The hottest topic in the news today is the legal use of medical marijuana (Cannabis) in states like Colorado. Cannabis’ use in medicine dates back 2000 years BC. It has been a recreational drug in the U.S. since the 1930’s. However, Colorado has been burning up the headlines recently with their legalization of the drug and although not known to many, medical use of marijuana has actually been legalized in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
Research argues back and forth on the topic of Cannabis’ use and risks with no clear cut answer. According to numerous studies Cannabis or it’s synthetic derivatives have indications in pain management, nausea, vomiting, anorexia associated with HIV and cancer, glaucoma, muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis, headaches and others.
The dangers from Cannabis are found mainly in the way it is ingested. As an organic plant it contains multiple anti-oxidants however, it’s smoke contains many carcinogens that can lead to cancerous processes. Health organizations that are pro-marijuana recognize this and recommend either vaporizing and inhaling or ingesting in pill or edible form.
In Podiatry, the use of medical marijuana (although I will not be prescribing this anytime soon) could be extremely helpful. If found to be a safe drug upon proper testing and research, Cannabis could help with one of the more common and more difficult diagnosis to treat- Peripheral Neuropathy.
Diabetics can eventually lose sensation to their hands and feet. It is not the same as having your foot fall asleep. It can start with that same heavy sensation but then can progress to deep burning, numbness and tingling. The treatment for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy today is sporadic and weak, ranging from anti-depressants to topical creams. Another alternative is needed, but is Cannabis the answer?
Amputees, patients with back injuries and others also deal with neuropathic pain. Many patients in Podiatry offices have pain management needs that do not have good answers. Opioids are narcotic derivatives of Opium Poppy, the same plant that gave us morphine and heroin. Opioids are the gold standard drug prescribed for pain management. I do not advocate medical Cannabis, but there are worse things on the market today.
As mentioned above, the concerns for medical marijuana use are in its addictive and carcinogenic properties. It can cause cardiovascular and cerebrovascular problems. Multiple studies have shown that cannabis use can also lead to psychotic disorders, namely schizophrenia. A study of 50,000 Swedish soldiers who smoked Cannabis at least once were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those who had not smoked.
I do not advocate medical use of marijuana. I believe it is not a safe alternative to other medicines we have today, however I do believe that with further research and testing it could be implemented as a pharmaceutical tool in some specific diseases. Is Marijuana the answer? I’m going to think about it over a plate of these brownies my friend from Colorado sent me.
For more questions regarding burning, numbness, tingling in the feet (peripheral neuropathy) please contact”
Dr. Marcin N. Vaclaw
Foot and Ankle Specialists of The Woodlands
9191 Pinecroft #225
The Woodlands, TX 77380