Cannabis more specifically Medical Marijuana has proven to be effective for many medical conditions. Doctors have suggested a woman with chronic itch try cannabis to get rid of it. When no treatments provided a permanent solution, cannabis worked like a miracle. Who would have thought?
Itch That Does Not Go Away!
A woman tried different treatments from steroids to opioids to get rid of her chronic itch symptoms but nothing seemed to work. According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Dermatology, the woman was dealing with chronic itch symptoms which were medically known as Chronic Pruritus for a decade.
According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2013, chronic pruritus is defined as when itching persists for more than six weeks and the symptoms could be associated with diseases including eczema, hyperthyroidism, and even nerve disorders. The woman had pruritus from a disease of the bile ducts of the liver called primary sclerosing cholangitis, in an article by Live Science.
There have been theories revolving around the disease on how it leads to itchiness and then the condition disrupts into normal production of bile which can lead to irritating chemicals under the skin which sounds awful. This was reported in the ‘Itch: Mechanisms and Treatment’ article in 2014.
The woman developed lichen amyloidosis because of her bile duct condition. Dark, itchy bumps appeared on her skin and meld together into thick plaques which were worrisome. The plaques were on her trunk and limbs and she was dealing with extreme itchiness which continued. The woman’s sclerosing cholangitis was under control with medicine and remained stable. The itchiness continued to get worse and worse.
Shoo The Itch By Smoking Weed?
The doctors prescribed a list of treatments they thought could combat the itching but none seemed to work. They tried topical and oral corticosteroids which is an opioid nasal spray, naltrexone, that works against the effects of the opioids, and phototherapy which involves when exposed to affected skin to ultraviolet light. None of these treatments proved to be successful.
There was a ray of sunshine to all this- medical cannabis. There have been studies that indicated that topical and synthetic cannabinoid treatments can prove relief from itchiness according to the report in JAMA. In a review in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, it is has been noted that laboratory studies in animals and cells have hinted at the possibility that drugs dial down the itchy sensations which are amusing.
The doctors suggested that she should use cannabis two nights a week either in the form of smoking medical marijuana with 18% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis or she can take cannabis in a tincture form by placing a liquid extract under her tongue, according to Live Science.
The doctors wrote in a JAMA report that within 10 minutes after the initial administration, her Worst Itch Numeric Rating Scale (WI-NRS) score improved from 10 of 10 to 4 of 10. On the scale, 0 is considered to be no itch and 10 to be the worst imaginable itch so there had been proven to be vast improvement after using cannabis.
Is Smoking Cannabis Effective In The Long Run?
The doctors had followed up with the woman after five months of the treatment and then after a year, she consistently rated her treatment to be effective as her rating reduced to 4 of 10 from 10 to 10. She slowly started to improve and after the 16-month and 20-month follow-ups, her itchiness rating fell to 0 to 10 which was a massive improvement.
The doctors mentioned in the report that aside from mild sedation, she reported no adverse effects. In addition to this, she reported an improvement in quality of life based on her scoring system called the Dermatology Life Quality Index. She quit taking her other prescribed medications. A lot of theories raised the question of how cannabis reduced the woman’s itching.
One of them included that THC binds to various receptors in the endocannabinoid system which increases the activity of some while decreasing others. When CB1 receptors are activated in the spinal cord and brain, both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in nerves elsewhere in the body have been associated with increased pain thresholds, lower nerve cell activation, and decreased inflammation. They had written that in addition to this, a receptor called TRPV1 triggers the sensation of itch and cannabinoids lock the receptor into a closed position which blocks the itch signals.
The doctors wrote that even one patient benefited from the use of cannabis with minimal side effects, the risks and benefits of the treatment need to be assessed on a larger scale especially in its various routes of administration. Cannabinoid use has been linked with cognitive impairment, loss of motor skills, and it has been said when we smoke, it could lead to chronic bronchitis symptoms.
The results of the study were promising in the case of the woman but there are clinical trials that are needed to confirm the results. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology report, the doctors addressed that researchers have called for such trials in the past to evaluate the benefits of cannabis for chronic itch and to standardize the dosage and course of treatment. There are still questions yet to be addressed about the side effects of the treatment but medical cannabis is proving to be a different change to deal with medical treatments. Smoke with risk!