Medical Marijuana and Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, often referred to as TB, is a disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. The disease usually attacks the lungs, though it may damage other areas of the body as well. While tuberculosis is curable and preventable, it remains one of the top 10 causes of death around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Documented use of cannabis for tuberculosis dates back to historical times. Modern research continues to evaluate marijuana for tuberculosis for its potential therapeutic and treatment values.
What Is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease primarily affecting the lungs of people who become ill with it. It has airborne properties and typically spreads when people who have active tuberculosis infections cough, sneeze or spit, and another person inhales the expelled germs.
Experts at the WHO report nearly one-quarter of the world’s population is carrying latent TB, but are not symptomatic. These people cannot transmit the disease until or unless they do become ill and exhibit tuberculosis symptoms.
Risk Factors for Tuberculosis
While anyone infected with TB may fall ill with the disease, there are some who have greater odds of falling ill, including people who:
- Are malnourished
- Have diabetes
- Have HIV
- Interact with people who have TB
- Treat TB patients
- Use IV drugs
- Use tobacco products
- Have compromised immune systems
Babies and small children have a higher risk when exposed to tuberculosis because their immune systems haven’t developed fully. Other people who may have a more significant vulnerability to the condition include patients who are taking medications to suppress their immune systems, like organ donation patients and those who have cancer and are receiving chemotherapy treatments.
Tuberculosis is more common in some areas of the world than others, with the following seven countries accounting for roughly 64 percent of tuberculosis cases worldwide:
- South Africa
Many Americans believe, mistakenly, tuberculosis has been all but wiped out here. That isn’t the case. It’s more common in the U.S. among people who frequently travel to countries with higher TB rates, or were born in countries where the disease is more prevalent.
Symptoms of Tuberculosis
Symptoms of tuberculosis are very consistent for patients with infected lungs. They include a variety of things, such as:
- Chest pain when breathing or coughing
- Coughing lasting longer than three weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
People who have latent TB will not experience these, or any, symptoms and do not spread the disease to others.
Types of Tuberculosis
There are two primary types of tuberculosis: active TB and latent TB.
- Active TB: This type describes the active stage of TB in which tuberculosis bacteria are quickly multiplying and invading various organs of the body. This is the symptomatic and contagious stage of the disease. Everyone you have contact with will need to take a TB test.
- Latent TB: This type alludes to the latent stage of TB, when the bacteria are present in your system without causing symptoms. You are not contagious during this phase, but it can progress into active TB — especially among people who take immunosuppressant medications or have illnesses, like HIV.
However, there are exceptions to traditional types of TB: extrapulmonary TB and military TB.
- Extrapulmonary TB: This type refers to tuberculosis affecting organs other than the lungs.
- Military TB: This type is a rare form of tuberculosis in which the bacteria work their way into the bloodstream. Military TB allows the disease to progress quickly, affecting multiple organs at once and often leading to a rapid death for the patient.
Fast diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis are essential for reducing the effects of the disease on patients and preventing the spread of TB to other people you may interact with routinely.
Effects of Tuberculosis
Physically, the symptoms of TB take a toll on the body. The symptoms described above alone can make it difficult to work while living with TB. Combine that with the highly contagious nature of the disease, and work is out of the question for people living with TB until they no longer have symptoms.
Psychologically and emotionally, the disease takes an even more prominent toll on many patients, making them feel as though they are not only isolated, but also stigmatized within their communities for having the disease to begin with.
Some people feel as though they have lost family and friends because of the disease. The longer it takes to recover from tuberculosis, the more pervasive these negative thoughts and feelings become. Individuals living with tuberculosis may experience anxiety, problems sleeping and even depressive thoughts.
Worldwide, the statics for tuberculosis are rather grim. In the U.S., the outlook is much better, with abundant access to treatment and early diagnosis reducing the transmission speeds and rates of the disease.
- The WHO declared tuberculosis to be a global health emergency in 1993. However, in 2010, there were 12 million cases of TB worldwide, according to Doctors Without Borders, resulting in between 1.2 and 1.5 million deaths.
- Nearly 650,000 cases of tuberculosis in 2010 were multi-drug resistant, which means they are much more difficult to treat. These numbers were higher than the numbers in 1993, when officials initially declared the emergency.
- Five of every 10 people with tuberculosis will die within five years. Those numbers can be even higher among people with compromised immune systems or if a patient has multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
- The WHO reports TB is the leading cause of death among HIV-positive people, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all HIV deaths in 2016.
History of Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is an ancient illness plaguing mankind throughout history — and prehistory, according to ScienceDirect. As Thomas M. Daniel explains in his History of Tuberculosis article, Mycobacterium tuberculosis may be responsible for more deaths than any other microbial pathogen in human history.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, tuberculosis saw a sharp rise before declining. During this time, researchers discovered Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and developed a skin test for latent infections. Before the discovery of antibiotics, physicians treated patients with TB in sanatoriums during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since then, new treatments abound to treat tuberculosis in people of all ages.
Current Treatments Available for Tuberculosis and Their Side Effects
Physicians use a variety of medicines to treat standard strains of tuberculosis. Most patients must take one or more medications for six months after the diagnosis.
As with many medications, it is essential to take the full course, even if patients begin to feel better. Failing to do so could result in the TB infection coming back. When this occurs, the new strain is often resistant to previous medications and can prove more challenging to treat.
Because some strains are more resistant to medications than others, some doctors prefer to prescribe multiple TB medications, including:
Some of these medications can cause liver damage. TB patients should watch for the following symptoms and contact physicians immediately if they experience them:
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained nausea and vomiting
- Yellowing of the skin
Drug-resistant and multi-drug-resistant TB are much more difficult to treat, and their medical professionals must oversee and closely monitor treatments in these situations, as these types of TB offer greater threats to patients.
There is no denying tuberculosis poses a significant threat to human life. Patients who have this disease should never take it lightly. If you are experiencing the symptoms of tuberculosis mentioned above or encounter someone who has tuberculosis, it is in your best interest to seek medical attention right away, before it can do too much damage to your lungs and other organs. Early diagnosis is the key to stamping out this disease.
How and Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Tuberculosis
In 1955, a Czechoslovakian tuberculosis nutrition study stated hemp seed cured tuberculosis.
After studying hemp seed for more than 30 years, researchers found a diet high in protein could treat TB successfully. Hemp seed has the edestin protein, which you can easily digest and is similar to human globulin, according to researchers. Therefore, researchers concluded hemp seed was the best protein to treat tuberculosis.
Another study in the 1960s found marijuana resin inhibited TB bacteria growth and other pathogens successfully. Researchers didn’t know much about cannabinoids back then, but they did find CBD’s antimicrobial characteristics to be a particularly helpful and effective medical marijuana for tuberculosis treatment.
The American Society of Pharmacognosy and the American Chemical Society conducted a study finding medical weed highly effective in fighting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other deadly treatment-resistant bacteria.
The study showed the five main cannabinoids in marijuana had potent antibacterial activity. These cannabinoids are:
These cannabinoids were not only successful at combating MRSA and a range of other dangerous bacteria, but also the treatment-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
What Side Effects and Symptoms of Tuberculosis Can Medical Marijuana Treat?
Cannabis and tuberculosis treatment can be effective for a whole host of TB symptoms, including:
- Chest pain or pain when coughing or breathing
- Nausea from treatments
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling tired all the time
More people with TB are opting for medical cannabis for tuberculosis.
Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Tuberculosis Symptoms and Their Side Effects
In different areas around the world, people have been using marijuana and tuberculosis treatments since historical times. These days, in many cultures, people consider cannabis folk medicine for treating tuberculosis and other disorders. Below are five marijuana strains for tuberculosis you can try to effectively relieve your TB symptoms.
- Charlotte’s Web (Sativa): If you’re looking for a strain to treat your TB symptoms that doesn’t cause you to get high, Charlotte’s Web is it. It is incredibly high in CBD, and only contains 0.5 percent THC, sometimes less.
- Strawberry Cough (Sativa): This strain is ideal for TB patients who want to relax their mind, but also treat their fatigue. It’s a beneficial daytime medication, as it provides you with the energy you need to fight your fatigue and get through your day. Patients have also used it to treat their:
- Lack of appetite
- ACDC (hybrid): ACDC has a 1-to-20 THC-to-CBD ratio, which offers potent healing properties, but no psychoactive effect. Doctors have been using it to treat conditions like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, and it effectively addresses side effects of chemotherapy, pain, anxiety and more.
- Girl Scout Cookies (hybrid): GSC gives a happy and euphoric high while offering TB patients relief from pain, stress, insomnia, lack of appetite and depression.
- Blue Dream (hybrid): Blue Dream provides you with fast relief for many tuberculosis symptoms, such as stress, pain, nausea, depression and insomnia.
Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment for the Side Effects and Symptoms of Tuberculosis
Marijuana for tuberculosis treatment isn’t limited to smoking only. In fact, many fans of the herb incorporate cannabis into edibles like brownies, candies and cookies — an ingenious method, since cannabis produces the “munchies” and can help those struggling with weight loss and lack of appetite.
Some popular methods of taking marijuana include:
With this cannabis for tuberculosis treatment method, you steep weed buds, leaves and stems in boiling water for around 30 minutes to make tea.
Despite some trials that claim smoking cannabis isn’t as unhealthy as cigarettes, most researchers say cannabis contains carcinogens and toxins that may increase your risk for cancer and respiratory diseases and damage your lungs. Because of this, you may wish to try the other, healthier methods of delivery.
Vaporizers gently heat the cannabis at the low temperatures needed for releasing marijuana’s active medicinal elements. They have fewer damaging byproducts, making vaporizers the most recommended delivery method.
Tinctures and Tonics
Tonics and tinctures are liquid forms of medical pot you apply to your skin, add to food or consume orally by itself.
Edibles produce a “body high” instead of the typical “head high.” Patients claim edibles produce a deeper or heavier feeling to tackle their chronic body pain. However, it can be easy to consume too much cannabis with this method if you’re not careful, since you can’t see the amount you’re taking. Edibles are also slower to kick in, which can trick you into thinking you need more to achieve the desired effects.
All of these contain cannabis oils. Topicals are also antibacterial.
Wax and Hash
Manufacturers compress cannabis flower resin into small blocks you can eat, smoke or add to edibles or tea. Wax and hash are potent forms of marijuana, often providing quick pain relief in mere minutes.
Take the Next Step in Obtaining Medical Marijuana for Tuberculosis
You’ll receive significant benefits, such as gaining access to a vast list of dispensaries, by obtaining a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, and you’re wondering what your next step is to become a qualified medical marijuana patient, look no further than Marijuana Doctors. Here, you can search for a cannabis dispensary or connect with a medical marijuana doctor.