Scientists at the University of Sydney have published a study which examined how cannabinoids affect neuromuscular transmission. Their results suggest that medicinal cannabis could be a treatment option for diseases such as myasthenia gravis...
A study performed by the team from the University of Sydney may bring hope to patients and physicians who deal with myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body. Currently, treatments include surgery to remove the thymus gland, anticholinesterase medications, immunosuppressive drugs, plasmapheresis, and intravenous immunoglobulin.
This new study suggests there may be another treatment option: cannabis.
The team in Australia went into their study noting that, "Cannabinoids have been intensely studied in the brain for many years, their effects on the mammalian neuromuscular junction have been curiously overlooked..." That being the case, the team wanted to take a deeper look into the area. They wanted examine how cannabinoids affected a mouse model of myasthenia gravis. They believed that "The influence of cannabinoids in the peripheral nervous system is less clear and might have broad implications for the therapeutic application of cannabinoids..."
Their results appeared to have confirmed their theories. They found that there was "A novel cannabinoid effect upon the mouse neuromuscular synapse: acutely increasing synaptic vesicle volume and raising the quantal amplitudes..." They went on to note that "acute cannabinoid treatment restored disease-impaired neuromuscular transmission. We therefore conclude that cannabinoids positively modulate synaptic transmission at the mammalian (neuromuscular junction) through a hitherto undescribed mechanism. Our results suggest that cannabinoids might play a role in sustaining neuromuscular transmission."
This study, like many others being regularly released around the world, continues to dispel incorrect theories which plague dialogue about cannabis as medicine. As was noted in the study, “The increasing usage of cannabinoids in a variety of medical conditions highlights the crucial need to better understand the physiological roles of cannabinoids in the periphery. Here we reveal evidence of their involvement in regulating neuromuscular transmission, and a possible therapeutic potential for cannabinoid signaling in myasthenia gravis.”
Science, data, and research continue to tell us that medicinal cannabis can be a powerful and safe treatment option for patients suffering from a wide variety of ailments. Hopefully, studies like this one will continue to chip away at the stigmas that prevent cannabis from taking its rightful place in modern medicine.