The buzz around cannabis as a potential medical marvel continues, with recent research diving into its potential to tame the unruly tics of Tourette's syndrome. A groundbreaking double-blind, crossover trial has brought some promising insights to light, although not without a touch of cognitive caution. If you’ve been in the industry long enough you are probably all too familiar with the beat.
Cannabis, Tourette's, and the Enticing Tangle
The study, funded by the Wesley Medical Research Institute and the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, sought to investigate the potential value of cannabis (THC & CBD) in Tourette’s Syndrome.
In this double-blind, crossover trial, participants diagnosed with severe Tourette syndrome were randomly divided into groups. Each group underwent a 6-week treatment phase involving increasing doses of an oral oil. This oil contained 5 mg/ml of THC and 5 mg/ml of CBD. Following this treatment period, participants then underwent a 6-week placebo phase. The order of treatment and placebo phases was alternated between groups, and a 4-week interval without any treatment was observed between these phases to minimize potential carryover effects.
Positive Results Versus Cognitive Compromises
The researchers found that the use of THC and CBD as treatment agents in Tourette’s demonstrated a reduction in tics, along with a potential mitigation of the impairments caused by the tics. They also observed a significant reduction in the associated anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, they also observed significant side effects including “slowed mentation, memory lapses, and poor concentration.”
Critics have however cast aspersions on the study design including the habitual use of Sativex instead of the actual cannabis plant.Here is what some have had to say about this:
@ Kyle Esplin: “I would put that down to it being a combination of isolates and not whole plant extract as the main issue there. It says plant derived, but that just means plant derived isolate in this context.
‘An inert hemp seed oil (tested to confirm the absence of canna- binoids) was used as placebo. The products were identical in their visual appearance and smell.’
If it looks and smells like hempseed oil… it’s not whole plant extract!”
“Totally agree with you Kyle, the longer that we are subjected with inferior trials using inferior isolates or synthetic versions, the longer that this transition to plant based medicines will take.
For example, using Sativex in any trial and then lording those results as an indication of a failure to treat that disease/condition with cannabis medicine – these results then being used to manipulate government policy. It really has to end.
I would recommend, along with the double blind aspect, that whole plant high THC extracts must also be used in the test. So this way, the scientists get to prove that their expensive isolates actually work better than the raw organic whole plant extracts, and removing the hundreds of additional medicinal molecules that create the Entourage Effect was worth it. And Sativex could then justify the charge of £1000/g+ for their superior isolates.
If it's not better than a whole plant extract then there is just no point in doing it, and absolutely no point in us impoverishing ourselves to buy inferior medicines from Scientists in white coats!”
There is no point in doing cannabis research if we know what results we want to produce from the get go, right?