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Medical Marijuana and Porphyria

What Is Porphyria?

 

Porphyria is not one simple disorder, but refers to a group of at least eight separate disorders. Although each disorder within the classification of porphyria carries with it its own set of unique characteristics, the one common characteristic shared by all disorders within the classification of porphyria is that they all result from the build-up of chemicals known as porphyrins or porphyrin precursors. The human body produces these chemicals naturally; however, the accumulation of porphyrins or porphyrin precursors is not normal. Porphyria is a rare disorder, afflicting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States with all the forms of porphyria combined. The cause of porphyria is typically genetic in nature and due to a mutated gene.
Symptoms of porphyria can vary widely, depending on which of the various porphyrias the patient is afflicted with. Along with a variance of symptoms based on which type of porphyria the patient suffers from, there are also two general types of the disorder: acute and cutaneous. Symptoms are generally related to the nervous system, skin or both. The acute form tends to show nervous system symptoms more prominently than skin-related symptoms and rarely attacks females before puberty or after menopause. The cutaneous form favors skin-related symptoms and typically starts to show symptoms in infancy or childhood. Acute porphyria symptoms may include severe abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting and diarrhea as well as anxiety and insomnia. Muscle pain, tingling or weakness as well as seizures, confusion and hallucinations are also common symptoms. The cutaneous form often shows symptoms such as painful red skin, itching, swelling of the skin and blisters. Red urine is a symptom of both forms of porphyria.
There is no known cure for porphyria. Conventional treatment is aimed at managing the symptoms of the disorder. Ceasing any medications that may have triggered the symptoms as well as treating any underlying infections that may have triggered an outbreak is necessary. Medications may also be given that help reduce the levels of porphyrins in the body. After that, treatment generally tries to manage the pain and anxiety associated with porphyria.

Porphyria is not one simple disorder, but refers to a group of at least eight separate disorders. Although each disorder within the classification of porphyria carries with it its own set of unique characteristics, the one common characteristic shared by all disorders within the classification of porphyria is that they all result from the build-up of chemicals known as porphyrins or porphyrin precursors. The human body produces these chemicals naturally; however, the accumulation of porphyrins or porphyrin precursors is not normal. Porphyria is a rare disorder, afflicting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States with all the forms of porphyria combined. The cause of porphyria is typically genetic in nature and due to a mutated gene.

Symptoms of porphyria can vary widely, depending on which of the various porphyrias the patient is afflicted with. Along with a variance of symptoms based on which type of porphyria the patient suffers from, there are also two general types of the disorder: acute and cutaneous. Symptoms are generally related to the nervous system, skin or both. The acute form tends to show nervous system symptoms more prominently than skin-related symptoms and rarely attacks females before puberty or after menopause. The cutaneous form favors skin-related symptoms and typically starts to show symptoms in infancy or childhood. Acute porphyria symptoms may include severe abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting and diarrhea as well as anxiety and insomnia. Muscle pain, tingling or weakness as well as seizures, confusion and hallucinations are also common symptoms. The cutaneous form often shows symptoms such as painful red skin, itching, swelling of the skin and blisters. Red urine is a symptom of both forms of porphyria.

There is no known cure for porphyria. Conventional treatment is aimed at managing the symptoms of the disorder. Ceasing any medications that may have triggered the symptoms as well as treating any underlying infections that may have triggered an outbreak is necessary. Medications may also be given that help reduce the levels of porphyrins in the body. After that, treatment generally tries to manage the pain and anxiety associated with porphyria.

Medical Marijuana and Porphyria

Medical Marijuana and Porphyria
Because someone suffering with porphyria will have to live with the disorder and its corresponding symptoms for life, managing the pain and anxiety associated with the disorder can become difficult. Traditional opiate-based pain medication can become addictive as well as less effective over time. Traditional anti-anxiety drugs often come with a long list of possible negative side effects that can lead to other medical problems. Medical marijuana may be an alternative treatment option that can help with both the pain associated with porphyria and the anxiety. Medical marijuana is also an excellent option for a porphyria sufferer who struggles with nausea and vomiting as a result of the disorder.
Medical Marijuana and Porphyria: Clinical Evidence
Medical marijuana has been used for pain relief throughout history by a wide variety of cultures. The analgesic properties offered by medical marijuana have also been confirmed in recent clinical studies. One recent study looked at the possible benefit to long-term opiate-based pain medication users of adding medical marijuana to their daily routine. By adding medical marijuana, the participants were able to use less opiate-based pain relievers while still getting the same level of pain relief.
Medical marijuana has also been studied extensively as an appetite stimulant and medication for nausea and/or vomiting with excellent results. Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation are often prescribed medical marijuana to help reduce nausea and vomiting and to stimulate the appetite.
Along with its signifigant analgesic and anti-nausea benefits, medical marijuana has long been believed to produce a calming effect for many users. As a result, recent studies have also looked at the validity of claims that medical marijuana can work as an anti-anxiety medication. Although some people report that medical marijuana actually increases anxiety, others report that is has a soothing effect that significantly reduces anxiety. The disparate results may be due to the differences in individual body chemistry.

Medical Marijuana and Porphyria

Because someone suffering with porphyria will have to live with the disorder and its corresponding symptoms for life, managing the pain and anxiety associated with the disorder can become difficult. Traditional opiate-based pain medication can become addictive as well as less effective over time. Traditional anti-anxiety drugs often come with a long list of possible negative side effects that can lead to other medical problems. Medical marijuana may be an alternative treatment option that can help with both the pain associated with porphyria and the anxiety. Medical marijuana is also an excellent option for a porphyria sufferer who struggles with nausea and vomiting as a result of the disorder.

Medical Marijuana and Porphyria: Clinical Evidence

Medical marijuana has been used for pain relief throughout history by a wide variety of cultures. The analgesic properties offered by medical marijuana have also been confirmed in recent clinical studies. One recent study looked at the possible benefit to long-term opiate-based pain medication users of adding medical marijuana to their daily routine. By adding medical marijuana, the participants were able to use less opiate-based pain relievers while still getting the same level of pain relief.

Medical marijuana has also been studied extensively as an appetite stimulant and medication for nausea and/or vomiting with excellent results. Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation are often prescribed medical marijuana to help reduce nausea and vomiting and to stimulate the appetite.Along with its signifigant analgesic and anti-nausea benefits, medical marijuana has long been believed to produce a calming effect for many users. As a result, recent studies have also looked at the validity of claims that medical marijuana can work as an anti-anxiety medication. Although some people report that medical marijuana actually increases anxiety, others report that is has a soothing effect that significantly reduces anxiety. The disparate results may be due to the differences in individual body chemistry.

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