ASA Condition-based Booklets

These booklets summarize the history of medical cannabis and the recent research on using it to treat a variety of conditions, including Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Arthritis, Gastro-Intestinal Disorders, Movement Disorders, HIV/AIDS, and conditions related to Aging.


In This Section

Arthritis

The importance of cannabinoids in bone health has been established in transgenic mice that are missing either the CB1 or CB2 receptor. These mice develop osteoporosis much more quickly than normal or wild mice. Research has recently shown that mice missing both cannabinoid receptors have extremely weak bones, a condition that underlies osteoporosis and osteoarthritis pathology.

Cancer

Cannabis has been found to help cancer patients with the symptoms that usually accompany cancer such as pain, nausea, wasting, and loss of appetite.[12] Notably, in a meta-analysis of 30 clinical studies on the therapeutic use of cannabis for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Delta9-THC (dronabinol AKA marinol) proved superior to modern anti-emetics.[13] Additionally, patients showed a clear preference for cannabinoids as anti-emetic medication over conventional drugs, when receiving chemotherapy.

Chronic Pain

Cannabis can serve at least two important roles in safe, effective pain management. It can provide relief from the pain itself (either alone or in combination with other analgesics), and it can control the nausea associated with taking opioid drugs, as well as the nausea, vomiting and dizziness that often accompany severe, prolonged pain.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

The effectiveness of cannabis and its derivatives for treating gastrointestinal disorders has been known for centuries. Recently, its value as an anti-emetic and analgesic has been proven in numerous studies and has been acknowledged by several comprehensive, government-sponsored reviews, including those conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the U.K. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, the Australian National Task Force on Cannabis, and others.

HIV/AIDS

The effectiveness of cannabis for treating symptoms related to HIV/AIDS is widely recognized. Its value as an anti-emetic and analgesic has been proven in numerous studies and has been recognized by several comprehensive, government-sponsored reviews, including those conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the U.K. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, the Australian National Task Force on Cannabis, and others.

Movement Disorders

The therapeutic use of cannabis for treating muscle problems and movement disorders has been known to western medicine for nearly two centuries. In reference to the plant's muscle relaxant and anti-convulsant properties, in 1839 Dr. William B. O'Shaughnessy wrote that doctors had "gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value."[12] In 1890 Dr. J. Russell Reynolds, physician to Queen Victoria, noted in an article in The Lancet that for "organic disease of a gross character in the nervous centers . . . India hemp (cannabis) is the most useful agent with which I am acquainted."[13]

Multiple Sclerosis

An estimated 350,000 people in the United States are living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating and sometimes fatal disorder of the central nervous system. MS is the most common debilitating neurological disease of young people, often appearing between the ages of 20 and 40, affecting more women than men. Current treatment of MS is primarily symptomatic, focusing on such problems as spasticity, pain, fatigue, bladder problems and depression.

Aging

The immuno-modulatory properties of a group of fats found in cannabis, known as sterols and sterolins, have been used as natural alternatives to conventional rheumatoid arthritis treatments that employ highly toxic drugs to either suppress the entire immune response of the body or to palliate pain and the inflammatory process without correcting the underlying immune dysfunction.