More than 30 million adults in the United States are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Patients with CKD experience many symptoms that include chronic pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, itching, loss of appetite, anxiety and depression. Many of these symptoms are undertreated due to the adverse side effects of medication. Up to 70% of patients with CKD have chronic pain, which is associated with poor quality of life, an in dialysis patients, with poor survival.
Medical marijuana is considered an alternative to many commonly-used medications, to manage the large symptom burden in patients with advanced CKD. There is still debate about whether or not cannabis is helpful or harmful to the kidneys, but information about the effects of cannabis and cannabinoid use on the development and progression of CKD is limited. It would appear that the reports of injury to the kidneys occurred in patients who used synthetic cannabis. In two trials, medical marijuana use was not associated with worse kidney function.
The body has its own cannabis system (the endocannabinoid system), and the activation of this system, by the body’s own messengers, or by using medical marijuana, has several effects on many of the body’s organs. These effects are still being studied. In fact, marijuana has been shown to improve kidney function in models of CKD, and research into developing medication for improving kidney function are underway.
In the meantime, there are several strains of medical cannabis that have been suggested to help in alleviating the large symptom burden that is associated with CKD. The table below lists the symptoms and provides examples of sativas, indicas or hybrids that could be used. There are several strains available, so this list is by no means exhaustive.
|Chronic Pain||Sleep problems||Nausea &vomiting||Poor appetite||Fatigue & weakness||Muscle cramps||Swelling of feet and ankles|
|Examples||Chocolope||Sour Diesel||Silver Haze||Harlequin|
|Examples||Afghan Kush||Granddaddy Purple & Skywalker||Death Star||Critical Mass|
|Examples||Cheese||Girl Scout Cookies||Blue Dream||Cannatonic|
There are many ways in which the marijuana can be used. Should one decide on vaping, one must be aware that the CDC has released a warning about vaping-associated lung disease, which seems to occur when cannabis oil and other compounds are vaped, which has claimed at least one life thus far. Until more is known about this entity, it is prudent to avoid vaping cannabis products.
In summary, the use of medical marijuana is gaining momentum. In patients with CKD, medical marijuana offers alternatives to, or adjunct to traditionally-used analgesics, without many of the side-effects associated with such analgesics. Research on the role of medical cannabis in improving or worsening kidney function is in its infancy, but overall there seems to be no increased worsening kidney function in patients with CKD who opt to use medical marijuana for symptom relief.
Dr. Samanth Green
- CDC Chronic Kidney Disease Initiative. https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease
- Rein JL and Wyatt CM. Marijuana and Cannabinoids in ESRD and Earlier Stages of CKD. American Journal of Kidney Diseases. 2018 Feb; 71(2):267-274
- Park F, Potukuchi PK, et al. Cannabinoids and the kidney: effects in health and disease. American J Renal Physiol. 2017 Nov 1; 313(5): F1124-F1132
- Leonard J. Marijuana for pain: the best strains for chronic pain relief. August 2018.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322051.php
Higher Profile: MDbio, Cannabinoid Products Created by Doctors
When California Head & Neck Surgeon Dr. Babak Larian of MDbio realized that some of his more fragile senior patients were sailing through radiation, and his 40-something buff males were having a hard time pushing past, he began asking some of his seemingly healthier patients what their secret was.
“Some of my patients would giggle and not answer me,” he shared. “Then one elderly woman finally admitted to me that her grandson was rolling her joints. She said it gave her an appetite; she was less anxious, used less narcotics, and wasn’t in pain or depressed.”
Dr. Larian began noticing this was a common thread that was happening more and more over the past 10 years, as cannabis became more accepted in the mainstream via legalization across the country.
One myth of legalization is that more people will become wasted, with crime on the rise—and what about the children? But the reality of legalization is that more people feel comfortable to experiment, and that edibles taken to get high for recreation become medical very quickly if a patient is experiencing illness or pain, with symptoms quelled and little to no negative side effects.
Board Certified, Self Educated on the eCS
Dr. Larian is a Board Certified Surgeon and the Chairman and Director of the Center for Advanced Head & Neck Surgery in Los Angeles. Earning academic and humanitarian distinctions from the UC Irvine School of Medicine, Dr. Larian completed a six-year residency in Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Nationally renowned for his expertise in minimally invasive surgery techniques in the treatment of parathyroid disorders, Dr. Larian was the Clinical Chief of the Division of Otolaryngology at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from 2009 to 2011.
“After repeatedly witnessing cannabis patients doing better than those who didn’t use the herb, I began to educate myself on the Endocannabinoid System, as there was no mention of it in medical school,” he explained. “No one even knew what it was, but more and more the common thread was, these patients were having an easier time during serious treatments.”
Dr. David Allen is a surgeon who educated himself on the Endocannabinoid System (eCS), stating that many of the surgeries over the past 30 years he performed may have been unnecessary.
“I took it upon myself to phone up medical schools, asking if they have the eCS in its curriculum,” he said. “Out of 157 schools queried, just 13% said they merely mention the system that works with plant compounds to keep us healthy.”
The eCS was discovered in 1992 by Lumir Hanus, a Czech analytical chemist working in famed cannabinoid researcher Raphael Mechoulam’s lab in Israel at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, with American pharmacologist, William Devane.
The two isolated the first known endocannabinoid in the human brain, naming it anandamide, after the Sanskrit word for joy or bliss. The discovery of these receptors resulted in the uncovering of naturally occurring neurotransmitters that are endocannabinoids.
Eastern Mentality in the Western World
“We didn’t evolve to take high doses of anything; we evolved with plants,” Dr. Larian continued. “In Guatemala, there’s a tree and its bark lowers blood pressure. They’ve been using it for thousands of years, passed down through generations.”
We evolved to eat plants, and Dr. Larian said that the compounds within them have myriad benefits to address many issues, helping to bring the body back into balance.
“That’s really what this is all about—balance,” he added. “The presumption that we need to take medications to treat everything is faulty, at best. Getting your body in balance with natural practices, such as healthy eating and exercise, that’s where you start.”
The daily stressors of life, Dr. Larian said, adds to our bevy of human illnesses–along with the toxins in our environment and empty foods that can cause inflammation and infection.
“The masses are under duress from many directions and its making us sick” he concluded. “We’ve gotten accustomed to plentifulness, and that’s not always good for us. We used to forage our meals with many plant compounds in our diet. We’d catch a fish, maybe a rabbit every once in a while. We didn’t evolve to eat as much meat as we do today.”
The doctors of MDbio are all schooled in the U.S., but hail from the Middle East, with Persian customs that include centuries of plant-based medicines.
“My family traditionally used plants as medicine,” Dr. Siamak Tabib said. “Remedies were passed down from grandparents to parents to children. I began realizing that cannabis has the whole conglomerate of beneficial compounds within it when Dr. Larian began telling us how many of his own patients were doing better clinically than those who weren’t using the plant during traditional treatments.”
Dr. Tabib is a graduate of the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and a fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the combined UCLA/Cedars-Sinai medical program. A Board Certified Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Dr. Tabib has a private practice in Beverly Hills/West Los Angeles and also serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA.
Dr. Tabib said he began looking into his patients’ use of cannabis, with surprising results.
“I gently brought up the topic to my patients and was surprised to find out that a good number of them were already using cannabinoid therapies, but were afraid to tell me about it,” he said. “They thought it might be an issue in my taking care of them—but what it did was inspire me to learn more.”
What he found was his own patients were silently and successfully treating colitis, Crohn’s Disease, inflammatory bowl disease and more—including quelling any negative side effects from the pharmaceuticals he was prescribing.
It’s long been known in the cannabis community that patients are already treating illnesses with cannabis and other plants, waiting for doctors and legislatures to catch up. When doctors listen to their patients, then get educated, it propels the entire movement forward, because the healing can’t be denied.
“I started attending lectures, going to cannabis conferences, and learning all I could about this plant and its many uses,” he said. “We all learned a lot, but then, where do we go from here? Once my patients trusted me to talk to me about it, I then needed to learn about dosing—how many milligrams for what ailment? I honestly didn’t know. How could I? I couldn’t say, just go smoke some weed.”
The doctors felt it was their duty to help their patients figure out how to most effectively use cannabis–not to necessarily replace pharmaceuticals, but help them navigate using the plant with the treatments they offered.
“I think there’s a role cannabis can play in replacing pharmaceuticals, but what we’ve witnessed first hand is the actual reduction of many pharmaceuticals, including addictive painkillers when using cannabis in tandem,” Tabib said. “We just needed to compile evidence at this point–not just to prove the efficacy of cannabis, but also to aid us in further developing formulations and dosing to help our patients who were already treating themselves.”
Trials and Tribulations
The board-certified doctors, who include a urological oncological surgeon, founder of the Comprehensive Urology Medical Group at Cedars-Sinai Medical Tower in Los Angeles; and foot and ankle surgeon Kamran Jamshidinia, resident training specialist, also at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, began looking at clinical trials, not just their own patient observations, and noted a correlation of advanced healing.
“We took more than three years to research and formulate what we felt was a good start,” Dr. Tabib said. “We’re still developing our formulations per our patient’s needs. It was a grueling process, but we needed the science to be right. All the while, our patients were asking, ‘Do you have something for us yet?’”
Important to note, these doctors aren’t just white-labeling a CBD product with their name on it. With MDbio’s own observational studies from their own patients—who initially taught them—they are now in the process of running clinical studies in order to keep improving the products.
So far, the brand includes four formulations using whole-plant CBD in gel capsules: MDcalm, MDsleep, MDimmune+, and MDrelief, targeting sleep, pain, anxiety, and prevention via immune system building.
There is not just full-spectrum Hemp CBD (hybridized cannabis cultivar high in cannabidiol) in each product, but a combination of healing herbs that actually increase the efficacy of the CBD for the issue at hand.
For instance, MDrelief includes white willow bark and frankincense in the mix. White willow bark’s active ingredient is salicin, the stuff German pharmaceutical company Bayer created Aspirin with to treat arthritis in 1899. Not just incense for the baby Jesus, frankincense is a medicinal compound said to reduce pain via anti-inflammatory properties. It is also said to improve gut function, aid in bronchial afflictions, and is said to be an antioxidant—or a compound that kills cancer cells.
“What we’ve found so far is remarkable efficacy from these products that we’ve held back long enough,” Dr. Tabib concluded. “While I don’t think cannabis can cure everything in the world, in conjunction with a lot of other therapies, the results have been stunning.”
For more information visit mdbiowellness.com.
The post Higher Profile: MDbio, Cannabinoid Products Created by Doctors appeared first on High Times.
What’s the deal with 420?
April 20th is an annual holiday for weed smokers around the world. From Cali to Amsterdam, DC to South Africa and everywhere in between, weed smokers have anointed this day as a celebration of cannabis culture.
But how did 420 start?
Word is that in 1971 5 friends from San Rafael High in California, Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — chose to get together at 4:20 p.m. because by that time, extracurricular activities were usually over. The friends used to blaze up at the Louis Pasteur statute on the grounds of their school engaging in an activity that at the time was strictly illegal, so they started to use “420” as code for weed.
Legend has it that one member of the group, Reddix, got a job working with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. Grateful Dead fans began to spread the word of the ritual by distributing flyers inviting people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. The magazine High Times printed a copy of the flyer and from there, it blew up around the world!
CBD May Help Boost Cognitive Performance in Gamers
When it comes to the Electronics Sports League (ESL), competitive gamers are required to submit a random drug screening for performance-enhancing substances. Of what’s tested, cannabis is one of the few that’s debated.
Most people look at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its ability to impair cognitive function. More particularly, it may actually worsen brain mechanics that are essential to gaming, such as basic motor coordination for complex tasks (i.e. planning, organizing, solving problems, making decisions, etc.).
However, most don’t consider cannabidiol (CBD) and its potential to enhance cognitive performance. While research remains preliminary, many scientists are discovering that CBD’s ability to reduce symptoms of health conditions (and not cause psychoactivity) is actually beneficial for brainpower.
In turn, gamers who struggle with a specific health condition (such as anxiety) will likely find they’re more relaxed and level-headed when gaming on CBD oil.
But how much do we know about CBD’s cognitive-enhancing effects? And how exactly do these effects pertain to gamers? We invite you to follow along as we answer these questions.
Why is Cognitive Performance Essential for Gaming?
Before we dive into CBD, it’s important to understand how our brain operates when we play video games. Naturally, your brain’s reaction to outside stimuli has a lot to do with the type of information it’s receiving. In other words, it’s unlikely you’ll have the same reaction to a puzzle game as you would a violent video game.
Still, most video games feature similar stimuli for our brains, including fast speeds, high perceptuality, and unpredictability. These features can increase activity in brain regions linked to anxiety, arousal, and emotional reaction. Furthermore, they can simultaneously decrease activity happening in the frontal lobe which is responsible for emotional regulation and executive control.
As you can imagine, the more control you have over these brain regions, the more likely you are to perform better in a video game.
However, research has also found video games can have the opposite effect. One study found that participants who played League of Legends for one hour had increased performance on visual selective tests. This means that a short period of gaming actually improved attention skills.
While there’s only so much research, it’s a universal agreement that the time length of a gaming session plays a major role in a video game’s effects on the brain. More so, the longer a person games, the more negative attributes begin to appear.
As gamers, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves playing for 4 to 6 hours at a time. Over that period, it’s likely we can feel some of the negative effects research has found (especially as we get older). And with all that, many of us have certainly asked ourselves if there is a way to ease that temporary cognitive decline.
How CBD Interacts with Your Brain on Games
To begin, we don’t have a 100% clear understanding of how CBD interacts with our brains. Through neuroimaging studies, we do know that the brain undergoes significant changes when consuming a CBD product. The most notable of these is an increase in brain activity and connectivity patterns while performing cognitive tasks or in a resting state.
More specifically, CBD has been found to improve emotional processing (in the fronto-temporal), verbal memory (in the fronto-striatal), response inhibition (in the fronto-limbic-stratal), and auditory/visual processing (in the temporo-occipital). As we’ve discussed, all of these processes are essential to gaming to some degree.
Furthermore, research showed that CBD was more beneficial to these processes than THC. And that the results of this study align with research concerning CBD’s effects on specific psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, autism, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
This is one of the key elements of CBD in regards to gaming. While it can potentially help in the short term (through an improvement in cognition), it’ll likely help more when taken in the long term (by easing other stressors you may be experiencing).
To offer a better sense of how CBD can improve a gamer’s mentality, here are four medical advantages you may garner when taking it daily:
1) Reduction of Stress and Other Psychological Conditions
As mentioned, one of the most significant aspects of CBD research is its potential to improve certain mental illnesses. Of course, not all gamers struggle with such conditions. However, it’s safe to say that all competitive video games produce a certain level of stress that inhibits one’s ability to perform well.
With that said, much of the research concerning CBD for anxiety is applicable to someone who experiences such psychological stressors while gaming.
In one review, it was determined that specific brain regions associated with anxiety behaviors were reduced when participants took CBD. More specifically, that CBD was able to reduce “amygdala activation and altered medial prefrontal amygdala connectivity.”
In other words, if a video game is anxiety-inducing, CBD holds the ability to reduce said anxiety in the moment of gaming.
Furthermore, if you do struggle with a mental health condition, it’s likely that it is causing more stress and depleting your ability to focus. For example, if you struggle with depression, over time, the condition can impair your attention and memory, making it more difficult for information processing and decision-making.
If you find that you can use CBD for depression, it may help to improve your cognitive performance over time.
2) Improvement in Quality of Sleep
Do you find yourself gaming late into the night, so often that it’s inhibiting your quality of sleep? If so, you’re not alone. One review revealed that many gamers have numerous problems with getting a good night’s rest.
The difficulty here is that sleep is essential to cognitive function. The more you struggle with sleep, the more your brain’s neurons become overworked. In turn, this can lead to slowed-down thinking and reaction time, along with a hindrance of cognitive flexibility (i.e. your ability to adapt to new environments). Furthermore, your processing of emotional information is also diminished.
These consequences of negative sleep can obviously have many negative effects on your ability to game. Therefore, taking CBD for sleep may help to improve not only your quality of sleep but your cognitive performance.
A number of studies have looked into how CBD affects sleep and most agree that it doesn’t necessarily induce sleep, but eases symptoms that inhibit sleep. For example, if you struggle with anxiety, CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety will likely make it easier to get a better night’s rest.
For this reason, the best CBD products for sleep tend to come with other all-natural alternatives that promote relaxation, such as melatonin, valerian root, or ashwagandha.
3) Reduction in Muscle, Joint, and Back Pain
There’s no denying that long-term gaming can cause wear and tear on the body. More specifically, gaming has been found to cause lower back pain alongside muscle and joint pain (specifically, in the fingers, hands, wrist, and arms).
When it comes to CBD for pain, it isn’t a cure. However, CBD does hold the ability to reduce inflammation and pain throughout the body, making these symptoms less distracting. So, if you incorporate CBD alongside exercises, stretches, and other benefits for these types of pains, you’ll likely notice a difference.
And this difference can affect your ability to perform in a video game. For example, if you struggle with joint pain in the fingers, it’s likely that a reduction in that pain will allow you to play better.
For such pains, a CBD topical is ideal as it allows you to target specific areas of the body. The best CBD creams are usually made using menthol, an ingredient that provides you with an instant cooling effect for immediate relief.
4) Provision of a Sense of Well-Being
If you naturally feel a sense of well-being, chances are you’re going to improve in every aspect of your life. And CBD may just have what you need in order to receive that sense of well-being.
Within each of us is an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which plays an important role in a number of day-to-day functions, including our appetite, immune response, memory, mood, pain control, and sleep.
While researchers aren’t 100% sure how CBD affects the ECS, they theorize it helps to return it to a state of homeostasis. In turn, people who take CBD often report feeling an overall sense of well-being in their lives.
As of this time, we can’t conclude CBD’s effects on boosting cognition in gamers are direct. While neuroimaging shows that CBD can improve cognitive function, research remains in its early stages.
However, we can assume CBD’s ability to help in other areas of our lives can help to improve cognition for gaming. Beyond the fact that it acts on brain regions that are triggered when playing video games, it can relieve symptoms of other conditions that inhibit cognition.
And many gamers are starting to catch onto this. That’s why Twitch streamers like Summit1g and Pokelawls are consuming cannabis-derived products.
Admittedly, the ESL doesn’t ban cannabis use altogether—only usage of cannabis products during the competition. In other words, using CBD (or other cannabis products) prior to the event comes at no consequence.
The post CBD May Help Boost Cognitive Performance in Gamers appeared first on High Times.
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