A new discovery by researchers shows that medical cannabis may reduce blood pressure in older adults.
The study, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, is the first of its kind to focus on the effect of cannabis on blood pressure, heart rate and metabolic parameters in adults 60 and above with hypertension.
It was carried out by a team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center.
“Older adults are the fastest growing group of medical cannabis users, yet evidence on cardiovascular safety for this population is scarce,” says Dr. Ran Abuhasira of the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences, one of Israel’s leading medical faculties.
“This study is part of our ongoing effort to provide clinical research on the actual physiological effects of cannabis over time.”
Patients were evaluated using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, ECG, blood tests, and body measurements — both before and three months after initiating cannabis therapy.
In the study, researchers found a significant reduction in 24-hour systolic and diastolic blood pressure values, with the lowest point occurring three hours after ingesting cannabis either orally via oil extracts or by smoking.
Patients showed reductions in blood pressure in both daytime and nighttime, with more significant changes at night.
The BGU researchers believe that the relief from pain – the indication for prescription cannabis in most patients – may also have contributed to a reduction in blood pressure.
“Cannabis research is in its early stages and BGU is at the forefront of evaluating clinical use based on scientific studies,” says Doug Seserman, chief executive officer of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
“This new study is one of several that has been published recently by BGU on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.”
Integro Medical Clinics: Living with and managing MS
In the latest of their ‘Medical Case Book’ series, the team at Integro Medical Clinics explore living with and managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis with cannabis medicines.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition, which has several different forms and levels of severity.
It occurs when the body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks a healthy part of the body, in the case of MS, the brain or spinal cord of the nervous system.
The attacked layer that surrounds and protects the nerves is called the myelin sheath. This damage to the sheath and underlying nerves, means that messages travelling along the nerves become slowed or disrupted.
Exactly what causes the immune system to act in this way is unclear, but most experts think a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved.
MS can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, speech, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. It’s a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild. In many cases, it’s possible to treat symptoms.
It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, although it can develop at any age. It’s about two to three times more common in women than men and is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults.
The symptoms of MS vary widely from person to person and can affect any part of the body.
The main ones include fatigue, back and neck pain, difficulty walking, vision problems, problems controlling the bladder, numbness or tingling in different parts of the body, muscle stiffness and spasm, issues with balance and coordination and problems with thinking, learning and planning.
Depending on the type of MS you have, your symptoms may come and go in phases or get steadily worse over time. MS starts in one of two general ways: with individual relapses (attacks or exacerbations) or with gradual progression.
Relapsing remitting MS
More than eight out of every 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting type.
Someone with relapsing remitting MS will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, known as relapses.
These typically worsen over a few days and these relapses can last from as little as a week to many months, then slowly improve over a similar time period.
Relapses often occur without warning but are sometimes associated with a period of illness or stress. The symptoms of a relapse may disappear altogether, with or without treatment, although some symptoms often persist, with repeated attacks happening over several years.
Periods between attacks are known as periods of remission – these can last for years at a time.
After many years (usually decades), many, but not all, people with relapsing remitting MS go on to develop secondary progressive MS.
In this type of MS, symptoms gradually worsen over time without obvious attacks. Some people continue to have infrequent relapses during this stage.
Around half of people with relapsing remitting MS will develop secondary progressive MS within 15 to 20 years, and the risk of this happening increases the longer you have the condition.
Primary progressive MS
Just over one in 10 people with the condition start their MS with a gradual worsening of symptoms.
In primary progressive MS, symptoms gradually worsen and accumulate over several years, and there are no periods of remission, though people often have periods where their condition appears to stabilise.
There’s currently no cure for MS, but a number of traditional treatments can help control the condition including steroids, specific treatments for individual MS symptoms and disease-modifying therapies and medicines.
Cannabis medicines & MS symptom control
Many patients have found that using Cannabis medicines to control their MS symptoms can be incredibly helpful.
Dr Anthony Ordman, senior clinical adviser and hon. clinical director at Integro Medical Cannabis Clinics said: “Over the years I have treated many MS patients in my clinics. Whilst they generally receive excellent care for their MS, the secondary conditions such as chronic back pain can be neglected.
“Traditional pharmaceutical pain medicines often have unpleasant side effects such as brain fog and constipation and frequently stop working after a few weeks. Cannabis medicines can prove extremely helpful in the pain management of MS patients pain because they reduce muscle spasm and inflammation.”
The wholistic approach
In the overall management and improvement in quality of life for a patient, many elements need to be assessed and different approaches tried to see if they work for the individual.
Emotional support and being monitored and listened to by a trusted healthcare professional are absolutely vital. At Integro Medical Clinics specialist cannabis practise nurse, Sophie Hayes, is very experienced in dealing with MS patients and on call to support and deal with any questions they may have.
“Managing the symptoms of MS often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Every individual’s presentation is different and benefits from a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods,” said Sophie.
“These can include physiotherapy exercises, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), cooling and/or heat therapy, supportive braces, alternative therapies and CBT.
“In addition to this, cannabis medicines can be a useful prescription to help manage the pain and relax the muscles. This can enable individuals living with MS to engage with these methods and regain a greater sense of control over their symptom management.
There are several organisations in the UK that MS patients can turn to including the National Back Pain Association – BackCare, the MS Society and the MS Trust (see contact details below).
Denice Logan Rose, executive director, BackCare, commented: “BackCare can offer practical and emotional support to MS patients living with back pain through education, information, advice and a small network of UK based branches.
“Even though it can be one of many side effects of MS it should not be underestimated the distress back pain can cause. Turning to an organisation like BackCare for support can help alleviate the stress, anxiety and discomfort that arises from the added complication of back pain.”
She continued: “Back and neck pain can affect MS patients for a number of different reasons. For example, spasticity, sitting in one position for too long, incorrect use of mobility aids, struggling with mobility, or possibly the same type of wear and tear that many people without MS experience.
“These pains can often get neglected within the overall larger framework of an MS diagnosis.
“At BackCare we are constantly investigating new approaches to back pain management to try to help people living with MS to have an improved quality of life and less discomfort.”
The patient’s story
Sarah Martin is a seasoned cannabis advocate and activist for Project 21. She is 51-years-old and first began to manifest symptoms of MS in 2002.
However, it was misdiagnosed for a couple of years as Dion Beret syndrome.
“As time passed the symptoms spread from numb feet and mood swings with depression, to an absolute physical inability to get out of bed or make a cup of tea. Even swallowing and speech became a challenge,” Sarah said.
She was then correctly diagnosed with relapsing and remitting MS but refused to be treated in hospital and struggled on at home.
Sarah was at her lowest ebb, when a friend suggested to her that she try cannabis, as she had heard it could have a positive effect on MS symptoms.
“At once my leg spasms reduced and the constant ache, I felt in my body decreased,” she added.
“I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep and relax, leading to a huge elevation in my mood.”
Sarah has become a dedicated cannabis proponent and continues to use medical cannabis to improve the quality of her life and control her MS symptoms.
Dr Anthony Ordman added: “Integro Clinics Ltd always recommend remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis-based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.”
If you would like further information, or to make an appointment for a medical consultation, please contact us at Integro Clinics:
To contact BackCare: +44 (0) 208 977 5474
https://www.mssociety.org.uk/care-and-support/local-support – @mssocietyuk
https://www.ms-uk.org/ – @MSUK6
https://mstrust.org.uk/about-ms – @MSTrust
https://shift.ms/ – @shiftms
Can CBD help you lower your alcohol intake?
Thanks to long days working from home and home schooling stresses, many of us have upped our alcohol intake during the Covid-19 pandemic – can CBD help us put down the bottle?
The Covid 19 pandemic has caused a lot of people to change their habits, and not always for the better.
Research has shown that more than a fifth of people admitted drinking more alcohol than usual during lockdown, rising to two fifths of parents and those on furlough.
And while a glass of wine at the end of the day is seen by many as a small treat, it’s not a harmless hobby; even moderate alcohol consumption – around seven to 14 drinks per week – is thought to be associated with a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.
Those looking for a way to relax at the end of the day might want to consider the ever-increasing range of CBD drinks, which offer the same calming effects without any of the side effects.
In fact, they’d be in good company; earlier this year, CBD drinks brand TRIP made the headlines when it was revealed that its products were flying off the shelves at the Queen’s farm shop.
The Windsor Farm Shop sells goods from the Royal Estates, but, according to reports, it also recently enjoyed huge demand for TRIP before selling out completely.
Each can, which is infused with 15mg of CBD, has also been popular at the Queen’s Tennis Club in Kensington, alongside stockists such as Selfridges, Liberty, Fenwick, Planet Organic, Harvey Nichols and Daylesford Farm.
Co-founder Olivia Ferdi, a Cambridge-educated lawyer who left her career to launch TRIP, said: “We’re thrilled so many customers are finding much needed calm with TRIP, especially in these particularly tricky times.
“Lockdown has been very tough and it’s so important to unwind in stressful moments.”
Meanwhile Craig Hutchison, founder of Ceder’s non-alcoholic gin and CBD Botanical Spirit, Maria and Craig’s, says booze-free options are becoming more popular with both those who are teetotal and those who want to cut down on alcohol.
“We’re seeing popularity increasing across all demographics and age groups,” he said.
“A lot of people are resorting to alcohol and self-medicating [during the pandemic] and it’s up to each individual to decide when they should or shouldn’t drink alcohol, but I would say that when you’re stressed and anxious, it’s not always the way to go.”
While there have been calls to regulate CBD in the same way as alcohol, the two are not comparable, not least when it comes to the harms associated with them.
Alcohol misuse is connected with domestic violence, sexual assault, liver toxicity, cancers and neurodegeneration, among a range of other ill-effects. CBD, on the other hand, has actually been shown to have health benefits, including stress and pain relief.
It appears that more people are turning away from alcohol and to CBD for that stress-busting effect; a poll released at the end of 2020 found that more than a third (33 per cent) of Britons have tried CBD products, while 42 percent have increased their usage since the outbreak of Covid-19.
More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they had found CBD products to be effective, with anxiety the most common reason for using them – making the fizz of a can of CBD just as alluring as a G&T.
Cannabis “significantly reduced” fibromyalgia pain – study
Cannabis was found to improve symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, when used alongside prescription medication.
Medical cannabis has been linked to a reduction in pain and other symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, according to new data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.
An Italian researcher explored the long-term use of various types of cannabis preparations in 38 patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia.
Participants in the study consumed cannabis for up to twelve months in combination with their prescribed medications.
The author reported that “significant improvements were observed” following the initiation of cannabis therapy in most patients.
Medical cannabis therapy was found to “significantly reduce pain intensity”, with approximately half of the patients reporting a reduction in pain.
Most patients reporting response to therapy said their pain intensity had decreased by at least 50 percent.
Participants also reported a decline in their disability index and overall symptom severity.
The most common side effect experienced by participants was mental confusion, however no patients experienced serious adverse effects, with most who were responsive to medical cannabis reporting “no or mild side effects.”
Subjects also did not appear to develop long-term tolerance to the substance, as they had no need to increase their dosages of medical cannabis over the duration of the study.
The author concluded: “The current study revealed the positive effects of MC [medical cannabis] therapy in some patients with FMS [ fibromyalgia syndrome] and resistance to conventional treatment.
“Thus, cannabinoids may be considered for FMS treatment, although several side effects may still occur.
“Further studies are warranted to confirm these findings.”
The data supports a previous Italian study published last year, which demonstrated that medical cannabis improves the efficacy of standard analgesic fibromyalgia treatments.
Published in the Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal, the study followed 102 patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments and collected data over a six-month period from patients, who self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, how well they slept, and feelings of fatigue, as well as depression and anxiety levels.
While only a third of fibromyalgia patients reported reduced symptoms of the disease overall, cannabis did improve overall quality of life for some.
The study of 367 patients found that pain intensity decreased when treated with medical cannabis, leading the team to state that “cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care”.
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