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Some Proof that Marijuana is a Powerful Medicine

July 5, 2010

06-29-08|Wired Science|By Aaron Rowe

Marijuana contains an amazing chemical, beta-caryophyllene, and scientists have thoroughly proven that it could be used to treat pain, inflammation, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis.

Jürg Gertsch, of ETH Zürich, and his collaborators from three other universities learned that the natural molecule can activate a protein called cannabinoid receptor type 2. When that biological button is pushed, it soothes the immune system, increases bone mass, and blocks pain signals — without causing euphoria or interfering with the central nervous system.

Gertsch and his team published their findings on June 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.They focused on the anti-inflammatory properties of the impressive substance — testing it on immune cells called monocytes and also in mice.

Since beta-caryophyllene seems to be powerful, occurs naturally in many foods, and does not get people high, it could turn out to be a nearly ideal medication. The organic compound is also phenomenally cheap. Sigma Aldrich sells it, in kosher form, for forty-two dollars per kilogram.

Unfortunately, big pharmaceutical companies tend not to seek FDA approval for natural chemicals, and most doctors are reluctant to prescribe drugs that have not received a green light from the regulatory agency. Thus, it would require a heroic effort by academic researchers to prove that beta-caryophyllene is safe and effective in humans.

Perhaps, before that happens, the natural substance will find its way into the herbal medicine aisle of health food stores.

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Donation links to NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) | MPP (Marijuana Policy Project)
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