Can Cannabis Treat the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

Cannabis and Parkinsons

While difficult-to-treat diseases like Parkinson’s disease (PD) can seem scary, there has been a recent increase in non-traditional approaches to managing them. Although there is still a lot of research to be done, cannabis is gaining some recognition for its ability to ease the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. This article outlines what we currently know about how medical cannabis can help.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition known as a motor system disorder. It develops as a result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Over time, this progressive disease causes severe changes in movement that can impact a person’s ability to perform regular activities. It is most commonly characterized by motor symptoms that include tremors, shaking, the rigidity of muscles, and slowed movement. It also causes non-motor symptoms like depression, anxiety, sleep problems, constipation, fatigue, and more.

As PD symptoms develop, patients can have difficulty talking, walking, and completing simple tasks. While some people end up severely disabled, others only experience minor motor symptoms. The intensity of symptoms varies from person to person, and it isn’t possible to predict which symptoms a patient will develop.

Cannabis and Parkinsons spelled out

Over 1 million people are living with PD in America alone, with over 10 million people diagnosed worldwide. While PD can happen at any age, most people start to develop symptoms after the age of 50. There is currently no cure for PD, but there are medications that can ease symptoms by helping to replenish dopamine in the brain.

While many patients can benefit from these drugs, not all symptoms respond equally. Some have side effects that cause additional tremor symptoms called dyskinesia, which has many patients and researchers looking to cannabis as an alternative treatment.

Cannabis and Parkinson’s

Science is continually working to develop new ways to treat and manage PD symptoms to improve quality of life, and cannabis has the potential to help.

One of the essential physiologic systems that help maintain our overall health is the endocannabinoid system. It works by promoting homeostasis, and effects everything from appetite, sleep, pain, memory, mood, inflammation, and more. Our endocannabinoid receptors become stimulated by the endocannabinoids we make naturally in our bodies, but they are also stimulated by the cannabinoids found in cannabis.

Cannabis and Parkinsons brain on leaf

Parkinson’s disease affects the area in the brain that controls motor function called the basal ganglia, which happens to contain many cannabinoid receptors. Medical cannabis has the potential to help people with PD find relief from symptoms like pain, tremors, sleep and mood disturbances, and problems with movement. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, along with the ability to act as neuroprotector and promote the development of new neurons. Many benefits can even come from the relaxing effects cannabis has on the brain and the body.

Cannabis and Parkinson’s: Movement Control

Symptoms associated with movement are one of the most significant problems for people with PD. The good news is cannabinoid receptors are present in the areas of the brain that are involved in movement control. However, we are still figuring out the exact role that cannabinoids play in the process. While many patients report improvements in their condition from using cannabis, experiments have produced varied results with symptoms like slowness, tremor, and dyskinesia.

Cannabis and Parkinsons caregiver helping patient

One 2014 study found that patients with PD showed improvements in sleep, pain, and tremors after 30 minutes of taking cannabis. While some findings indicate that cannabinoids could help with movement control, others found no effect or that it made it worse. Mixed results like these prove that a lot of research is still needed to learn about the role cannabis plays in helping control movement and how we can use it to improve PD treatments.

Brain Cell Protection

Cannabinoids have a wide variety of actions, which means there is a lot of potential for them to treat Parkinson’s in different ways. Neurodegenerative diseases like PD cause brain cells to struggle with various problems like inflammation, protein misfolding, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial failure.

Many inflammatory changes occur in the brains of people with PD, and the diseases may even be triggered by it. Fortunately, there has been a lot of research that has focused on the CB2 receptors and their ability to regulate inflammation. One study from 2010 found cannabinoids to have significant anti-inflammatory properties, which could potentially help protect brain cells and slow the progression of PD.

Other Symptoms

Although Parkinson’s is known for its physical symptoms, it produces a range of other debilitating issues like anxiety, depression, memory problems, and hallucinations. These are often the most difficult symptoms to treat, but cannabis is showing promise in addressing these. Cannabis has been reported to help reduce pain, improve sleep, and ease some psychological issues associated with battling PD.

As researchers continue to understand how the endocannabinoid system works, advances will likely give us insight into how cannabis can be used for neurological conditions. While there are many ways cannabis can help someone with Parkinson’s, we are continuing to learn the best ways it can be used. Cannabis can have some minor side effects, but many people prefer them to the risks associated with traditional PD medications.

Ultimately, the best way to determine whether cannabis is a suitable option for Parkinson’s is to discuss it with your physician. Maryland is one of only a few states that allows trained physicians to make cannabis recommendation for conditions beyond those listed as qualifying conditions. If you feel that your current treatment plan is not working for you, let your doctor now!

Already have a recommendation or want to learn more about getting one in Maryland? Schedule an appointment today!

How to Treat Insomnia With Cannabis

cannabis for insomnia

There’s nothing quite as sweet as a good night’s sleep. It helps us feel our best and is crucial for long-term health and wellness. Unfortunately, millions of Americans suffer from the frustration of chronic insomnia and are searching for a solution.

When our natural sleep cycles are thrown-off by modern life, things like stress, erratic schedules, and too much caffeine can keep us staring at the ceiling at 2 AM. It’s easy to want to turn to prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids that can make you feel groggy the next morning, but cannabis can be a much better solution. Let’s take a look at the facts about cannabis for insomnia. Here’s how it works.

Cannabis for Insomnia

When physical symptoms like chronic pain and stiffness make it hard to fall asleep, cannabis can come to the rescue by acting as an analgesic. It can also soothe anxiety to help ease a racing mind, which makes getting to sleep and staying there a lot easier.

cannabis for insomnia person awake in bed

While THC and CBD are both cannabinoids that provide some amazing therapeutic benefits for sleep, THC acts as the more powerful sedative. Besides making you feel sleepy, cannabis with higher amounts of THC works to reduce REM, which helps you stay in the deeper, more restful phases of sleep for longer. This action can be helpful for those who have trouble staying asleep through the night, as well as those who suffer from bad dreams.

CBD has many relaxing properties without the “high” associated with THC. So if you’d rather avoid noticable photoactive effects, you might prefer winding down in the evenings with some CBD. When we take time to relax before bedtime, it makes falling asleep a lot easier. Combine CBD with a warm bath or a good book, and avoid screens with blue light to put yourself in the right mental and physical state for sleep.

Taking Cannabis Before Bed

There are many ways to take cannabis, so you might be wondering which consumption method is the best for sleep. Smoking or vaporizing flower and concentrates allows you to experience the effects instantly, so you can take it whenever you are ready to relax. Edibles and tinctures take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours before the full effects set in, so you’ll want to time your dosage accordingly.

cannabis for insomnia woman smoking in bed

It’s also important to remember that cannabis is biphasic. That means it can have opposite effects at high and low doses. Lower doses have the potential to produce feelings of alertness and heightened awareness, while higher doses can make you feel more sedated. It might take a little experimenting to find the amount that works best for you at bedtime. But remember you can always re-dose if you don’t feel the desired effects.

Final Thoughts About Cannabis for Sleep

Like any substance, cannabis won’t work the same way for everyone. Some people find high-THC products too stimulating or anxiety provoking, while others find them very soothing and relaxing. It’s a good idea to experiment with different strains until you discover what works for you.

cannabis for insomnia leaf shadow on bed

If you aren’t sure where to start, our dispensary staff will be happy to make some recommendations for you based on your goals and your experience with cannabis.

Are you ready to see for yourself what cannabis can do for your insomnia? If you have been unable to find relief with prescription medication, schedule an appointment or just drop in to learn more about becoming a patient.

Can You Treat Anxiety With Cannabis?

best cannabis for anxiety

Cannabis and anxiety have a confusing relationship. While it’s becoming more popular to use cannabis as a remedy for anxiety, it works differently for different people. The same cannabis strain might provide instant relaxation and relief for one person while causing heightened anxiety for someone else.

Fortunately, there is such a large variety of medical cannabis choices that most people who need a remedy for anxiety can find something that works for them. In this article, we will take a look at the best cannabis for anxiety and how to choose something that will work for you.

How Does Cannabis Work for Anxiety?

THC and CBD are two of the most abundant and well-studied cannabinoids, and they both act on parts of the brain that influence anxiety. While THC can help to reduce anxiety in some people – especially in low to moderate doses – it can actually promote anxious feelings in others. Studies show that CBD has more general anxiety-reducing effects and can even help increase serotonin levels, supporting an overall positive mood.

best cannabis for anxiety cannabis brain

One of the main reasons cannabis produces a calming effect is because it acts on the neurotransmitter GABA, which can ease anxiety. Most prescription anxiety medications also work by targeting GABA in the brain. But these types of drugs come with a host of unwanted side-effects, causing people to seek alternatives like cannabis.

Researchers think that cannabis also works to promote relaxation by helping to lower the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers the fight-or-flight stress response. We are only beginning to understand the mechanisms with which cannabis provides relief from anxiety, but we do know that achieving positive effects can depend on finding the right strain and dosage.

What is the Best Cannabis for Anxiety?

If you are new to cannabis and want to try it for anxiety, start by experimenting with strains that are higher in CBD and lower in THC. A few high-CBD strains to look for include Harlequin, Harle Tsu, ACDC, Ringo’s Gift, or Sweet and Sour Diesel.

best cannabis for anxiety bud

For those who are comfortable with using a little more THC to combat their anxiety, Indica strains are a great choice because of the deep-relaxation inducing effects they can provide. Some Indica-dominate strains famous for easing anxiety include Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights, and Blackberry Kush.

Another popular option is CBD-only products. They don’t contain any THC, and are a good option if feeling “high” dosn’t appeal to you. Both animal and human studies have shown that CBD can significantly reduce anxiety as opposed to placebo, and could be especially useful for those who experience social anxiety.  

Why “Less is More” When Using Cannabis for Anxiety

Cannabis is biphasic, which means it can have opposite effects at low and high doses. Smaller amounts of THC are known to promote a pleasant and euphoric experience, while high doses can sometimes cause over-stimulation and racing thoughts. If you find that THC increases your anxiety rather than eases it, you might try lowing your dose.

best cannabis for anxiety vape cartridge, pre-roll, flower

Again, everyone is different, and it takes a little experimentation to learn how different levels of THC will make you feel. CBD can work to combat some of the anxiety-inducing effects of THC, which is another reason that products with a generous amount of CBD, and low to moderate amounts of THC, are often recommended for people who are prone to anxiety.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from a mental health condition like anxiety, remember you are not alone. There is help available to you. Always talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and treatment options, including medical cannabis. Whatever treatments you decide to try, the process will involve some trial and error to find out what works for you as an individual.

The bottom line is that cannabis affects everyone differently and finding the stains and products that relieve your anxiety will take a little experimentation. Keep a journal to track what works and what doesn’t, and always talk to your dispensary staff about your concerns and ask for recommendations.

If you are ready to learn more about becoming a medical cannabis user, make an appointment today. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is here to help.

Finding The Right Cannabis Strain And Consumption Method

finding the right cannabis strain

If you’ve recently decided to take advantage of all the benefits of medical cannabis, you might be feeling overwhelmed with the variety of strains and methods of consumption. While it can seem confusing at first, it gets easier once you know the basics. In this article, we’ll go over finding the right cannabis strain and consumption methods that work for you.

What Makes a Cannabis Strain Unique?

To get an idea of what makes a strain stand out, it’s helpful to understand a little about cannabis chemistry. While there are hundreds of different compounds in any given variety, the cannabinoids and terpenes will have the most significant impact on how a strain will make you feel.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are the most active cannabis compounds and are typically the biggest players when it comes to choosing a strain for a specific condition. While there are several different cannabinoids that contribute to the therapeutic effects of cannabis, THC and CBD are the most prevalent.

THC: strains high in THC are an excellent choice for those who need help with sleep or stress.  It can help you fall asleep faster and even help reduce nightmares. It’s also great for:

  • Pain relief
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Depression
  • Relaxation

CBD: Strains high in CBD are preferable for those who want to avoid the “high” associated with THC and those who need localized pain management. It also has a positive effect on mood and counteracts potential adverse side effects of THC like anxiety or memory impairment. People choose CBD to help manage issues like:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasm
  • Overall wellness
  • A wide range of other conditions

Terpenes

Terpenes are what give a strain its specific taste and aroma, as well as some of its therapeutic benefits. There are many types of terpenes, and it takes a little time and experience to become familiar with how they can benefit you.

It’s best to start by choosing strains with aromas you find pleasant. It’s also a good idea to ask your dispensary staff to recommend strains with specific terpenes that can help you achieve your desired outcome.

Finding the Right Cannabis Strain: Cannabis Strain Categories

Sativas often contain high amounts of THC. They are known to provide therapeutic benefits without causing too much sedation, which is great for those who want to go about their everyday tasks. People also enjoy sativas for their ability to promote creativity, energy and combat depression. Sativas are known to help with the following conditions:

  • Migraines
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Low appetite

Indicas sometimes have less THC than sativas, but amounts vary widely by strain. They tend to have more sedative effects and are great for those who need help relaxing or sleeping. People often choose indicas to relieve the symptoms of these conditions:

Hybrids are a cross between indicas and sativas. They are typically very potent and can offer a blend of therapeutic properties found in both strain categories. Most of the cannabis you find at dispensaries are sativa-dominant or indica dominant hybrids. Generations of cross-breeding have made it pretty rare to find a true indica or sativa these days.

Finding the Right Cannabis Strain: Consumption Methods

Choosing a consumption method comes down to personal preference. Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of smoking, while others may have respiratory conditions that make smoking out of the question. While vaping is a healthier version of inhalation, you also have the option of ingestion (edibles and capsules), oral absorption (sublingual drops), or topical application (lotions and salves.) Your dispensary stuff will be happy to help you select a method based on your preferences and goals.

Keeping a Cannabis Journal

The effects of a strain can vary widely from person to person, so the best way to find the right strain for your condition is to do some experimenting. Starting a cannabis journal can help you develop an understanding of how different strains make you feel. By writing down the strain, your consumption method, and your experience, you’ll develop a personal database of the effectiveness of different products and how they contribute to your wellbeing.

Whatever goals you want to achieve with cannabis, finding the right cannabis strain is an important first step. The staff at Remedy Columbia will be happy to help you with all your questions and provide helpful recommendations. Stop by or schedule an appointment today!

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome: Can Cannabis Make You Sick?

Cannabis Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome 1200x630

It may seem paradoxical that cannabis — which is often used to treat nausea and vomiting — can cause Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) in some users. Yet some chronic cannabis users may develop Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (also sometimes called “Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome,” a condition that causes persistent vomiting, seemingly endless vomiting episodes, and severe abdominal pain. In this article, you’ll learn more about what the symptoms are, why CHS only occurs in some individuals, how to determine if you have CHS, and what the stages of the condition are.

What Are The Symptoms of CHS?

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome nauseous man

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is an episodic condition, meaning it comes and goes. The most obvious symptom of CHS is vomiting sessions lasting between 24 and 48 hours, followed by asymptomatic periods that can last weeks or months.

During an episode, patients will experience any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain that can’t be relieved with conventional treatments (e.g., ondansetron, promethazine, and metoclopramide)
  • Dehydration
  • Disorientation
  • Extended periods of nausea and vomiting — up to 20 times per day
  • Severe nausea and intractable vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss

According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, researchers identified the major diagnostic characteristics of CHS patients:

  • Abdominal pain (85.1%)
  • At least weekly cannabis use, but usually much more (97.4%)
  • Chronic cannabis use for more than a year (74.8%)
  • Severe nausea and vomiting (100%)
  • Symptoms go away after patients stop using cannabis (96.8%)
  • Men are more likely to suffer from CHS — men represented 72.9 percent of patients in the study

Why Does Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Occur Only in Some Cannabis Users?

The answer to this question remains a mystery, although there are a few proposed explanations:

  • Genetics: Individuals who get CHS may have a genetic or immune vulnerability;
  • Long-Term Excessive Use of Cannabis: With rare exception, most everyone who develops CHS have been using cannabis for a long time, and often;
  • Digestive Tract: Our digestive tract contains many molecules that bind to THC that cannabis use can affect. In some people, long-term cannabis use may alter the way their molecules respond, which could lead to CHS.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome nauseous woman

How Do You Know You Have CHS?

There are two indicators that suggest a person has CHS:

  • Nausea and vomiting that go away (temporarily) after the patient takes a hot bath, shower, or medicates with capsaicin (an active component of chili peppers). No other vomiting condition we know reverses itself due to heat;
  • Symptoms cease and don’t recur after a sustained period of abstinence. If cessation of cannabis use doesn’t eliminate CHS, the patient may have a different type of cyclic vomiting condition.

Keep in mind that the severity and length of time a patient suffers from symptoms can vary dramatically among those with CHS.

What Are The Stages of CHS?

There are three stages of CHS symptoms:

Phase 1: Prodromal Phase

This phase can last anywhere from months to years. During this phase, a patient will generally experience nausea and abdominal pain when they wake up in the morning.

During this phase, most patients can still maintain their regular eating patterns. However, many patients up their cannabis use, thinking the cannabis will cure their nausea and vomiting. It’s obviously paradoxical that cannabis (which many patients use to get rid of nausea and vomiting) could cause it others.

Phase 2: Hyperemetic phase

During the hyperemetic phase, patients will experience persistent nausea, abdominal pain, reduced appetite and food intake, dehydration, and ongoing vomiting episodes. Vomiting during this phase can be overwhelming and may persist until the patient stops their cannabis use.

Phase 3: Recovery phase

During this phase — which can last between days to months — the patient’s appetite goes back to normal, and they no longer experience symptoms. Symptoms will likely return if the patient resumes cannabis use.

Final Thoughts: Treating Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

Clearly, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is no joke for those suffering from it. Fortunately, it can be treated. Unfortunately, the only long-term solution is for a patient to stop using cannabis, permanently. Also, as we noted earlier, patients can find short-term relief by taking a hot shower, a bath, or by using a topical capsaicin cream.

Would you like to know more about medical cannabis? We’d love to help. Schedule an appointment and we can help you become a registered Medical Cannabis Patient in Maryland.

Most Medical Cannabis is Used as Pain Relief

medical cannabis statistics

For people who depend on cannabis to live a high-quality life, it will come as no surprise that the most common reason Americans use this plant is to treat pain. A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan looked at cannabis use as a treatment for a long list of health issues to see exactly why people are turning to it for medicine, among other medical cannabis statistics. They found that almost two-thirds of patients are using cannabis for chronic pain.

Unfortunately, cannabis is still a Schedule I drug according to the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes it difficult to conduct nationwide studies on cannabis users. This study was designed to understand medical cannabis statistics in states where it’s legally allowed. They wanted to see if patients are using cannabis for evidence-based, medically approved reasons. Here’s what they found.

Medical Cannabis Statistics in the US

medical cannabis statistics US

The researchers analyzed data from the 15 states that report the reasons for the patient’s medical cannabis use. They found that chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts beyond a few months, is the most common reason people choose to use medical cannabis. A large number of patients also report using medical cannabis to treat the stiffness associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea that comes with chemotherapy.

These findings are in line with a large number of Americans who suffer from chronic pain, which is estimated to be over 100 million people. They are also consistent with solid scientific evidence that cannabis works as an effective treatment for pain.

The researchers looked at symptoms and conditions that have been proven to be alleviated by cannabis based on a report by the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine. They found that 85 percent of the patients use cannabis for reasons that are supported by conclusive or substantial evidence.

Removing the Stigma of Cannabis

The researchers said that their findings don’t support the current status of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which classifies it has having no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. This scheduling puts it in the same category as heroin and cocaine, despite it being legal in 10 states and approved for medical use in 33 states.

medical cannabis statistics researcher looking at plant

The researchers argue that it’s time for the federal government to figure out how to properly regulate cannabis and incorporate it into medical practice in a safe way. Until these changes are put in place, there will continue to be no clinical guidelines for medical cannabis like there are for traditional prescription drugs.

What’s on the Horizon?

While the current federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance is frustrating, there is hope on the horizon. According to polls by the Pew Research Center, six out of 10 Americans want to fully legalize cannabis. That’s 62% of the US voting population. A whopping 84% believe that cannabis has health benefits and should be available for medical use.

medical cannabis statistics greenhouse

With the rise in cannabis awareness, education, and support — and with positive medical cannabis statistics — we are hopefully on our way to living in a country where cannabis is available to everyone who needs it.

Ready to learn more about how you can access cannabis? Schedule an appointment for help becoming a registered Maryland Medical Cannabis Patient.

Can Cannabis Help With Brain Trauma?

cannabis for brain trauma

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects 1.7 million people in the US every year and is one of the leading causes of death in young people. TBI is usually triggered by concussions from things like falls, car accidents, and violent sports like football. Many who survive head injuries end up with permanent neurological and behavioral impairment, learning and memory problems, post-traumatic seizures, and lower life expectancy.

Unfortunately, the treatment for TBI is limited, and there are only a few pharmaceutical options. But thanks to scientific research and lots of personal accounts from medical cannabis patients, there is hope on the horizon. Let’s take a look at why cannabis for brain trauma may become the next go-to treatment.

Cannabis for Brain Trauma

Scientists are encouraged by the possibility of treating neurological conditions like autism and epilepsy with cannabis, and it looks like cannabis can offer hope to people who have endured head trauma as well.

cannabis for brain trauma scans

A 2014 article published in American Surgeon looked at how cannabis use affected those who suffered TBI. It reported that a positive screening for THC was associated with decreased mortality in patients who experienced TBI.  According to this study done by UCLA Medical Center researchers, individuals afflicted with TBI who also consume cannabis are more likely to live longer and less likely to die than TBI patients who abstain.

But how do cannabinoids like THC and CBD provide neuroprotection?

Plant cannabinoids can augment and mimic the cannabinoids that mammals produce internally called endocannabinoids. They are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that regulates some brain processes that are important in TBI, like inflammation, neuroplasticity, and blood flow to the brain.

The ECS is equipped with what is described as a self-protection mechanism. It will kick in as a response to trauma like TBI or a stroke. Endocannabinoid levels in the brain will spike when the brain is traumatized, activating cannabinoid receptors to begin healing. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD can activate the same receptors and offer similar healing effects.

The Power of CBD

CBD is such a versatile medicine that it is known as a “promiscuous compound,” producing a number of benefits through many different pathways. It’s very active against a condition called brain ischemia, where there isn’t enough blood flow to the brain. It has also been shown to reduce brain damage and promote recovery in animal models of TBI and stroke.

What’s really appealing about CBD is that it doesn’t produce intoxicating effects like THC, and it doesn’t lead to tolerance.

The benefits of CBD are well known among boxers, football players, and other athletes who have experienced a brain injury. Professional football players are turning to CBD as a way to prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease linked to repeated head injuries. CTE causes aggression, depression, dementia, and even suicide.

cannabis for brain trauma cbd

Prevention is crucial when it comes to CTE because there is no way to diagnose it while the patient is alive. So many NFL players are turning to cannabis to protect the health of their brain as well as alleviate pain and inflammation. While more research is needed to determine whether this is helpful, we always find it exciting to learn about new uses for cannabis.

Are you ready to find out more about how cannabis for brain trauma can benefit you? Stop by or schedule an appointment. Our staff is happy to help!

The Latest on Cannabis for Depression

Cannabis for Depression

We can all agree that one of the most popular reasons people use cannabis is because it makes them feel good. Even the phrase “getting high” refers to its ability to uplift our mental state. But can cannabis be used clinically to treat depression? In this article, we’ll break down the use of medical cannabis for depression and take a look at what the latest research has to say.

Cannabis for Depression

Depression affects more than 300 million people and is considered the biggest cause of disability around the world. Current treatments for depression are useful for many, but they can take weeks before a patient experiences relief. These drugs also come with a host of unwanted side effects, and weaning off of them can be a long and horrible experience. With that said, there is hope for effective alternatives.

Cannabis for Depression depressed woman

Researchers are looking to medical cannabis to treat conditions like depression because of its ability to balance the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring brain chemicals that play a role in cognition, mood, emotions, and behavior.

The idea is that by introducing cannabis into the brain, balance is restored to the system. Some researchers think that chronic stress can suppress the production of endocannabinoids in the brain and lead to depression-like symptoms. This makes sense because stress and depression often go together.

While THC works to relieve depression for many people, there is currently a lot of clinical interest in CBD because of its potential for a large-spectrum of therapies. Researchers are especially interested in the effects of CBD on the brain because of its ability to treat neurological disorders like epilepsy. But can CBD treat depression?

CBD Acts Like an Antidepressant

One of the most recent studies done on the effects of cannabis for depression showed promising results using CBD. The study published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology found that CBD affected mice much like antidepressant drugs. The researchers used rodents who were bred to develop depressive symptoms and found that CBD increased their resilience in stress models of depression. Essentially, the CBD worked like an antidepressant for these animals.

Cannabis for Depression cbd oil

What’s really exciting is that the effects developed very quickly, within an hour of being administered, and lasted for a week after a single dose. Traditional antidepressants like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) take weeks to start working and need to be taken every day.

How Does CBD Work for Depression?

The positive effects of CBD seen in this study are associated with a significant release of neurotrophin (BDNF) in parts of the brain responsible for depression. BDNF promotes neuroplasticity and the formation of new cells, which can cause an antidepressant effect.

Cannabis for Depression leaf on brain

Another rodent study done by the same team found that CBD’s antidepressant-like properties are associated with serotonin levels. This means that CBD might be able to enhance the effectiveness of traditional antidepressant drugs like SSRIs.

Is Cannabis for Depression Right for You?

While these findings are exciting, more research on human patients is needed before CBD or cannabis becomes an accepted treatment in mainstream medicine. Regardless of the research, many patients claim that cannabis works wonders to fight depression in their lives. Patients report it helps them handle day-to-day stress and allows them to see things in a more positive light. And there’s no question that people who use cannabis for recreation enjoy it for its mood-enhancing abilities.

Cannabis for Depression vial

If your doctor feels that cannabis may help manage your depression, Maryland law currently allows them to make that recommendation.

Ready to learn more about how cannabis can relieve feelings of depression? Schedule an appointment for help becoming a registered Maryland Medical Cannabis Patient.

Mitch Trellis on What’s Poppin with Deja Perez

DEJA PEREZ: Hola, guys, Deja Perez back with another edition of What’s Poppin the Podcast on 93.9 WKYS, and today we have Mitch from Remedy Columbia. How are you doing?

MITCH TRELLIS: I’m great, thanks for having me.

PEREZ: Absolutely. So, Mitch has a medical cannabis dispensary, is that right?

TRELLIS: That’s correct, the largest in the state.

PEREZ: The largest in the state.

TRELLIS: Yes, ma’am.

PEREZ: So how did you come about that? Because it’s in Maryland, and I’ve heard that it’s pretty hard to start one of these.

TRELLIS: It is very, very difficult. We actually won a merit-based application process against, I believe there were 900 applications for 103 dispensaries in the state of Maryland. And we came in second in Howard County District 13. They gave out two in District 13, and we received one of those two. There are 70 (dispensaries) open in the state of Maryland today. There’s probably another 32 or 33 to go. Maryland is now the most dense state for dispensaries in the country on a square mile basis. There are 70 dispensaries in the smallest space in America essentially. So it’s gotten very heated and very hectic. The state did about 97 and a half million dollars in medical cannabis sales in year one.

PEREZ: Wowzers. So how long have you been open?

TRELLIS: We have been open since December 21st.

PEREZ: You just opened.

TRELLIS: No, a year ago. It was our one year anniversary December 21st.

PEREZ: Gotcha. Okay. So what sparked this? What made you get into medical cannabis distribution?

TRELLIS: I’ve been passionate about cannabis myself since I was 21, 22 years old. I’ve been self-medicating with cannabis. And it’s funny, if you self medicated 20 years ago they called it getting high.

PEREZ: Indeed.

TRELLIS: You know what I mean? But today, it really is self-medicating. So I’ve always been passionate about cannabis, never a big drinker, never really into pharmaceuticals or narcotics or any of those things. Never was a big believer in Western medicine. I always found that cannabis tended to relieve a lot of symptoms that I might happen to have. As the world started to transition into this kind of realization that, perhaps it wasn’t the “devil’s lettuce” as they always led us to believe, I kind of as an entrepreneur — I’ve always been an entrepreneur — I’ve always been interested in starting businesses, I kind of kept my eye on it. And in 2014, I was living in New Jersey, and my best friend and today my business partner, he was working in Baltimore running the largest alternative heroin treatment center in Baltimore City. He treats thousands of heroin addicts a year with acupuncture…

PEREZ: Get out of here. Effectively?

TRELLIS: Effectively. Maryland wrote a very, very progressive law in 2014 that basically created one of the most liberal medical cannabis programs in the country. And immediately I was into it, and I called my partner and I said, we are gonna apply for a cannabis license. And he said “it’s a gateway drug” and hung up on me. But we started to talk, and he very quickly realized that it isn’t a gateway drug, that there are actually some very powerful statistics. And the one that got him was in medical cannabis states fatal opioid overdoses are 25% to 30% lower. In the state of Maryland, I believe, there were 700, which means medical cannabis is saving 150 to 170 lives. Literally. Once he realized that, he started to look at it in a different way. And his background is in health care, his background is in wellness. His family were the first people in America to teach acupuncture in 1974 in Columbia, Maryland. So his family is kind of wellness or alternative medicine royalty. So once he realized, came to the conclusion that maybe what I was saying had some merit. He went back to his father, and they started to dig in a little bit and they were pretty blown away. So we started to put together a team and it took a lot of work. The state wrote a great law but it took a long time to implement. So we started in 2014 and our application actually went in in 2016. It took two years. Then there was a six month waiting process. We applied for a grow, a processor, and a dispensary.

PEREZ: So does that mean you grow your own stuff here?

TRELLIS: So we were trying to grow our own cannabis in Maryland. Are you familiar with the processing?

PEREZ: No.

TRELLIS: So you know all the vape pens that you see everybody with? So that’s cannabis broken down into a chemical, a very high intensity product from the cannabis oil. That all occurs in a process. So there’s actually three legs of the business. There’s the grow, where you actually grow the cannabis, there’s the processor where you make it into different products, and there’s a dispensary where you sell the different products.

PEREZ: Gotcha. That makes sense.

TRELLIS: So the application process was for each vertical. We applied for all three verticals. We didn’t win the grow, we didn’t win the processor, which was, as you can imagine, very disappointing. We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, a few years of our lives, it was very emotionally…

PEREZ: Draining?

TRELLIS: Yes, without a doubt. Now they didn’t announce at that time the winners of the store permits…

PEREZ: You just thought your dreams had been dashed.

TRELLIS: Exactly. And a couple months later we found out we had won a dispensary in our hometown of Columbia, Maryland. It was really exciting. What’s interesting is a lot of people apply for dispensaries all over the state. We looked at it and we said, “This is where we’re from. This is our community. And we’re gonna apply in one place.” And we applied in one region out of 52 in the state, and we won in our region.

PEREZ: That’s a blessing.

TRELLIS: It is a blessing. And we own a store within 5 miles of our homes, within 5 miles of where all of our children go to school. This is our community. And in retrospect, people ask us why we’re so successful. And there’s a lot of reasons, but I do think one of them is that it is our community. Remedy has become a community, but it’s a community within a community where we were already comfortable, already familiar, and we have a level of respect. And I don’t know if you know about Columbia, but Columbia is a very unique place; it has a very unique history. And it’s grown into this incredible place, right, but at the end of the day it’s like you said, it’s just home. It’s nice to see people that we grew up with, and it’s nice to see children that we grew up with and their parents. We treat about 1700 patients a week. And most of them come from the Howard County area. We do have a decent number of people who tend to drive past other dispensaries to get to Remedy. We have a really interesting experience. All of our patient advisors are ASA certified. It’s called Americans for Safe Access. It’s basically patient advisor training, for lack of a better word. And one of the things about cannabis, is that,because it’s not federally legal, there’s no real standardization in the treatment. And there’s no real FDA-approved tests and so on. Therefore, we can’t really say that “this works this way.” What we can say is that “we find that this tends to work this way for certain patients.” So the ASA training, what it really does is instill a real knowledge in our patient advisors. And then our patient advisors are all patients themselves. They’re all very passionate about cannabis. So one of the things that we’ve established is this really comfortable community where our patient advisors are able to really make people comfortable and take people along the path in their journey. What cannabis tends to be is for people who have not found what it is they’re looking for in standard medicine. So it really does become a journey. It’s not people… You know, there are people in there getting high. But like I said earlier, when you’re getting high you’re probably self-medicating for something, and for every one person like that there’s three or four people who are like, I don’t want opioids anymore. I don’t want to do whatever it is I’m doing anymore.

PEREZ: So walk me through the process, I don’t have a medical card right. But I’m driving in Columbia and I see your store and I pull in your parking lot, and I’m like “Yes!” And I walk in the door, what happens?

TRELLIS: So you’re walking through Columbia and you see our store. Unfortunately, they do not have same-day patient registration. The process takes about a week or two. How it would work is we have a process, we have patient concierges, we would sign you up in the state system on the computer, which you can also do yourself. Pretty easy. We take a picture of you. One of the things that we’ve found with the state is that the picture tends to get rejected. So there’s a specific way to take the picture. We send it into the state. And anywhere from ten days to three or four weeks later, they come back to you with a patient number. At that point, you go to a doctor, a certified doctor. I believe there’s 3 or 4 hundred across the state of Maryland already. They write you a recommendation for cannabis. But one of the reasons that Maryland’s program is so liberal is that anyone can qualify for medical cannabis for anything a doctor feels it would be beneficial for.

PEREZ: That’s a really big umbrella.

TRELLIS: And what we actually find a lot is anxiety. And that is not one of the qualifying illnesses, but people do tend to use cannabis for it, to treat it, and it does tend to work. So some of the illnesses that we see a lot of are anxiety and depression.

PEREZ: So I come in, they make me wait a week and ten days to get my patient number, I go see my doctor, they give me a referral slip, or?

TRELLIS: They write you a recommendation, it’s like a prescription, but they’re not allowed to write a prescription because it’s federally illegal. And you bring it back to Remedy and you’re ready to be a patient.

PEREZ: When I do that, do I have to go back and see my doctor every month, or…?

TRELLIS: Once every year.

PEREZ: Oh, that’s not bad. So I get this recommendation, you inform me that I’m good to go, and I come back in. Tell me what I can find at Remedy. Is it snacks, or is it barrels of weed, or is it vape pens?

TRELLIS: All of that. In the state of Maryland, they have all products, they have vape pens, they have cartridges. They do not have edibles in the state of Maryland. They’re in the process of figuring out the rules around edibles. There are some FDA concerns about foods and so on. We do have some orally ingested products.

PEREZ: What’s that considered, like a lollipop or a lozenge?

TRELLIS: Exactly. Instead of gummies, we have troches, instead of sodas we have elixirs. At the end of the day, they’re orally ingested, and they have the exact same effect as edibles. Our orally ingested products tend to be on the less strong side.

PEREZ: Really?

TRELLIS: Yes, because the one risk in all medical cannabis is around edibles. The dosing in edibles is much harder to deal with.

PEREZ: And regulate.

TRELLIS: And regulate.  And the most adverse effects tend to be from edibles. And there’s a scientific reason why, I could go into it, but to make a long story short it just tends to make people… if people are going to have an adverse reaction, it comes from edibles.

PEREZ: I think that in general with edibles, people tend to overindulge. Ordinarily I would eat a whole cookie. I would eat a whole brownie.

TRELLIS: Maybe two.

PEREZ: But with edibles it’s like, you just need a little slab.

TRELLIS: And it takes 30-40 minutes, or for some people it might take an hour, for some people it might take two hours. So people go back and say, “let me have some more cookie”.

PEREZ: Or eat the whole thing. And then you have the worst experience in your life, and you never want to do it again.

TRELLIS: Right. I personally am not a big edible fan. And I just don’t like the way it makes me feel, but also I’ve had that experience myself a couple times. And if I were to smoke too much, the worst that happens is you fall asleep. But like you said, with an edible, there’s the opportunity for a slightly adverse reaction. But you’re not dying, you’re not blacking out and waking up in a place that you don’t know where you are. So what the processors have tended to do with these orally ingested medicines is to err on the side of caution, which, I as the provider, appreciate, and make smaller doses of orally ingested medicine.

PEREZ: So how can people get information about Remedy Columbia?

TRELLIS: So I was just going to finish really quick on the doctor’s appointment. The doctor’s appointment tends to cost between 150 and 225 dollars in the state. And one of the barriers to entry that we’ve found for patients is that’s a large amount of money for cannabis users. That’s half of an ounce. So one of the programs that we’ve created is a reimbursement program.

PEREZ: Which is what?

TRELLIS: Basically, if you bring your doctor’s referral with a receipt, we will give you back in product the cost of your doctor’s appointment up to 200 dollars over 5 visits. So what that equals is a 40 dollar credit, in product, every time you visit, up to 5 visits. And in our store, 40 dollars gets you an eighth of cannabis, high grade cannabis.

PEREZ: Now, is there a limit? I have all my paperwork, I’m ready, I’m in your system, can I just come in and buy out your store or is it regulated?

TRELLIS: Every patient in the state of Maryland has a 4 ounce per month limit. It’s a lot. As someone who medicates every day, I mean, I don’t use my 4 ounces. So it’s a lot. The people who do tend to use it are people making edibles at home. They break it down and make their own brownies. Those are the only people that I’ve come across who tend to do that. It’s a lot, 4 ounces of weed.

PEREZ: That’s a lot, I’m not mad about it though.

TRELLIS: The average person in the top 10% of usage smokes 1.6 grams per day. Which really works out to be, what, 45, 50 grams a month? And our limit is 120. So it’s fair, it’s more than fair. And for some people, your tolerance goes up as you medicate more.

PEREZ: Now how do you measure if it’s a vape pen, versus I want a little bud, I want a little vape pen, I want a little whatever?

TRELLIS: So they count, you can either have 120 grams of flower or 30 grams of THC. And what they measure is the percentage of THC in the gram that you bought of concentrate. The concentrates are very intense, they’re up to 90% of THC. So that would mean you could basically have a gram of concentrate that’s 90% THC. So they count even for THC or the flower.

PEREZ: Interesting.

TRELLIS: Yes, it’s a very fair program. I’ve never found myself lacking in medicine. And you know, they’re trying to make it so that people can medicate in a safe fashion. And at the same time, control diversion and make it so that people outside of the program do not have access to the medicine, because that makes sense, it’s a totally reasonable concern.

PEREZ: So if I go to a doctor and I get this card, but my job randomly drug tests me, that’s gotta be something you guys encounter, right? So the medical marijuana thing doesn’t give me a pass with my job?

TRELLIS: Exactly, right, not yet. So this is a conversation that’s being had in some more forward, more liberal states. About whether that recommendation or referral is protective, in the same way that if a doctor referred you to opioids,your employer wouldn’t theoretically fire you for taking those opioids? Right now, there are no protections.

PEREZ: So you’re on your own.

TRELLIS: You’re on your own. That being said, as corporate America becomes more comfortable with cannabis…

PEREZ: A lot of places are.

TRELLIS: There are a lot more, they don’t like to tell you, but they really are a lot more comfortable. Look, a lot of these places wouldn’t be able to hire anybody. And it’s also, look, society is going through this whole kind of…

PEREZ: Transition.

TRELLIS: Exactly, where we’re like maybe it isn’t as bad as everybody says it is. It’s even happening in corporations. Look, it really is a big medicine. I used to work on Wall Street, and the stereotype on Wall Street is cocaine. But in reality, what I often found is that a lot of people on Wall Street use cannabis. And the reason was it was just a relaxant, and the intensity level of millions of dollars and trading and all these things, these people tended to just needed to take it down a notch after the days.

PEREZ: Fantastic. Well I’ll have to visit Remedy Columbia once I get all my stuff in order. So tell everyone how they can get more information.

TRELLIS: You can call us at Remedy Columbia, 410-935-7729. You can visit the website at www.remedycolumbia.com. Or you can come down to Columbia and check us out, 6656 Daven Road, Suite E. We’re on social media, Remedy Columbia. We’ve actually gotten kicked off of Instagram six times. They’re very, very tough. So you might not find us on Instagram or on Facebook, it’s very hard to find us on Instagram, but we’re on Facebook, we’re on Twitter, we’re on all of those things. And again, come on down, look us up on the internet, and give us a call. We really want to help people become patients and we’re here to help people get started on their journey and transition along the way. It’s a pretty amazing journey.

PEREZ: I’m here for all of that. Thank you so much for joining us.

TRELLIS: Thank you for having us.

PEREZ: Thanks for being informative. And thank you guys for joining us for another edition of What’s Poppin the Podcast, only on 93.9 WKYS.

Could Cannabis for Alzheimer’s Be the Next Big Breakthrough?

Cannabis for Alzheimers

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, you know it’s one of the most challenging conditions anyone can experience. With only a few treatments available to address this disease, you might be wondering if cannabis could be an option. Let’s take a look at what the latest research has to say about cannabis for Alzheimer’s.

Cannabis for Alzheimers old man with caretaker

The Basics of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Diseases (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive symptoms like memory loss, dementia, emotional struggles, speech issues, and more. It develops when destructive amyloid plaques and tangles start to build up in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus. This part of the brain is responsible for memory. As nerve cells die, connections are lost, and it becomes hard for the patient to remember events, reason, and even recognize people they know.

Unfortunately, there limited treatments that exist for AD. Therapies that are currently available only address the symptoms, not the progression of the disease itself. As the search for new therapies continues, there has been a development in the interest of cannabis-based treatments. The good news is researchers are hard at work to advance our understanding of how medical cannabis could play a role in the future of AD treatment.

Cannabis for Alzheimers family

Cannabis for Alzheimer’s

Researchers think that cannabis can interact with the brain in a way that provides AD symptom relief, as well as neuroprotection to fight disease progression. While there have only been a few studies so far on how cannabis might help AD patients, the findings look promising:

  • A 2018 study published by the Society for Neuroscience looked at mice with AD. It concluded that the mice treated with THC experienced improvements in memory and reduced neuronal loss.
  • In a study conducted in 2016, Israeli researchers administered cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients. The researchers observed a significant decrease in dementia symptoms. They concluded that cannabis was a safe and promising option for treating AD symptoms.
  • A 2016 Salk Institute study found that THC worked to reverse harmful amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. They also found that THC reduced the inflammation that leads to brain cell damage.
  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease looked at how THC can reduce amyloid plaque buildup and found promising results. They reported that their data strongly supports THC as a potential treatment option for fighting AD through several pathways.

The Bottom line?

While these findings are exciting, memory and dementia symptoms are not the only way cannabis can help AD patients. As the diseases progress, many patients experience depression, agitation, and anxiety. Cannabis has been proven to improve mood and ease depression and anxiety and can be used to enhance the quality of life for those suffering from AD.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is not yet a Maryland medical cannabis qualifying condition. If you think it should be, please write your legislators!

Cannabis for Alzheimers young care taker hugging woman

Would you like to know more about medical cannabis? We’d love to help. Schedule an appointment and we can help you become a registered Medical Cannabis Patient in Maryland.