Brishna Kamal and Daniel Lantel are quite confident that cannabis has an undisclosed, unprecedented power to treat people suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – and believe that their recent study has helped prove it.
The Vhistler Therapeutics study, published in Frontiers of Neuroscience in October, considered the correlation between different chemotipes of cannabis – chemical compounds and a combination of compounds found in various types of cannabis – and their efficacy when it comes to treating symptoms of anxiety. The researchers managed to identify the voltages that helped reduce symptoms, and others that had the opposite effect.
"For a patient experiencing a reduced quality of life-from insomnia and irritability to muscle tension-due to this condition, it's a great thing that they can go around without being disturbed," says Lantela, co-founder and director of drug development for Vhistler Therapeutics, a research company for biopharmaceutical and cannabis based in Whistler, BC
The company cooperates with university, clinic and cannabis manufacturers to determine which cannabis extracts function best in different conditions. With this information, the company is able to formulate various products that can then be made through chemical processes.
"We got into that because we believe in medical cannabis," says Kamal, president and co-founder of the company.
"Personalized healthcare appears rapidly, and cannabis is one of the factors for the unification. What's up to now is finding out which tension works best for which condition in which patient," she says.
GAD can affect one in three in Canada
Kamal and Lantela decided to focus on a study especially on GAD because of their prevalence in Canadian society, and how often cannabis is used as a treatment. As anxiety disorders, GAD is one of the most common studies found to affect three Canadian populations any year.
People with GAD suffer persistently, often damaging, anxiety about everything that can be wrong; their days are marked by scenarios that they have and if they all have negative outcomes, including fear of losing work, earning money or serious illness. This enormous anxiety can affect their work, their relationships and their ability to deal with the obstacles of everyday life.
It is considered that a study with GAD patients is one of the first Kamala that is not known in any other published research, especially regarding the content of terpenes in different species – to look closely at the different types and medical benefits that it can offer. It is a relatively new field of research, she notes. "Most studies focus on THC and CBD, but do not get so much into terpenes," she says.
Terpenes are oils that are responsible for flavors and aromas of cannabis plants. There are more than 100, and many offer different therapeutic effects, from alleviating chronic pain to offering treatment options in migraine patients. Kamal's opinion is that scientists are just starting to understand the health benefits they can give.
Most respondents use cannabis for the treatment of anxiety
For their study, Kamal and Lantela used data from a survey of 90 examinees that included 442 residents who lived in Canada and were patients of the Vhistler Medical Marijuana Corporation [WMMC], a certified organic cannabis producer. The survey was conducted by VMMC, together with the results of an analytical test of organically grown cannabis sold by the respondents.
After receiving medical cannabis from the VMMC, through e-mail, each patient was sent a research connection, while samples from 21 different series of dried cannabis – containing three production diaries of seven different species – were analyzed to identify cannabinoids and terpenes in each soy.
Participants selected between 27 species and mixtures of oil, a rating on a scale of 0 to 10, for those who considered it the best or the least effective to treat their anxiety. This is followed by an assessment of the degree of effectiveness of cannabis in general to manage their anxiety on Likert Scale, which offers a range of response options of 10.
Overall, about 60 percent of respondents reported using cannabis for treating symptoms of anxiety, while 15 percent said they had been diagnosed with a certain anxiety disorder.
Lantela says one of the most important discoveries was field correlation and load selection. It was also noted that all respondents evaluated cannabis as highly effective in treating their anxiety symptoms, and also identified which loads were found to be the smallest or least effective in their entirety.
Respondents did not generally want any fear, and the conclusion Kamal says may indicate that treatment of cannabis is highly individual, because people react differently to different species.
"Patients should be given the opportunity to choose between different types of treatments for their GAD symptoms until they find a tension that works well to manage their symptoms," she says.
"We provide doctors and patients with more information in order to make better informed decisions about treatment," Lantela noted. "Patients may even find the need to switch between different varieties – they can be moved back and forth, so they do not build tolerance and can keep their dose lower. Construction of this research will help make this possible," he adds.
The research is progressing
Then, Kamal and Lantela want to isolate shadows of cannabis that could be associated with symptoms of anxiety (15 percent of respondents reported that anxiety is an unwanted effect of cannabis treatment). They would also like to conclude the findings of the study at the next level of research.
"At this point, these are only correlations that show two variables (patient preferences and terpene or cannabine content) follow a similar pattern," says Kamal. The next step, she says, is the demand of the causative agent in molecular studies and models, followed by clinical studies.
Although Kamal and Lantela are seeking clinical partners, it is expected that they will learn more about cannabinoids and their effectiveness for different conditions for several years, all of which depend on funding, collaborators and innovations in the cannabis industry itself.
Kamal does not see the ultimate perspective of research opportunities and reports that their focus will be on creating new, innovative formulations and delivery methods that will allow them to collect more specific data in a clinical setting.
"We will always learn more and determine which products are more or less effective for a variety of conditions, including anxiety," she says. In the long run, Kamal and Lantela are planning to initially submit a drug for multiple conditions, including chronic pain, metastatic cancer, osteoarthritis i anxiety.
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