Cannabis, variously known as grass, weed, or pot has had a lot of bad publicity over the years, but recently the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has admitted that the use of the marijuana plant extract may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. This information comes from animal studies using the extract from whole-plant marijuana on mice, which show that this when used along with radiation the extract increases the killing effect of radiation on one of the most serious types of brain cancer.

How CANNABISAt this point of time, however the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize this drug as a medicine. What the FDA does recognize are two drugs which containCannabinoids – various chemicals found in cannabis. There are about a hundred of them. The two that are of interest in medicinal use are THC and CBD.

CBD does not affect the mind or behavior as such, but it is believed to be of effect in pain reduction, epileptic seizures, and perhaps in the treatment of mental illnesses.

THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea and also pain, inflammation and problems with muscle control. It is currently in use in the UK in the prescription drug Sativex, which is licensed for use on multiple sclerosispatients.

Pre-clinical and clinical studies on the effects of marijuana on:

• Auto-immune diseases
• Inflammation
• Pain
• Seizures
• Mental disorders
• Substance abuse

The NIDA report comes at the same time as a group of senators are pushing the Federal Government to recognize the medicinal value of marijuana. In March the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act was introduced. It proposed that cannabis be moved from a schedule I act to a schedule II drug, thus acknowledging that is had some medicinal value. The act does not in itself legalize cannabis in any state, but it allows any state to set their own policies regarding the legalizing its use in any and all forms. Many states have already started legalizing the use of marijuana in some form or the other.

So, a substance which has acquired a bad reputation over the years is turning out to be of beneficial use after all.

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