MEDICAL PLANTS, CURE AND DEATH Why are medics using cannabis for depression?
The new science of cannabis medicine and its impact on patients has been studied extensively and the evidence for its use is growing, according to a study by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) and the University of Sydney.
The study, published in the Australian Journal of Psychiatry, found that more than half of the 1,000 participants who received cannabis for mood disorders had a depression diagnosis.
“The majority of patients were taking at least one of three prescription drugs, including benzodiazepines and antidepressants, as well as other medications such as antidepressants and antipsychotics,” Professor Dr David J. Schumann, who led the research, told news.com.au.
“Most patients were able to stop taking medication at some point and report a significant improvement in their symptoms.”
Researchers also found that depression sufferers who took cannabis showed an improvement in the ability to feel happy, have fewer symptoms of depression and fewer side effects than those who did not.
“Our results indicate that cannabis treatment has some positive benefits for patients with depression and that it may be an effective treatment for patients who have had a diagnosis of depression, but have not responded to other medications or therapy,” Professor Schumann said.
“This may help prevent a return to depression, and may also help patients to feel better, as they are able to access other types of cannabis treatments.”
The researchers also looked at the effectiveness of a trial of cannabis for chronic pain, which found that people who had used cannabis for more than 10 months had significantly fewer opioid-related deaths than people who did the same amount of time using other types, including opioids.
The research was led by Professor Janae Breen, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at RACP.
“We wanted to see if cannabis could be used as an alternative to opioid therapy, especially in patients who are struggling with chronic pain,” she said.
“It could also be a new type of treatment for the pain of depression that may be more effective than other therapies currently available.”
The study found that there were two main areas of potential benefit for cannabis for treating depression.
First, the study found the cannabis treatment helped reduce symptoms of chronic pain.
“There was a significant reduction in symptoms of pain in those who took CBD-rich cannabis, compared with those who used the placebo, and this was associated with significantly fewer adverse events,” Professor Breen said.”[This] may be because cannabinoids may have a higher affinity for opioids than opioids do for cannabinoids.”
“It also reduced the amount of opioids used, so it reduces the risk of overdose.”
And the benefits of CBD-based treatments for depression have been reported in other studies in the literature, including in one of the most widely studied depression trials to date, which was conducted in Australia,” Professor Jain said.
The second area of potential advantage for the treatment was in the treatment of people with chronic conditions such as asthma, which often cause inflammation in the brain.”
Some studies have shown that cannabis may have beneficial effects in people with asthma, as it may slow the progression of the condition,” Professor Sussan Bhattacharya, from the RACA’s Division of Health, said.
Professor Breen added that the study also looked into whether CBD could improve depression symptoms in people who were already taking other treatments for the condition.”
These findings suggest that CBD could be a potential new treatment option for people who are already using other medications for depression and who are also suffering from chronic pain.””
But in addition to that, it may also be useful in treating people who have previously had a depressive disorder and who have been diagnosed with depression but have also had symptoms of anxiety or panic disorder.””
So, this study may provide a new direction for research into the possible use of cannabinoids in the management of depression,” Professor Rains said.
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