Medical marijuana as a tinnitus treatment : introduction
Medicinal marijuana as a viable treatment type for a number of illnesses has really come to the fore in recent times. Obviously it is not without controversy. Depending on where you live, the laws may provide for or go against the use of medicinal marijuana. In this article, I want to look, as part of my ‘treating tinnitus series’ at the potential of medicinal marijuana for tinnitus sufferers.
Very early on in my journey looking at providing help to tinnitus sufferers, I posed a question on a fairly large forum asking – what are your biggest issues surrounding tinnitus. The vast majority responded that sleep was a huge issue and I created the free eBook – 7 ways to better sleep with tinnitus which you can download here. As people responded to each other, sufferers posted what they used to try to help them sleep and marijuana was something that a good number seem to have had relief with so I believed that there is something interesting here and worth delving into a little further.
What is medicinal marijuana?
According to the WHO, marijuana is the most popular recreational drug worldwide. It however needs to be separated into recreational and medicinal – there is a difference. It ultimately comes down to a chemical that is either present or not – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) if it’s present it gives the feeling of euphoria that recreational users associate with marijuana and this is the part that makes it illegal. Wherein THC and this euphoria does benefit some people with chronic illnesses it is not of any real interest or benefit to most tinnitus sufferers and so is not considered.
The other types of marijuana does contain THC but in very small amounts. These are further cancelled out by the presence of a chemical called cannabidiol (CBD). Due to the non-euphoria of CBD marijuana, it has become very interesting to some areas of medicine. One of the areas that it is known to treat people with success is with epilipsy and this is where is becomes interesting for tinnitus sufferers. (strangely!!!)
Treating tinnitus as a type of epilepsy?
One of the more interesting theories (with science behind it) is the idea that tinnitus is a form of sensory epilepsy brought about by a change of activity in the cochlear. In this, it has been found that cannabinoid drugs administered have had a positive effect on tinnitus sufferers. In fact, it has been shown that there are cannabinoid receptors in the cochlear which makes this treatment of increased interest. In particular is the relationship between tinnitus and temporal lobe epilepsy. Further reading on this relationship can be found here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1537/
In 2009, as part of scientific testing, mice with tinnitus were treated with medicinal marijuana and it was noted that it provided relief (how this is measured in mice I really don’t know!) You can find the study here; http://www.pnas.org/content/108/18/7601. IT was noted that certain receptors reacted favourably to the cannabinoid drugs which is very interesting. Another interesting study can be found here where there was a 50/50 split from people on whether or not they noted any improvements. You can read more here https://mmjdoctoronline.com/blog-marijuana/tinnitus
Medical marijuana is used by many people as a replacement for drugs that they are taking but which are very expensive or in some cases which pose more danger. It has been known to replace some antidepressants for example.
Interestingly, in relation to the study that I carried out initially, medical marijuana has been prescribed by some doctors not because of the studies and potential in lessening tinnitus but rather to help the patient to sleep!
One a side note, myself and my mate were cycling from Tours to Nantes in France last summer. At one point, we passed a field which was full of cannabis and we were taken aback that this field would exist along a public road etc. At the next available wifi zone, we had a look and indeed the area was designated as a legitimate grow area of medical marijuana – interesting we thought!!
Of course, a little like the caffeine post I did here, there are sufferers who actually report that cannabinoid drugs actually cause a spike in their tinnitus. Tinnitus unfortunately is so varied that it cannot be the same for everyone and so spikes for some makes complete sense.
Cannabinoid drugs and their potential purely for tinnitus sufferers is still at an early stage – watch this space!
Thanks for reading,