Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and relief with cannabis
ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders of childhood and is characterized by persistent impairments in attention and concentration with the associated symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Over 6.4 million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD, and two-thirds of those are currently taking drugs to control ADHD, fueling a $ 9 billion-a-year industry. Although ADHD is most commonly treated with amphetamine-derived formulations, pure methamphetamine is actually approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD–they just prefer to call it Desoxyn (methamphetamine hydrochloride). There is also growing concerned about the use of Ritalin, the most widely prescribed drug for ADHD, and many parents and professionals are worried about side effects, including damage to the cardiovascular and nervous systems. A lack of dopamine is believed to be one of the primary underlying factors in ADHD. This is the reason why stimulants are such an effective and commonly prescribed treatment, as stimulants mainly act to increase dopamine levels. Dysfunction of the dopamine (DA) system explains some of the clinical manifestations of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and it is thought that the body releases its own natural cannabinoids as a protective response to the onset of ADHD-related symptoms. This would explain why ADHD sufferers gain relief from cannabis use.
Atherosclerosis and the effects of cannabis
Atherosclerosis (also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease or ASVD) is a condition in which an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol. It is commonly referred to as a hardening or furring of the arteries but is a disease where cholesterol deposits form on the inner surfaces of the arteries, obstructing blood flow. Cannabinoids, acting via both CB2 and CB1 receptor modulation, have an important role in immune system regulation. Because inflammation plays a key role in atherogenesis, cannabinoids can potentially affect atherogenesis via modulation of the immune system. In a pioneering study by Steffens et al, oral administration of low-dose THC (1 milligram per kilogram/day) was shown to inhibit the progression of atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic root and abdominal aorta via activation of CB2 receptors on these cells.
Autism and the effects of cannabis
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that appears within the first 3 years of life and mainly affects communication and social skills. The cause of the disorder is not known but is linked to abnormal brain chemistry. Pharmaceutical medications are available to deal with the behavioral consequences of the disorder, but not the disorder itself. These pharmaceuticals have a host of serious side effects that include permanent tics (involuntary muscle movement) and diabetes, as well as being highly toxic chemicals. In 2000 researchers at the University of California at Irvine discovered that because of the interaction between the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and the body’s own natural endocannabinoid system, it could be used to treat autism along with Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Cannabinoids not only regulate emotion and focus but also serve as a neuroprotective preventing the further degradation of brain cells. Moderating an autistic person’s mood consistently is best achieved with an oral dose of cannabis that can be adjusted according to need.
Case History: Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Marie is a novelist who teaches at Columbia University and writes for Slate, Salon, The New York Times, and The Guardian. Marie has been treating her autistic son with legally acquired medical cannabis for several years. It has helped calm her son’s gastrointestinal pain and decrease his associated violent behavior. Cannabis has allowed them to forego the use of pharmaceutical psychotropic drugs that were used to control aggressive outbursts but were totally ineffective at alleviating his pain. Marie has written several essays regarding cannabis and autism and these can be found online. She states that “In our case, I would call our experiment a qualified success. Not because cannabis has cured J, who’s now 11, or anything near it. But it’s alleviated some of his severest symptoms so that he, my husband and I can actually enjoy each other, rather than being held hostage by his autism in a house full of screams, destruction, and three very unhappy people.”