The Medical Minute: Cannabis May Prevent Stroke and Kidney Disease But Impair Some Sensory PerceptionBailey RahnMay 27, 2014
In a monumental demonstration of progress, the U.S. government increased the amount of cannabis that can be used for research from 21 kg to 650 kg earlier this month. The slippery slope to liberating its research is already underway, and with so much education now replacing outdated Drug War propaganda, it’s unlikely that prohibition will ever recover its stranglehold on this remarkable plant. This Medical Minute covers just a few recent developments in cannabis research, and we’re excited to see where future findings will take us next.
1. Cannabis May Lower the Risk of Stroke
Good news for medical marijuana patients and activists arrived earlier this month as more evidence supporting cannabis’ benefits in preventing stroke was presented at this year’s American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting. Using data gathered over 16 years, researchers from the University of Maryland found that cannabis consumers statistically suffered less strokes, but researchers were still hesitant to call marijuana’s effects protective. “We will go back and look at our data more carefully and do some additional analyses to see if we can look for potential confounders,” the study’s lead researcher said. Despite their hesitation to embrace the implications of these findings, it’s safe to say that the public presentation of this evidence can only be good for medical marijuana’s reputation.
2. Cannabinoid Deficiency Linked to Kidney Disease
Several studies have already demonstrated the importance of the recently discovered endocannabinoid system. We know that we have a network of natural cannabis-like compounds that bind to the same receptors as cannabinoids like THC and CBD, resulting in a variety of therapeutic effects. Now research is telling us that cannabinoid therapy could hold promise for cannabinoid-deficient kidneys experiencing a disease known as diabetic nephropathy. By activating these receptors using compatible cannabinoids such as CBD, it may be possible to slow the disease’s progression.
3. THC May Impair Your Sense of Smell
In a list of important cannabis-related discoveries, marijuana’s subtle effects on our sense of smell would probably fall pretty close to the bottom. Nevertheless, recreational consumers may be curious about how THC changes our sensory experiences, especially as we notice certain perceptions heighten. According to a small German study, however, our sense of smell and odor discrimination may be detectably compromised; strangely, THC has also been found to stimulate olfactory bulbs in animal models, so clearly there’s more work to be done in understanding THC and its influence over sensory perception.