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  • Writer's pictureEmily Lipinski

Can Cannabis help Hypothyroidism?

Many people still cannot believe that “weed is legal in Canada”. It certainly has been an exciting time for some who have benefited from this change but has also upset many others.

Over the last few years it has become apparent that patients are using medical marijuana (or cannabis) for a variety of health reasons. Use of cannabis, although now legal in Canada, is still controversial. There also seems to be a lack of knowledge around both the health benefits, but also the potential side effects of it’s use.

In Canada, cannabis became legalized on October 17, 2018. Subject to provincial or territorial restrictions, adults who are 18 years of age or older are legally able to:

1. Possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public

share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults

2. Buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals are able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers

3.Grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products

Cannabis legalization is also making waves in the states. According to a Pew Research Center pool from Januaray 2018, 61% of Americans support cannabis legalization. As of May 2019, the 11 states have legal recreational and Medical Cannabis and multiple other states allow for medicinal cannabis use only.

How does Cannabis work in the body?

Human beings have a built in systems that can receive, process the compounds found in cannabis such as CDB and THC. This special system within our bodies is called The Endocannbinoid System also known as the Endogenous Cannabinoid System (ECS) and is an extensive network of neurons, receptors, enzymes and pathways that work to maintain a state balance in our bodies.

Of the 111 phytocannabinoids currently identified, THC and CBD have been the most widely studied for their health benefits. The useful pharmacological effects of these cannabinoids are listed below:

THC (r9-THC): Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, pro-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, analgesic (reduces pain), anxiolytic (reduces anxiety), anxiogenic (increases anxiety), anti-epileptic, anti-emetic (reduces nausea and vomiting), neuroprotective, euphoriant, sleep promoting

CBD: Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti-emetic (reduces nausea and vomiting), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-psoriatic, anti-diarrheal, analgesic, bone stimulant, immunosuppressive, anti-ischemic, anti-spasmotic, vasorelaxant, neuroprotective, anti-epileptic, antipsychotic, anxiolytic (reduces anxiety), transforms white fat into brown fat (may be helpful for weight loss)

THC and CBD have been found to be beneficial on their own, in an isolated form, it seems that some conditions respond better to the synergistic and combined use of CBD and THC.

Many studies have suggested that cannabis might help treat a number of human diseases and disorders now known to involve activation of the immune system including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, pain and depression. As we know that most thyroid disease sufferers have an immune system that is out of balance, it then makes sense to ask the question, if cannabis may help the immune system and also may be anti-inflammation, can it help people with autoimmune thyroid disease? Unfortunately, lack of clinical data prevents a definitive conclusion. Cannabis could be a potential therapy in the future, but it is not without side effects.

I believe cannabis addiction is one of the main adverse effects of chronic cannabis use. I have seen this dark side of cannabis multiple times in clinical practice. Although once believed that cannabis was not addictive, recent research shows that cannabis users can develop a physiological addiction or dependency to cannabis. About 9% of adult cannabis users will develop an addiction, while younger users experience about a 17% percent of addiction. Of course, using CBD in it’s isolated form, or alongside a very small about of THC may reduce this risk of addiction, but it is still unknown.

Additionally, chronic cannabis consumption can result in brain changes, such as reduction of hippocampal grey matter. Another 2015 study found a reduced hippocampus and amygdala volume in chronic users.

Other adverse effects include anxiety, hallucinations, racing heart and stimulation of appetite.

Due to these potential side effects, especially the risk of addictions, I suggest using other natural remedies before trying cannabis. Just like every other system in your body, the ECS is affected by dietary and lifestyle interventions. A diet rich in greens, onions, mushrooms, beans, berries and seeds is known to support and strengthen the ECS. Lifestyle choices that benefit the ECS are acupuncture, meditation and deep breathing. Moderate to high intensity exercises also increases endocannabinoid levels in the body.

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