Wednesday, February 21

Studies Look at Effects of MTX and Marijuana for Arthritis Patients

Chances are if you’ve watched the news at any point in the past few years, you’ve seen something about medical marijuana. Previously a taboo subject because of its hallucinogenic properties, marijuana is now being altered for medical use. Another taboo treatment being studied at the moment is Methotrexate (MTX), which has been used as a cancer treatment in the past. However, there recently has been success with using it for rheumatoid arthritis.

In the United States alone, 51.2 million people have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, or some form of arthritis by their doctors. Many of those people could be saved from a lot of pain by using new methods of treatment such as MTX and medical marijuana. That is precisely what two studies are attempting to illustrate.

The first study looks at the use of medical marijuana for arthritis; specifically, it’s use on knee pain caused by arthritis. The team is currently recruiting patients based in Montreal and Halifax. Their goal is to find a treatment that has the least amount of side effects with the maximum help. For this case, they will be using two groups, both of which believe they are smoking vaporized marijuana. It will be conducted as a double-blind experiment, meaning one group has the real drug and one has a placebo, and neither the patients nor the researchers will know which group is which.

For those worried about the effects of marijuana, this study is also looking at ways to alter the amounts of THC and CBD. CBD is the part that doesn’t have any psychological effects, but still has the medical effects, while THC is the psychoactive agent. The hope of the study is to get as much THC taken out as possible, so that the patients can receive the treatment without the side effect of getting high. This study is incredibly important, as current treatments are not adequate for the pain many patients are experiencing. The results, which will be available in about 18 months, will be a crucial step forward.

Another study attempting to find alternative treatment methods involves the use of MTX to treat rheumatoid arthritis. This study has not come without controversy however. Though this treatment has been pretty much standard for this ailment, MTX has traditionally been used as a cancer treatment, and many worry that the effects are too harsh for arthritis pain. In response, a study was done to measure a popular way to balance MTX: folic acid. Many believe that it reduces side effects, but others argued it also reduce the effects of MTX. However, the new study found that neither statement was true, and that MTX- taken in small dosages- is fine.

What do you think? Do you stand behind these treatments?

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