Cannabis in medicine - chance or illusion?
It is one of the longest and most intense debates on the subject: The use of cannabis in medicine. In Austria this question was discussed several times last year from a variety of perspectives. The main reason for this is the psychoactive substance dronabinol (THC), which is contained in the hemp plant. The modes of action of THC are diverse, which in turn means that it is interesting for a broad spectrum of medical questions.
First of all dronabinol has an appetizing effect. It also suppresses vomiting and nausea. These properties offer great potential for cancer or HIV patients, as chemotherapy is accompanied by loss of appetite. It also has a pain-relieving effect on chronic problems.
In multiple sclerosis or other incurable neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease, dronabinol helps with its muscle relaxant effect. In addition to the diseases already mentioned, cannabis is also prescribed for sleep disorders. As part of the treatment of mental illnesses, dronabinol offers potential as a remedy for depression or anxiety disorders, as it has a mood-lifting effect.
The greatest advantage over conventional pharmacological drugs is the lack of side effects. While conventional, light painkillers from school medicine can have side effects ranging from nausea over kidney dysfunction to stomach ulcers, the effects of cannabis are much less severe. Side effects of dronabinol include decreased attention or dry mouth. Caution is advised for patients with psychological issues, as THC can cause psychological problems at high, non-therapeutic doses.
The second medically relevant active ingredient of cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD). In contrast to THC, this substance has little or no psychoactivity. Research here is in its early stages, mainly because meaningful studies on humans are currently still in short supply. In cases of animal studies, however, it has already been established that CBD fights tumour formation and prevents the development of metastases. Should future research in human medicine confirm these findings, this would be a groundbreaking development.
According to current knowledge, cannabidiol also has antibacterial, antiviral and antiepileptic effects. CBD also has a modulating effect on the immune system and against the onset of diabetes mellitus. Since CBD, in contrast to THC, has no intoxicating effect, it can be acquired normally in Austria. It is important to ensure that the proportion of THC does not exceed 0.3 percent, as otherwise one would be outside the legal framework.
One important development to note is that cannabis was named medicinal plant of the year in Austria in 2018. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go before the potential of the ingredients described above is fully recognised and, above all, the decriminalisation of pain patients begins.
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More about hemp in medicine at HANFEXPO 2019!