Marijuana legalization could help offset opioid epidemic, studies find

(CNN)Experts have proposed using medical marijuana to help Americans struggling with opioid addiction. Now, two studies suggest that there is merit to that strategy.

The studies, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, compared opioid prescription patterns in states that have enacted medical cannabis laws with those that have not. One of the studies looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D between 2010 and 2015, while the other looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid between 2011 and 2016.
The researchers found that states that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year under Medicare Part D, compared with those states without medical cannabis laws. Opioid prescriptions under Medicaid also dropped by 5.88% in states with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws, according to the studies.
“This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications,” said David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the Medicare study.
“And for pain patients in particular, our work adds to the argument that cannabis can be effective.”
Medicare Part D, the optional prescription drug benefit plan for those enrolled in Medicare, covers more than 42 million Americans, including those 65 or older. Medicaid provides health coverage to more than 73 million low-income individuals in the US, according to the program’s website.
“Medicare and Medicaid publishes this data, and we’re free to use it, and anyone who’s interested can download the data,” Bradford said. “But that means that we don’t know what’s going on with the privately insured and the uninsured population, and for that, I’m afraid the data sets are proprietary and expensive.”

‘This crisis is very real’

The new research comes as the United States remains entangled in the worst opioid epidemic the world has ever seen. Opioid overdose has risen dramatically over the past 15 years and has been implicated in over 500,000 deaths since 2000 — more than the number of Americans killed in World War II.
“As somebody who treats patients with opioid use disorders, this crisis is

Arizona Legislature Ready to Approve Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Opioid Abuse

Medical marijuana will soon be recommended as a treatment for opioid addiction if a Republican-sponsored bill quietly progressing through the Arizona Legislature is successful. House Bill 2064, introduced by Representative Vince Leach, was originally intended only to ban dispensaries from selling edibles in packaging that could be appealing to children. But a little-noticed amendment to the…

Study: Marijuana Decriminalization Leads To Decreased Arrests, No Increase In Youth Use

St. Louis, MO: State laws reducing minor marijuana possession offenses from criminal to civil violations (aka decriminalization) are associated with dramatic reductions in drug-related arrests, and are not linked to any uptick in youth cannabis use, according to data published by researchers affiliated with Washington University and the National Bureau of Economic Research. Investigators examined the impact of…

13 Surprising Benefits Of Lavender Essential Oil

The health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, disinfect the scalp and skin, enhance blood circulation, and treat respiratory problems. The Latin name of lavender is Lavare, which means “to wash”, due to its particularly pleasant aroma.

lavenderoil

About Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is extracted mostly from the flowers of the lavender plant, primarily through steam distillation. The flowers of lavender are fragrant in nature and have been used for making potpourri for centuries. Traditionally, lavender essential oil has also been used in making perfumes. The oil is very useful in aromatherapy and many aromatic preparations and combinations.

Lavender oil blends well with many other essential oils including cedarwood, pine, clary sagegeranium, and nutmeg. Today, lavender essential oil is frequently used in various forms including as an aromatherapy oil, in gels, infusions, lotions, and soaps.

Health Benefits Of Lavender Essential Oil

The various health benefits of lavender essential oil include the following:

Bug Repellent

The smell of lavender essential oil is potent for many types of bugs like mosquitoes, midges, and moths. Apply some lavender oil on the exposed skin when outside to prevent these irritating bites. Furthermore, if you do happen to be bitten by one of those bugs, lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce the irritation and the pain associated with bug bites.

Induces Sleep

Lavender essential oil induces sleep and is thus used as an alternative treatment for insomnia. Frequent studies on elderly patients have shown an increase in their sleep regularity when their normal sleep medication is replaced with some lavender essential oil being placed on their pillows. It has a relaxing impact on people; thereby, it often replaces modern medicines for sleep issues.

Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Lavender essential oil has a calming scent which makes it an excellent tonic for the nerves and anxiety issues. Therefore, it can also be helpful in treating migrainesheadachesdepression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma removes nervous exhaustion and restlessness while also increasing mental activity. It has a well-researched impact on the autonomic nervous system, which is why it is frequently used as a treatment for insomnia and also as a way to regulate heart-rate variability. One study showed that people taking tests showed a significant decrease in mental stress and anxiety, as well as increased cognitive function when they inhaled lavender oil and rosemary oil before taking the test.

LavenderessentialoilTreats Acne

According to dermatologists and aromatherapists, lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial oils in the treatment of acne, which is a very uncomfortable and embarrassing condition that primarily affects young people as they move through puberty, but can also afflict adults. It is characterized by red, raised sores on the face and body that develop due to a bacterial infection near the sebum gland. When sebum cannot be properly secreted from the sebum glands on the face, it begins to build up, particularly because puberty stimulates extra sebum and bacteria feed off of it, creating a vicious cycle of irritation, infection, and visible sores that can result in serious scarring.

Lavender essential oil inhibits the bacteria that cause the initial infection, helps to regulate some of the over-excretion of sebum by hormonal manipulation and can reduce the signs of scarring after the acne has begun to heal. Adding a small amount of lavender essential oil to other skin creams or ointments can greatly increase the potential for relief and healing.

Relieves Pain

Lavender essential oil is known as an excellent remedy for various types of

Top 8 Benefits Of Bay Leaves

The most impressive health benefits of bay leaves include their ability to detoxify the body and protect it from bacterial infections, slow the aging process, speed wound healing, manage diabetes, improve hearthealth, reduce inflammation, alleviate respiratory issues, optimize digestion, and prevent certain types of cancer. What Are Bay Leaves? There are many types of plants whose leaves are referred to as…

Marijuana for Anxiety

Anxiety and Marijuana: CBD, THC, CBD-A All You Need To Know About Weeds Effects on Mental Health  Medical Marijuana Can Treat Anxiety With a global increase of medical marijuana use to treat health conditions, advocates and studies are showing that medical marijuana can be used to treat anxiety disorders. Advocates believe that the chemical makeup…

Marijuana Treatment Reduces Severe Epileptic Seizures

A rigorous study validates a cannabis-derived treatment for a rare, drug-resistant childhood epilepsy Credit: bdspn Getty Images   Medical researchers have confirmed what some desperate parents have been claiming for years—that a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce epileptic seizures in some children. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the findings stem from…

Food Is Medicine: The Diet of Medicinal Foods, Science & History

Food is medicine - Dr. Axe
Hippocrates was to thank for the famous quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — which we translated to “food is medicine” and use as our motto. Still to this day medical doctors and historians consider Hippocrates to be the founder of medicine as a “rational science.”

Considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine and healing, Hippocrates was ahead of his time when, around the year 400 B.C, he advised people to prevent and treat diseases first and foremost by eating a nutrient-dense diet.

Why is a calorie not just a calorie when it comes to your health, and how come it matters so much which types of foods you get your calories from?Foods provide us with energy (calories), but they do much more than that.

The foods you include in your diet also play a critical role in controlling inflammation levels, balancing blood sugar, regulating cardiovascular health (including blood pressure and cholesterol levels), helping the digestive organs to process and eliminate waste, and much, much more. Did you know that certain anti-inflammatory foods even contain powerful active ingredients that help control how your genes are expressed?

Hippocrates and the Ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones onto something when they studied the many medicinal properties of foods. Many traditional systems of healing which have been practiced throughout history — including Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example — have taught for thousands of years that food is medicine and a healthy diet is a powerful tool for protecting one’s health.

Below you’ll learn which medicinal foods we now know make the biggest impact in someone’s health overall, which foods you should avoid most, and how to get started today eating a healing diet.


How Food Works Like Medicine

Perhaps more than anything else in our lives, the foods we regularly eat help determine whether or not we will become ill, or remain healthy into older age. Whether vegetables, fruit, meat, oils or grains, foods contain influential substances including antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fiber and much more.

Nutrient deficiencies and toxicity from a poor diet are linked to nearly all modern health conditions. John Hopkins University reports that some 80 percent of cancer patients are believed to be malnourished, and that treatments used to battle cancer (like chemotherapy) only increase the body’s need for nutrients and very high-quality foods even more. (1) You probably already know that diabetes and heart disease (currently the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and most industrialized nations) are also illnesses that are highly influenced by one’s diet — and the same can be said for allergies, autoimmune disorders like arthritis, thyroid disorders and many more.

The expanding field of Nutrigenomics (also called Nutritional Genomics) is devoted to studying how food influences gene expressions and contributes to either health and longevity or to disease and earlier death. The principles behind nutrigenomics can be summarized in several key points: genes play a role in disease development and prevention; a poor diet can be a serious risk factor for many diseases; nutrient deficiencies and toxic chemicals in low-quality foods have an effect on human gene expressions; each person is different in terms of how much their genes/health are impacted by their diet; and a healthy but also personalized diet can be used to prevent, mitigate or cure chronic diseases. (2)

Some of the ways that medicinal foods specifically act like natural protectors against disease and help to slow the effects of aging, include:

  • Decreasing & Controlling Inflammation – Inflammation is the root of most diseases and a major contributor to the effects of aging. Inflammation is a response from the immune system when the body perceives it’s being threatened, and it can affect nearly every tissue, hormone and cell in the body. Research also shows that “obesity has a strong inflammatory component,” a problem that now affects nearly two-thirds of all adults in the U.S. (3)
  • Balancing Hormones − Hormones affect every part of health, from your energy and cognitive abilities to your body weight and sex drive. Abnormal hormonal changes contribute to accelerated aging, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, depression, low mental capacity, reproductive problems and an array of autoimmune diseases. (4)
  • Alkalizing the Body – The human body keeps a tight grip on its internal pH level, working hard to keep it around a pH of 7.36. Studies show that when it comes to the pH and net acid load in the human diet, “there has been considerable change from the hunter-gather civilization to the present.” (5) Processed, low-quality foods make the body more acidic and allow diseases to thrive more easily. An alkaline diet (high in plant foods that are detoxifying) helps with cellular renewal and might promote longevity.
  • Balancing Blood Glucose (Sugar) – Diabetes and weight gain are tied to poor insulin response and other hormonal changes. Poorly managed blood sugar levels due to consuming high amounts of sugar and processed carbohydrates can lead to cravings, fatigue, neurological damage, mood disorders, hormonal balances and more. To sustain normal blood sugar, experts recommend that low-glycemic and non-processed carbohydrates take the place of refined, empty calories and added sugar. (6)
  • Detoxifying & Eliminating Toxins – Toxicity is tied to poor digestive health, hormonal changes and decreasing liver functioning. In modern society, we are bombarded by chemicals from our diet and environment that contribute to inflammation, autoimmune diseases, infertility, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, and so on.
  • Improving Absorption of Nutrients – Many of today’s illnesses are due to nutritional deficiencies and high rates of free radical damage. The majority of processed convenience foods are stripped of their natural nutrients or at least partly manmade, packed with synthetic ingredients and preservatives but very low in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes.

 

Food is medicine guide - Dr. Axe

 


7 of the Best Medicinal Foods

What is Acupuncture? 6 Ways It Can Improve Your Health!

Acupuncture Improves Health Title

Acupuncture is a holistic health technique that stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine practices in which trained practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin.

Today acupuncture is one of the most popular practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the West. TCM is a complimentary health approach that first originated in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago and has been evolving ever since.

To treat a wide variety of diseases, pain and stress-related symptoms, practitioners of TCM use holistic techniques that include acupuncture, herbal medicines, tai chi, qi gong, massage therapy, and various “mind and body practices.”

The use of acupuncture and other TCM techniques has risen steadily in the U.S and other Western countries over the past several decades. According to a large survey done on complementary health approaches by the National Institute of Health in 2007, in the U.S. alone at least 3.1 million people had tried acupuncture in 2007. The survey showed that the number of visits to acupuncturists tripled between 1997 and 2007. (1)

The first question most people ask me is, “Does acupuncture hurt?”

Surprisingly, although needles are used in acupuncture, treatments are relatively pain-free. In fact, one of the most popular uses of acupuncture is to reduce chronic pain throughout the body in a natural way, without the need for medications that can cause unwanted side effects.

Most of the studies investigating acupuncture to date have examined whether acupuncture can safely reduce pain. However, it’s expected that in the next several years, researchers will continue to study whether or not it might help with other conditions, too – including anxiety, depression, inflammation, hot flashes, side effects of chemotherapy and insomnia.


What Is Acupuncture Able to Treat?

Currently, acupuncture is used to treat conditions like:

  • muscle spasms and pain
  • chronic back problems and pain
  • headaches, including reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines
  • neck pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • knee pain
  • allergies
  • digestive problems
  • mood, depression

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services states that,

“… promising results have emerged showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment.” (2)


Is Acupuncture Safe?

The National Institute of Health does consider acupuncture to be “generally considered safe when performed by an experienced, well-trained practitioner using sterile needles.” (3) However, it’s important to always go to a practitioner that is well-trained in acupuncture as well as to a facility that is very careful about using clean needles — improperly performed acupuncture and/or contaminated needles can pose a big risk.

The good news is that the FDA regulates acupuncture needles as medical devices and requires that the needles be “sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.” To date, there have been very few complications reported from the use of acupuncture needles, so the risk is thought to be very low. This doesn’t mean that risk doesn’t exist, however, because some serious side effects have occurred when non-sterile needles have been used.

As far as how much acupuncture is needed before seeing results, firm clinical guidelines have yet to be established. Acupuncture is usually recommended as a complimentary treatment method — as something to try in addition to other pain management techniques, such as physical therapy, exercise and reducing inflammation through a healthy diet.


Acupuncture Benefits

1. Helps Reduce Headaches and Migraines

In 2009, after researchers from the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University of Munich reviewed over 11 studies involving 2,137 acupuncture patients, they concluded that acupuncture “could be a valuable non-pharmacological tool in patients with frequent chronic tension-type headaches.”

The review looked at multiple clinical trials comparing the effects of acupuncture sessions to “sham” (placebo-type of acupuncture) sessions and to receiving no treatment at all for the relief of migraine headache pain. In particular, both the group that had needles randomly placed and the group that had strategically placed needles experienced a reduction in headache symptoms.  The control group did not experience any change.

However, in the followup survey, the group that had the real acupuncture treatment continued to have both a decrease in the number of headache days and headache pain intensity. (4)

2. Improves Chronic Pain, Including for the Back, Neck, Knee or Arthritis Pain

Acupuncture was proven to be more effective for improving chronic back pain than no acupuncture treatment in a 2006 study done by the University Medical Center of Berlin. In patients with chronic low back pain, there was a significant difference in pain reported between groups of patients receiving acupuncture over eight weeks versus those not receiving any treatment. (5)

Even more impressive is a 2012 study done by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture for four chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, arthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain.

The researchers reviewed clinical trials involving over 17,000 patients, and the results showed that patients receiving acupuncture had less pain than patients in the placebo control group for back and neck muscle aches and pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches. (6) The conclusion was that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is “more than just a placebo effect, therefore it’s a reasonable referral option for doctors.”

3. Helps Treat Insomnia

New Arizona Opioid Hotline Will Recommend Treatments — but Not Medical Marijuana

Cannabis might work as a treatment for opiate addiction. A state anti-opiate hotline won’t recommend it

Cannabis might work as a treatment for opiate addiction. A state anti-opiate hotline won't recommend it.

Using cannabis instead of opiates could save lives, studies say, but Arizona’s new opioid hotline for health care providers — and, soon, for the public — won’t recommend it as an alternative.

The free Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line is set to go live in a few days. It will be “one of the nation’s first real-time, comprehensive hotlines for healthcare providers seeking consultation for complex patients with pain and opioid use disorder,” according to a state news release.

But one treatment option the health care providers and patients won’t hear about on the hotline is medical marijuana.

“It’s not part of the protocol,” said Dr. Dan Brooks, medical director for the Banner Poison and Drug Information Centers. “We don’t have any initial plans to talk about marijuana” as a treatment option.

The hotline is viewed as one possible piece to solving a crisis that has caused bodies to pile up at morgues around the country. More people than ever are dying from the abuse of heroin, pills like OxyContin, or synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Arizona alone had 942 suspected opioid deaths from June 15 to February 22, according to the state’s Opioid Epidemic web page.

“Preventing opioid overdoses and deaths in our state needs a multifaceted approach, and the new hotline is a major step forward as it will give medical providers immediate access to experts who can help to ensure safe prescribing and to identify treatment options for patients, which may or may not include opioids,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, says in the release.

“No two patients are the same and treatments vary based on individual needs, so we need to make sure we are providing tailored resources to our medical community.”

The state DHS and Poison and Drug Information Centers plan to create new advice for health care providers. Recommendations will include “specific opioid-related information for providers, such as safe prescribing limits for opioid-naive patients, identification of potentially dangerous drug combinations, and chronic pain treatment options,” the release says.

For some patients, the hotline experts may advise the use of drugs like methadone or Vivitrol but not marijuana

Not that the nurses, doctors, and pharmacists who answer the 24-hour hotline won’t talk about cannabis at all.

“If they have questions about marijuana, we’ll answer questions,” Brooks said.”I don’t know anyone who’s advising marijuana as an alternative.”

Yet cannabis, some experts point out, has been effective in treating pain, and could be considered an advisable substitute for opiates.

Studies show that states with medical-marijuana and adult-use legalization laws have seen sharp drop-offs in their opiate overdose deaths. (None of the studies have so far included a look at Arizona’s statistics, it seems.)

Will Humble, former state DHS director and executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, stopped short of saying the hotline should recommend cannabis as a specific treatment option for specific patients. But clearly, he said, the staff should talk about its potential benefits as an opiate alternative.