Humans are curious creatures. In ancient times it must’ve taken some incredibly curious individuals to investigate and ingest cannabis for the first time. It also would have taken courage to come to their communities and share some of the bizarre and interesting feelings they experienced from the plant.
Even today, despite amazing progress in the de-stigmatisation of cannabis, I still think it takes courage to share information about this plant and its medicinal benefits. So in the spirit of courage and curiosity, let’s explore some of the ways medical cannabis is being investigated to treat some bizarre, interesting and rare diseases.
Cannabinoids are being investigated for their impact on dental plaque and oral bacterial colonies. Observations have shown toothpaste containing lesser-known cannabinoids CBC and CBN were more effective than standard toothpaste at controlling bacteria in the mouth.
This study evaluated bacteria from a range of individuals including those with normal gums and those with advanced dental conditions. Across the board, cannabinoid toothpastes were shown to be more effective than some well-established standard products in reducing the bacterial colony count in dental plaques.
Having this kind of preliminary data bodes well for future research, and we’ll see if in the future you’ll be able to buy cannabinoid-based toothpastes to alleviate your inflamed gums from supermarket shelves!
Another set of conditions where medical cannabis is being examined relates to myofascial or temporomandibular disorders (TMD). These conditions are well known in the medical community to be incredibly debilitating and notoriously difficult to treat, causing headaches and extreme pain in the muscles or joints of the face.
A double-blind randomised controlled trial on TMD published last year showed a 70% decrease in clinically measured pain intensity after a two week topical CBD treatment. Additionally, muscle activity showed a significant reduction in the CBD group when compared with the controls.
This promising research is being followed up with investigations on other cannabis formulations. TMD is a relatively rare condition and so it might not sound like big news, yet for those who suffer from this, the research could be welcome.
Hidradenitis suppurativa, this skin condition is just as painful to say, as it is to live with. Anecdotal success stories abound for this disorder, however, there has yet to be any clinical research to support patient stories.
Hidradenitis suppurativa causes lumps under the skin, which can progress to painful boils and open lesions. They occur in particularly sensitive areas throughout the body, and while there is no formal research to support this treatment, some sufferers have found success with topical applications of CBD, as well as other ingested formulations.
Research is planned in Israel to assess whether 1:20 THC:CBD oil will attempt to assess safety, efficacy and impact on pain scores over a 12-week trial.
In most of our cells, there are tiny little capsules called mitochondria – universally known as the powerhouses and energy generators for the body. For individuals with rare Mitochondria Disorders, chronic pain, seizures and muscle weakness are common.
Medical cannabis is well documented as having anti-seizure effects. Many patients with Mitochondrial Disorders have reported decreases in seizures and pain when taking appropriate medical cannabis formulations.
Research on how cannabinoids affect this specific condition is yet to be realised. However, with what we know about medical cannabis treating pain and seizures, it may be an option for patients who have exhausted all other avenues.
These four conditions offer a small glimpse into how the research community is widening the breadth of medical cannabis research. Everything from skin and neurodegenerative diseases, all the way to treating symptoms of profound genetic disorders is within the scope of the medical cannabis lense, we merely have to be curious enough to investigate.