shingles or sciatica. The treatment of pain, particularly neuropathic pain, is one of the therapeutic applications of cannabis that is currently under investigation. Several research studies of the efficacy of cannabis in treating neuropathic pain have recently been published. Sativex, a cannabis based medicine has been approved in Great Britain for use in the treatment of neuropathic pain in Multiple Sclerosis. Cannabis is slowly becoming accepted as a useful option in the treatment of neuropathic pain. In addition to cannabis’s analgesic (pain reduction) properties it also can improve depression that often arises from chronic pain. It may improve appetite, help sleep and eliminate the nausea often caused by opiate...

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Neck Pain

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Neck Pain

Most neck pain occurs in the occipital, cervical or upper back area. Most cases of neck pain are self-limiting sprains or strains. Whiplash is a neck injury caused by impact from the rear such as a motor vehicle accident. This may result in fracture, subluxation, joint instability, disc herniation or facet impingement. Disc herniation may cause never numbness or weakness down the arm. Arthritis, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis also cause neck pain. Spinal Stenosis Spinal stenosis can also occur in the cervical region. As the spinal canal shrinks the nerves that go through it are squeezed. This may cause neck pain or arm pain, numbness and weakness. Arthritis, falls, accidents and wear and tear on the bones and joints in the spine play a part in stenosis. Spinal stenosis is found most often in those over 50 due to aging.   Degenerative Disc Disease, OA – See separate information page   Standard medical treatments: Rest NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory drugs) Muscle relaxants Pain medicine Posture modification Steroid injections Physical therapy Ice packs/heating pad Exercise Water exercise Spinal surgery   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Magnesium – muscle relaxant Bromelain – enzymatic anti-inflammatory Glucosamine sulfate – well researched anti-inflammatory Serrapeptase – enzymatic anti-inflammatory and dissolves scar tissue Homeopathic – Traumeel – combination remedy for inflammation and would healing Zeel – combination remedy for arthritic joint pain Symphytum – for bone and periosteum healing Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, Chinese herbal liniment Acupuncture Chiropractic Massage therapy Rolfing – deep tissue massage   Neck Pain and Cannabis Cannabis is helpful for muscle spasm of the neck muscles, pain and inflammation. It can be used internally and/or topically, applied directly to the affected area, to provide relief without psychoactive effects. A prominent California Orthopedic Surgeon supports the use of cannabis to treat pain in his patients. “I can state confidently, as a physician with an extensive practice and specialized expertise in pain management, that marijuana can prove (and has proven) medically useful to at least some chronic pain patients. Cannabis can serve at least two important roles in safe, effective pain management. It can provide relief from the pain itself (either alone or in combination with other analgesics), and it can control the nausea associated with taking opiod drugs, as well as the nausea, vomiting and dizziness that often accompany severe, prolonged...

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Multiple Sclerosis

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that involves the demyelination of nerves of the central nervous system. These nerves are covered in a protective sheath, called myelin; much like the plastic sheath around an electrical wire. In MS, the sheaths become inflamed and damaged, leaving the underlying nerve exposed and vulnerable to scarring (plaques).  The plaques create a “short circuit” in the nerve, which results in a dysfunctional transmission. It affects some 350,000 people in the U.S. and 2 million worldwide, and occurs most commonly in young adults.  Women have a 1 in 200 lifetime risk and are more affected than men. Patients feel a variety of symptoms, including weakness, stiffness, tremors, spasticity, numbness, dizziness, heat sensitivity, blurred vision, bowel and urinary dysfunction and fatigue. The cause of the demyelination in MS is still unknown. The dominant theoretical model involves an experimental autoimmune “allergic” encephalomyelitis (EAE). In this model T cells specific for myelin antigens induce inflammation. The immune system reacts in the attack on nerves by one’s own macrophage cells. Theories behind the inflammation include a combination of genetic predisposition, viral triggers, and toxic exposures.   The clinical course of MS involves periods of exacerbation and periods of remission. The goal of treatment is to promote remissions, reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms to optimize the quality of life.   Standard medical treatments: Corticosteroids Interferon Antispasmodic drugs – Baclofen, Clonazepam Physical therapy Exercise Water exercise   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – avoid food allergens, especially gluten Raw food cleansing diet Low fat diet Fish oil / flax oil – anti-inflammatory Lecithin – for nerve renewal Glutathione infusions – strong antioxidant Homeopathy Acupuncture Chiropractic Massage Remove heavy metals Electromagnetic therapy   Multiple Sclerosis and Cannabis A large study of 630 patients published  in 2003 found no objective evidence of a treatment effect on muscle spasticity.  However, significantly more participants taking either cannabis oil or THC reported subjective improvements in spasticity, spasms, sleep and pain, but not tremor or bladder symptoms.  The implication of these studies is that marijuana makes patients feel better, even if doesn’t show any objective improvement. A later British study gave some more promising information.  Walking times before and during treatment were obtained from 278 participants; The group taking THC had improved walking time. There was no improvement on any other another mobility test.  Also, investigators noted there were fewer relapses in the cannabis treatment groups. More recently studies using Sativex, a standardized cannabis medicine showed reduced spasticity in MS patients. MS patients can sometimes reduce their need for Baclofen with cannabis...

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Migraine Headache

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Migraine Headache

Migraines are recurrent headache episodes often lasting up to 24 hours or more, involving moderate to severe pain. The pain is often one-sided throbbing, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light, sound, and other sensory stimuli. The mechanism involves an initial vasoconstriction followed by a rebound vasodilation of head blood vessels, requiring different therapy at each stage. It occurs more often in women, with a peak incidence in middle age. 70% of migraine sufferers have a family history indicating a biochemical cause. It is often hormonally mediated, associated with oral contraceptive use and may or may not be alleviated by menopause. Triggers include alcohol, aged cheeses, red wine, chocolate, changes in altitude or weather, and hunger, sleeplessness or stress. Consideration of nicotine and/or caffeine use is important in that withdrawal from either can bring on a migraine. Emotional triggers including anxiety, stress, and anger may play a major role in precipitating a migraine as well.   Standard medical treatments: NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Ergotamine derivatives Triptan drugs Intranasal medicines Antidepressants Anti-nausea drugs Preventive adrenergic or calcium channel blockers Pain medicine   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – dietary restriction, eliminate allergens and triggers 5HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid derivative, pre-serotonin Ginger – anti-inflammatory Herbal – Feverfew – anti-inflammatory Homeopathy – belladonna Biofeedback Massage therapy Relaxation therapies Acupuncture Hormone balancing Hydrotherapy – warm footbath, cold compress Chiropractic   Migraine Headache and Cannabis   Often, when acute episodes of vomiting are present, oral medication cannot be used. In these instances patients usually receive treatment from an ER where IM or even IV injections are used. If vomiting is particularly severe dehydration is a consideration and IV fluids may be administered. Many of the medicines prescribed for the treatment and/or prevention of migraine can have serious adverse reactions and side effects. Non-drug preventative measures including recognizing and avoiding migraine “triggers” are important. Cannabis preparations in the 19th century were widely prescribed for migraine. In England and America, cannabis was the primary drug used to treat “sick headache.” Cannabis contains a variety of cannabinoids that act synergistically to help relieve migraine symptoms. Recent research demonstrates that cannabis is also a mild vasodilator that can lower blood pressure. It is important to use cannabis at the earliest signs of the start of a migraine, so that the vasodilation effect can put a halt to the progression into a full blown headache. Tinctures are available that are absorbed under the tongue (sublingual) and work in minutes. Inhalation through a vaporizer or smoking can produce even more rapid relief. Cannabis is both anti-inflammatory and analgesic in addition to its known anti-emetic properties. Cannabis can provide relief from muscle cramps that can accompany migraine (particularly of the neck and shoulders)....

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Low Back Pain

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Low Back Pain

Low back pain can be caused by several things – a sprain, a strain, a muscle spasm, joint problems, spinal stenosis, arthritis, or disc problems. Problems may develop from injury or as a result of aging. LBP is often episodic, not constant. The pain may change with a change in position or movement. 80% of Americans have low back pain at some time in their life,   Spinal Stenosis Lumbar spinal canal stenosis is a narrowing of the space in the lower spine that carries the nerves to the legs. As the spinal canal shrinks the nerves that go through it are squeezed. This may cause back pain or leg pain, numbness and weakness. People with lumbar stenosis have back pain most of the time. The pain is increased by standing or walking.  Arthritis, falls, accidents and wear and tear on the bones and joints in the spine play a part in stenosis. Spinal stenosis is found most often in those over 50 due to aging.   Degenerative Disc Disease, OA – See separate information page   Standard medical treatments: Rest NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory drugs) Muscle relaxants Pain medicine Posture modification Weight loss Steroid injections Physical therapy Ice packs/heating pad Exercise Water exercise Spinal surgery   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Magnesium – muscle relaxant Bromelain – enzymatic anti-inflammatory Glucosamine sulfate – well researched anti-inflammatory Serrapeptase – enzymatic anti-inflammatory and dissolves scar tissue Homeopathic – Traumeel – combination remedy for inflammation and would healing Zeel – combination remedy for arthritic joint pain Symphytum – for bone and periosteum healing Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, Chinese herbal liniment Acupuncture Chiropractic Massage therapy Rolfing – deep tissue massage   Low Back Pain and Cannabis Cannabis is helpful for muscle spasm of the back muscles, pain and inflammation. It can be used internally and/or topically, applied directly to the affected area, to provide relief without psychoactive effects. A prominent California Orthopedic Surgeon supports the use of cannabis to treat pain in his patients. “I can state confidently, as a physician with an extensive practice and specialized expertise in pain management, that marijuana can prove (and has proven) medically useful to at least some chronic pain patients. Cannabis can serve at least two important roles in safe, effective pain management. It can provide relief from the pain itself (either alone or in combination with other analgesics), and it can control the nausea associated with taking opiod drugs, as well as the nausea, vomiting and dizziness that often accompany severe, prolonged...

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Joint Pain

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Joint Pain

Traumatic injuries to joints may involve a sprain or tear of the ligaments or tendons or a muscle strain. Inflammatory problems include bursitis, synovitis , arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.   Shoulder Pain Shoulder injury occurs when the shoulder muscles are weak or overused. Overuse or overhead repetitive motion can cause injury. The most common pain in the shoulder is soreness of the tendons in the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is the part of the shoulder that helps the arm do circular motion. Partial thickness tears of the rotator cuff results in tendonitis. Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) can be a later stage result of overuse injury. This involves pain and stiffness with movement.  The painful achy stiff stage may last up to 8 months; the adhesive stage of lack of movement may last 4-6 months; the recovery stage takes several more months, but pain may persist. Shoulder joints can also be loose, causing dislocation, or have arthritis.   Hip Pain Most cases of hip pain are a result of trauma or inflammation. Bursitis often occurs as part of an overuse syndrome such as climbing, or from a fall or a direct blow to the hip. Arthritis of the hip is common in the elderly. The end result of this degenerative disease is joint enlargement induced by growth of cartilage, bone, ligament tendon, capsules and chronic joint inflammation. Range of motion is limited and painful, there are flexion contractures, and loss of mobility. Hip fracture may occur after a fall or a motor vehicle accident.  Stress fractures in the elderly are a result of osteoporosis.   Knee Pain Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain. Tendonitis around the joint is most commonly of the patellar tendon, the large tendon over the front of the knee. Chondromalacia causes knee pain under the kneecap and is due to softening of the cartilage. It is most common in younger patients.  Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition seen in adolescents and is due to irritation of the growth plate just at the front of the joint.   Standard medical treatments: Physical therapy Ice NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) Exercises Steroid injections Surgery   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Magnesium – muscle relaxant Bromelain – enzymatic anti-inflammatory Glucosamine sulfate – well researched anti-inflammatory 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 Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, Chinese herbal liniment Acupuncture Chiropractic Massage therapy Rolfing – deep tissue massage    Joint Pain and Cannabis The use of cannabis as a treatment for musculo-skeletal and joint pain both internally and topically has been handed down as a folk-remedy and used by clinicians for centuries. Evidence now exists to support the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of both cannabis and its main cannabinoids, CBD and THC.  The ability of cannabis to combat chronic pain makes it useful for that aspect, both on its own and as an adjunct therapy that enhances...

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Insomnia

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Insomnia

Primary Insomnia is sleeplessness that is not derived from chemical or environmental causes. Patients may experience difficulty in either getting to sleep or staying asleep. Often the mind is overactive and doesn’t allow rest. Insomnia affects 20-30% of adults. It can occur during times of stress and may be associated with altered neurochemicals such as the “sleep” neurotransmitters (serotonin or GABA), or with increased stress hormone (cortisol). Other forms of sleeplessness may occur as a result of a substance abuse or a withdrawal problem, including withdrawal from marijuana. Disturbance of the biological clock, such as a shift in time zones or different job shifts can also result in insomnia. Poor sleep habits often contribute to the problem. Other medical conditions that cause Insomnia include sleep apnea, restless legs, night sweats and pain.   Standard medical treatments: Sleep medicines – Benzodiazepenes Hypnotics Ambien, Lunesta Antihistamines – Benadryl Antidepressants – Trazodone, Elavil Exercise Change sleep habits – keep bedroom dark and quiet Light snack before bed Address causes of stress or worry   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – avoid stimulants, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol before bed Melatonin L-Tryptophan – an amino acid, pre-serotonin Warm milk Herbal – Valerian root – sedative Kava-kava – sedative and relaxant California poppy – sedative and relaxant Passion flower – relaxant Homeopathy Cortisol reduction Biofeedback Relaxation therapy Meditation Acupuncture Hypnosis Sleep induction guided tapes/CDs   Insomnia and Cannabis Most patients who have found success with cannabis for insomnia report improved sleep with less drowsiness the next day as compared with over the counter or prescription medication. Patients who use cannabis for insomnia often can reduce or eliminate their previous sleeping medicines, with fewer side effects. Many pharmaceuticals that are used to help insomnia may also cause insomnia as they are withdrawn, or skipped. Cannabis does not create the same sort of dependence, you can use it as needed. It’s important to use marijuana in a long-acting form, such as capsules or tincture if you find you’re waking up in the middle of the night. Avoid brownies, though because chocolate is stimulating. Indica strains are best used as...

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Irritable Bowel Disease / Colitis

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Irritable Bowel Disease / Colitis

IBD encompasses several different types of chronic inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Most IBD onsets between ages 15-35 and often has a familial incidence. Infectious agents and dietary factors may be involved.                   IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome affects the small and large intestine. Symptoms include cramping or intestinal pains that are relieved with a bowel movement. Constipation or diarrhea can occur. Other symptoms include bloating and mucous in the stools. It is increased by stress and may be associated with food allergies and intestinal inflammation.                   Crohn’s Disease – This is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the bowel wall associated with bloating, loss of appetite, diarrhea and malaise. It has a higher incidence in Jewish people and is familial.                   Ulcerative Colitis – This is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the lining of the colon and rectum. Often bloody diarrhea accompanies this disease.                   Diverticulitis – Diverticulosis describes the occurrence of pouches in the wall of the large intestine. This is a natural consequence of aging. Diverticulitis occurs when a diverticula becomes inflamed and painful, often containing bacterial overgrowth.   Standard medical treatments: Avoidance of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, fatty foods, sorbitol Laxatives or anti-diarrheal medicine Fiber, questran 5-amino salicylic acid compounds Antispasmondics – Bentyl Steroid therapy Pain medicine Surgery   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – eliminate food allergens, sugar, wheat Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, flax oil – anti-inflammatory Probiotics – restore microbial balance of healthy bacteria Herbal – Hops – calms the digestive system Chamomille – calmative Slippery elm – coats the GI lining Marshmallow root – protects the GI lining Herbal antibiotics – goldenseal, berberine, oregano oil Homeopathy Stress management Ayurvedic therapies Acupuncture Meditation   Irritable Bowel Disease and Cannabis Cannabis has two physiological effects that make it a good choice of medicine for IBD, as an anti-inflammatory and an immune modulator. Examining gut samples from healthy people and IBD patients, researchers at the University of Bath Hospital in England recently (2011) found that the presence of CB2 cannabinoid receptors increases in IBD patients as their disease progresses. The researchers believe that the presence of CB2 receptor only during the disease-state may be linked to its known role in suppression of the immune system, a property that is of benefit in autoimmune disorders, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. They also found that the CB1 receptor helps to promote wound healing in the lining of the gut. In addition, the CB1 receptor has specifically been found to inhibit motility of the intestine, so that cannabis can act to slow down diarrhea and reduce intestinal spasms. “This gives us the first evidence that very selective cannabis-derived treatments may be useful as future therapeutic strategies in the treatment of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis,” said Dr. Karen Wright from the University’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Patients using medical cannabis for the relief of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease report that it relieves painful cramps and increases their appetite.  This last effect is very important; Crohn’s patients are often undernourished. Ingestion of cannabis is a good way to take it in for intestinal disorders, as the medicine is delivered directly to the digestive tract. For example, encapsulated cannabis is released directly into the small intestine after the capsule is digested, providing long-lasting...

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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)/AIDS

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)/AIDS

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. HIV infection occurs after exposure to the virus through either blood-to-blood or sexual contact. Millions of people worldwide now carry this virus. It usually takes 2 to 5 years or more for symptoms to appear. Typically the actual HIV infection causes non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, anorexia, and nausea. As the disease progresses and the body’s immune system becomes more impaired, secondary infections may occur. Secondary conditions associated with HIV include AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), ARC (AIDS Related Complex), and many opportunistic infections (such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and intestinal parasites). The goal of treatment is to slow the progression of the disease, and minimize the impact of secondary conditions. HIV infection is managed with several strong antiviral drugs which, in themselves, have many undesirable side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite and malnutrition.   Standard medical treatments: Anti-viral medicines Treatment of secondary conditions Limitation of spread of the virus Exercise Psychological counseling   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional support – Nnutritional testing for vitamins and minerals and replacement Oregano oil – antibacterial and antifungal Garlic– prevents cell to cell transmission of HIV through blood Curcumin – helps to deactivate HIV Vitamin C – immune support Probiotics – restore intestinal bacteria Blue green algae – superfood, helps correct nutritional deficiencies Herbal – Echinacea – helps the immune system deal with infections Astralagus – stimulates T-helper ells Licorice – increases T cell counts Rooibos – prevents HIV from binding to T cells Pau d’Arco – antifungal and immune support Acupuncture   HIV and Cannabis Research published in 2004 found that nearly one-quarter of AIDS patients were using cannabis. A majority reported relief of anxiety and/or depression and improved appetite, while nearly a third said it also increased pleasure and provided relief of pain. The effectiveness of cannabis for treating symptoms related to HIV/AIDS is widely recognized. Its value as an anti-emetic and analgesic has been proven in numerous studies and has been recognized by several comprehensive, government- sponsored reviews.  A review by the Institute of Medicine concluded, “For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.” Over 30% of patients with HIV/AIDS suffer from excruciating pain in the nerve endings (polyneuropathies), many in response to the antiretroviral therapies that constitute the first line of treatment for HIV/AIDS. But, there is no approved treatment for such pain that is satisfactory for a majority of patients. As a result, some patients must reduce or discontinue their HIV/AIDS therapy because they can neither tolerate nor eliminate the debilitating side effects of the antiretroviral first-line medications. In a 2007 study done at UCSF, cannabis was found to be effective to treat HIV neuropathy, and is being offered as an option increasingly....

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Hepatitis

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Hepatitis

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It most commonly occurs due to a viral infection, although it can be due to non-viral causes, the most common of these is due to the effects of alcohol. Viral hepatitis is transmitted through blood-to-blood or sexual contact. These include Hepatitis B, C and others. Hepatitis A is a viral infection that can be transmitted orally through contaminated food, and is usually self-limiting. The liver is an organ that is active in metabolism of alcohol and drugs. Long, repeated use of these substances can cause liver trauma and lead to hepatitis. As the liver becomes less functional, the nutrients that it helps to metabolize become less available and low blood sugar and fatigue result. Hepatitis causes non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, anorexia and nausea. Liver/abdominal pain may also occur. As the disease progresses the liver fails to do its job of detoxifying the body’s metabolic products and symptoms of toxicity, such as brain encephalopathy may occur.   Standard medical treatments: Interferon – promotes anti-viral response Avoidance of liver metabolizing substances such as alcohol Treatment of secondary medical conditions such as encephalopathy   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – limit protein and fat Raw food detoxification with morning “liver flush” Vitamin C – immune booster and helps prevent spread of virus Zinc – deficiency occurs in hepatitis Liver cellular extract Glutathione infusions – strong antioxidant Herbal – Milk Thistle – supports liver tissue and relieves nausea Greater Celandine – liver support Licorice – minimizes spread of hepatitis B Minor Bupleurum – slows Hepatitis C and relieves nausea Acupuncture Massage Castor oil packs                 Hepatitis and Cannabis Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco medical school and the Organization to Achieve Solutions in Substance-Abuse (OASIS) conclude that: “Modest cannabis use may offer symptomatic and virological benefit to some patients undergoing HCV treatment by helping them maintain adherence to the challenging medication regimen.” Hepatits C patients who used cannabis in combination with their conventional medical treatment were three times more likely to have an undetectable viral level six months after the end of treatment. Some patients use cannabis to counter the effects of stringent anti-viral treatments, such as nausea or lack of appetite. The endocannabinoid system may moderate aspects of chronic liver disease and cannabinoids may reduce inflammation in experimental models of Hepatitis. Cannabinoids have been found experimentally to be helpful especially in the case of auto-immune Hepatitis. Other clinical reviews have reported a positive association between daily cannabis use and the progression of liver fibrosis (excessive tissue build up) and steatosis (excessive fat build up) in select hepatitis C patients. Therefore, patients who use cannabis as a replacement for other drugs (which in themselves would put stress on the functioning of the liver) should be monitored for these effects (fibrosis or steatosis), and be moderate in their use of...

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Glaucoma

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition characterized by increased pressure within the eye. This increased pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerve endings that carry impulses to the optic nerve, and thus impair vision. In chronic, or open-angle glaucoma, the condition results in slowly increasing pressure over time, loss of peripheral vision, and problems seeing in the dark. In acute, or closed-angle glaucoma, the pupil may become dilated and fixed and immediate medical attention is required. The incidence of glaucoma increases with age and has a genetic predisposition.   Standard medical treatments: Eye drops – Pilocarpine, beta-blockers Diamox Laser surgery Exercise   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Berries, red wine – flavinoids are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant Avoid caffeine, tea, stimulants, nicotine – they increase eye pressure Avoid steroids Bioflavinoids and Vitamin C Magnesium – relaxes the blood vessels in the eye Herbal – Bilberry leaf – preserves blood vessel integrity Ginkgo biloba – helps circulation to the eye Hawthorn – strengthens capillaries Acupuncture Eye exercises Relaxation therapies   Glaucoma and Cannabis                 In 1971, during a systematic investigation of its effects in healthy cannabis users, it was observed that cannabis reduces intraocular pressure. It was found that some derivatives of marijuana lowered the intraocular pressure when taken intravenously, by smoking or orally, but not by topical application to the eye. One problem with taking marijuana to treat glaucoma was that it required constant inhalation, as often as every three hours and the ensuing side effects significantly outweighed the benefits. Cannabis decreases intraocular pressure by an average 25-30%, occasionally up to 50%. Some non-psychotropic cannabinoids, and to a lesser extent, some non-cannabinoid constituents of the hemp plant also decrease intraocular pressure. The mechanism of action to lower IOP is not known. Based on reviews by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the Institute of Medicine and on available scientific evidence, the Task Force on Complementary Therapies believes that “no scientific evidence has been found that demonstrates increased benefits and/or diminished risks of marijuana use to treat glaucoma compared with the wide variety of pharmaceutical agents now available.” The most significant use of cannabis for glaucoma has been in combination with eye drops, as the effects seem to be additive, in that they operate most likely by different mechanisms. A non-psychoactive extract of cannabis was tested in combination with Timolol eye-drops in patients with high IOP in 1980. They found that the effects of the two medications were complementary and were even effective in some cases where other medications had failed. More testing needs to be done to determine how and when cannabinoids are indicated in the treatment of...

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Heartburn/GERD/Ulcer

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Heartburn/GERD/Ulcer

Heartburn/GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a chronic relapsing problem that happens when the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus stays open more than is normal. When stomach acid refluxes into the esophagus it can irritate the lining and cause burning called heartburn. As many as 10% of adults have episodes once a day and 44% at least once a month. Other symptoms include hoarseness or nocturnal cough.   An ulcer is an erosion in the lining of the upper gastrointestinal system, the stomach or the duodenum. Increased stomach acid is associated with the formation of ulcers. With an ulcer you feel epigastric or stomach pain that is burning and occurs 1-3 hours after eating.   Standard medical treatments: Decrease caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, greasy food, peppermint, chocolate Avoid nicotine Antacids (Maalox, TUMS) Treat H. pylori with antibiotics Acid blockers – H2-receptor antagonists (Zantac, Tagamet) Proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid) Elevate head of bed Eat lightly at night Surgery to correct hiatal hernia   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – Aloe vera juice – coats upper GI lining DGL – Deglycyrrhizinated licorice – protects stomach lining Herbal – Comfrey root – promotes wound healing Marshmallow root – lowers stomach acid and protects stomach lining Calamus root – treats heartburn Stress management Relaxation therapy Massage therapy Postural realignment bodywork GERD/Ulcer and Cannabis As far back as 1978 it was shown that acute and long-term cannabis treatment reduced the rate of gastric ulceration in rats subjected to restraint-induced stress. A review of the gastrointestinal effects of cannabinoids in 2001 states “The digestive tract contains endogenous cannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol) and cannabinoid CB1 receptors can be found on myenteric and submucosal nerves. Activation of CB1 receptors inhibits gastrointestinal motility, intestinal secretion and gastric acid secretion” and conclude “The enteric location of CB1 receptors could provide new strategies for the management of gut disorders.  In addition to affecting stomach acid, the muscle relaxant properties of cannabis make it useful for GERD, in that the stomach sphincters become more relaxed, thereby reducing reflux. A tincture is a good method of delivery to treat upper digestive disorders as it is absorbed directly into submucosal tissues upon...

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Fibromyalgia

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia syndrome has no cure, is difficult to diagnose, and effective pain management strategies are a must to help patients cope with the disease. An estimated 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia. The condition is far more prevalent in women and the incidence increases with age, 85% occurs in women in ages 20-50. Fibromyalgia is a soft-tissue musculoskeletal condition with characteristic pain and stiffness in at least 11 out of 18 specific tender sites. The pain, body aches, fatigue, and tender points are found over muscles and tendinous insertions in the in the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and knees. The pain is usually bilateral (unilateral pain, especially surrounding a trigger point is called myofascial pain syndrome). It is difficult to diagnose and treat. It often includes fatigue, depression, sleep disturbance, and hormone imbalance. Other symptoms include spastic colon, bladder irritation, migraine, dizziness and heart palpitations. Standard medical treatments: Muscle relaxants SSRI’s (serotonin regulating antidepressants) Elavil (a nerve calming antidepressant) Mild exercise Warm water exercise Physical therapy   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – 5-HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid derivative, pre-serotonin Magnesium with malic acid – muscle relaxant and nutrient DHEA – steroid pro-hormone, supports adrenal function Pregnenolone – steroid pro-hormone, supports adrenal function Guaifenesin – experimental therapy to decrease cellular swelling Homeopathic injections into trigger points Massage therapy including gentle myofascial release Posture and alignment training Yoga Relaxation therapy Acupuncture Detoxification protocols Epsom salt baths   Fibromyalgia and Cannabis Cannabis has been shown to be helpful for fibromyalgia in 2 scientific studies. The first randomized, controlled-access trial to evaluate nabilone for pain reduction and quality-of-life improvement in fibromyalgia patients was published in the Journal of Pain in 2006. Nabilone is a cannabinoid drug, available in Canada. The results showed that the nabilone group had significant reductions in pain and anxiety.  In the July 2006 issue of the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, investigators at Germany’s University of Heidelberg evaluated the analgesic effects of oral THC in fibromyalgia patients. Among those participants who completed the trial, all reported a significant reduction in daily recorded pain and electronically induced pain. As fibromyalgia is a syndrome consisting not only of pain and muscle tension,  but also may include insomnia and depression, cannabis is proving to be an efficient single medicine, providing relief otherwise requiring up to 4 pharmaceutical medications. It can be used internally and topically, applied directly to areas of...

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Dermatitis / Psoriasis / Pruritis

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Dermatitis / Psoriasis / Pruritis

Pruritis refers to itching felt in any body part, sometimes to the extent of feeling painful. Most commonly we think of itching as related to conditions of the skin. There are several conditions that involve skin itching, or pruritis. A viral or bacterial rash can result in skin itching which clears as the infection clears. Chronic skin conditions that result in pruritis and inflammation include eczema and psoriasis.                   Eczema – is an itching, scaling, swelling rash on the skin, also referred to as dermatitis. It can be caused by an allergic reaction to something touched, called “contact dermatitis”, or can be caused by internal allergies to environmental triggers or foods. In eczema the affected skin becomes inflamed, dry and thickened. There may be encrusted scaling lesions or patches of redness. It is a common problem, affecting 3-7% of the population. Eczema has a genetic predisposition and is associated with other allergic problems.                   Psoriasis – is a skin disorder caused by overgrowth of skin cells resulting in thick scaly red plaques. Typically scales appear bilaterally on elbows, knees, ears and also on the scalp. It affects about 2% of the population. It does not involve an allergic process, but rather a cellular dysregulation. Theories of abnormal T- lymphocyte immune mechanisms have been proposed. Psoriasis does not generally itch, but patients may pick at the scabs and cause pruritis as a secondary problem. About 10% of the time psoriatic arthritis accompanies this disorder resulting in joint pain.   Standard medical treatments: Corticosteroids topically DMARDS) – Methotrexate, Cyclosporine Treat underlying allergic problem Avoid skin irritants   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – avoidance of allergic foods and toxins Fish oil / flax oil – anti-inflammatory Raw food detoxifying diet for the digestive system and the liver Vitamin A – reduces thickening of the skin Quercitin – anti-histamine bioflavonoid Vitamin C – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory Herbal – Burdock root – helps to detoxify Calendula salve – heals irritated skin Aloe vera gel – soothes ulcerated skin Coleus forskolii – anti-histamine Pine bark or tar ointments Homeopathy Acupuncture Relaxation therapies   Skin Disorders/Itching and Cannabis British researchers reported in the 2003 that the peripheral administration of a synthetic cannabinoid agonist significantly reduced experimentally-induced itch in 12 subjects. In 2006, German researchers reported that 22 patients with prurigo, lichen simplex and pruritus who applied an emollient cream with a cannabinoid agonist the average reduction in itch was 86.4%. “Topical cannabinoid agonists represent a new effective and well-tolerated therapy for refractory itching of various origins. Creams with a higher concentration may be even more effective with broader indications.” In a 2007 articles entitled “New frontier for medical cannabis — topical pot”, topical THC was reported to act as an anti-inflammatory and help mice heal faster from skin allergies. The use of topical cannabis for skin disorders ranging from itching, to scaling, swelling and redness has been gaining popularity among medical marijuana patients, and often can substitute for  steroid creams or other medications....

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Depression

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on Depression

Depression refers to a condition of sadness or despair lasting weeks to months. There are many kinds of depression, including normal transient states of low mood derived from life events, or in response to many life stressors. It can be triggered by changes in sleep, light, food, medications, substances or changes in health. These all result in a change in brain chemistry. About 50% of people with depression have a co-existing medical problem that also needs to be treated. Depression is often accompanied by changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, fatigue, poor concentration, social withdrawal or irritability.   Standard medical treatments: Antidepressants – SSRIs (serotonin regulating antidepressants) Bimodal agents – (i.e. Serzone) that act on both the neurotransmitters serotonin and     dopamine Dopamine agonists – Wellbutrin Tricyclic antidepressants MAO inhibitors Psychotherapy Treatment of any underlying medical condition Exercise   Supportive and alternative treatments: Nutritional – avoid sugar and alcohol 5-HTP – 5-hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid derivative, pre-serotonin L-Trytophan – an amino acid, pre-serotonin L-Tyrosine, phenylalanine – amino acids, pre-dopamine SAMe – S-adenosyl methionine, an amino acid derivative Blue green algae DHEA – steroid pro-hormone, supports adrenal function Herbal – St. Johnswort – increases serotonin Ginseng – adrenal tonic Homeopathy Light therapy Movement therapy – dance, yoga Hormone balancing Acupuncture Meditation Flower essences   Depression and Cannabis Some recent studies have linked depression to chronic use of cannabis (several times/day for several years). This idea remains controversial. A 2005 Australian study reviewed thousands of such cannabis users and found normal rates of depression once other factors such as alcohol use, gender, illness, etc. were accounted for.  A study in the Journal of Neuroscience published in 2007 showed that cannabinoids elicit antidepressant effects and  activate serotonergic neurons  at low dose levels. There is currently a debate as to which “strain” of cannabis is most appropriate for the adjunctive treatment of depression. Strain selection is important, because strains that are too sedating may contribute to the lethargy of depression, and could accentuate dysfunctional symptoms. Since symptoms are so individualistic it is hard to determine what strain is right empirically. In general Sativa dominant strains are more uplifting. Cannabis use has also been used as a method of harm reduction, to substitute for a more detrimental substance use. Rates of depression in substance abusers are three times higher than the normal population. While many substance abusers are self-medicating a depression, studies show that chronic substance abuse itself leads to brain changes and...

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Degenerative Disc Disease

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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.”...

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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...

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Cancer

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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,...

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Attention Deficit Disorder

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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....

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Asthma

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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....

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Anxiety

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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...

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Anorexia

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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...

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Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Medical Conditions | Comments Off on 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...

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