Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

The historical and contemporary, medicinal uses of cannabis have been reviewed on several occasions. Perhaps the earliest published report to contain at least some objectivity on the subject was that of O’Shaughnessy (1842), an Irish surgeon, working in India, who described the analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. This report triggered the appearance of over 100 publications on the medicinal use of cannabis in American and European medical journals over the next 60 years. One such use was to treat nausea and vomiting; but it was not until the advent of potent cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that the antiemetic properties of cannabis became more widely investigated and then employed. One can argue that the available clinical evidence of efficacy is stronger here than for any other application and that proponents of its use are most likely to be successful in arguing that cannabis should be re-scheduled (to permit its use as a medicine) because it has a “currently accepted medical use”. Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Glaucoma Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis Spastic Conditions A discussion Read more […]


There are relatively few drugs that are active against viruses and their effectiveness is often restricted to preventive or disease-limitation treatment. However, some antivirals can be life-savers, especially in immunocompromised patients. Infections due to the herpes viruses (e.g. cold sores, genital herpes, shingles and chickenpox) may be prevented or contained by early treatment with acyclovir. Serious cytomegaloviral infections may also be contained by treatment with ganciclovir. There are now some HIV treatments that are moderately effective against the virus itself that are used in treating AIDS, these include zidovudine. Problems special to HIV-1 are dealt with under another heading, ANTI-HIV AGENTS. Which antiviral drugs work or how the disease is dealt with in terms of public health measures, depends, in part, on the type of virus. The DNA viruses are relatively stable in form since mutations are internally corrected, and here it is often more effective to use vaccination than chemotherapy. By these means smallpox has been eradicated. For some RNA viruses, vaccination is also effective, including poliomyelitis, rubella, measles and mumps, and some rabies strains. Other viruses mutate so rapidly that vaccination Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Milk thistle

Silybum mahanum (L.) Gaertn. (Asteraceae) Synonym(s) and related species Lady’s thistle, Marian thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, St Mary’s thistle. Carduus marianus, Mariana lactea Hill. Pharmacopoeias Milk Thistle (US Ph 32); Milk Thistle Capsules (US Ph 32); Milk Thistle Fruit (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Milk Thistle Tablets (US Ph 32); Powdered Milk Thistle (US Ph 32); Powdered Milk Thistle Extract (US Ph 32); Refined and Standardised Milk Thistle Dry Extract (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The mature fruit (seed) of milk thistle contains silymarin, which is a mixture of the flavonolignans silibinin (silybin), silicristin (silychristin), silidianin (silydianin), isosilibinin and others. It may be standardised to contain not less than 1.5% (European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4), or not less than 2% (The United States Ph 32) of silymarin, expressed as silibinin (dried drug). Standardised extracts, containing high levels of silymarin, are often used. Milk thistle fruit also contains various other flavonoids, such as quercetin, and various sterols. Note that milk thistle leaves do not contain silymarin, Read more […]

Korean ginseng: Adverse Reactions. Significant Interactions

Adverse Reactions Ginseng abuse syndrome (hypertension, nervousness, insomnia, morning diarrhea, inability to concentrate and skin reactions) has been reported and there has been a report of a 28-year-old woman who had a severe headache after ingesting a large quantity of ethanol-extracted ginseng. Cerebral angiograms showed ‘beading’ appearance in the anterior and posterior cerebral and superior cerebellar arteries, consistent with cerebral arteritis. High doses (1 5 g/day) have been associated with confusion, depression and depersonalisation in four patients. However, the majority of the scientific data suggest that ginseng is rarely associated with adverse events or drug interactions. A systematic review found that the most commonly experienced adverse events are headache, sleep and gastrointestinal disorders. Data from clinical trials suggest that the incidence of adverse events with ginseng mono-preparations is similar to that of placebo. Any documented effects are usually mild and transient. Combined preparations are more often associated with adverse events, but causal attribution is usually not possible. A case of suspected ginseng allergy has recently been reported in the scientific literature. The case Read more […]

Korean ginseng: Other Uses. Dosage

Other Uses GASTROPROTECTION DURING HEART SURGERY In a trial of 24 children undergoing heart surgery for congenital heart defects, 12 children received 1.35 mg/kg ginsenoside compound or placebo intravenously before and throughout the course of cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. Ginseng administration resulted in attenuation of gastrointestinal injury and inflammation. RESPIRA TORY DISEASE Ginseng extract (G115) has been shown significantly (P < 0.05) to improve pulmonary function test, maximum voluntary ventilation, maximum inspiratory pressure and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) in a study of 92 patients suffering moderately severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 49, G115 100 mg twice daily for 3 months). HEUCOBACTER PYLORI Helicobacter pylori can provoke gastric inflammation, ulceration and DNA damage, resulting in an increased risk of carcinogenesis. As preliminary evidence suggests that Panax ginseng inhibits the growth of Helicobacter pylori and can inhibit adhesion it may be useful as a gastroprotective agent against Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric mucosal cell damage. HIV INFECTION Long-term intake of Korean ginseng slows the depletion of CD4+ T cells and may delay disease progression Read more […]