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Marijuana (Cannabis) and Cystic Fibrosis; A Case Study

Julie Gardener

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Marijuana (Cannabis) and Cystic Fibrosis; A Case Study

October 24, 2009 CommentsDisease Treatment arthritis, cystic fibrosis, Dr Sean Breen, GERD, joint pain

Just yesterday I evaluated a 19 year old male patient who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. He and his mother came in to see me because he had used cannabis in the past to specifically treat the heart burn and joint pain that he suffered on a daily basis. In addition he claimed that when he inhaled cannabis into his lungs using a vaporizer it helped to clear out some of the mucus that patients develop on a regular basis. He wanted to see if becoming a medical marijuana patient was possible.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that effects 1/4000 newborns in the United States. The main defect in patients with cystic fibrosis is in a protein that regulates chloride transport across the cell membrane. The result is that CF patients produce large amounts of mucus in the lungs and pancreas leading to difficulty breathing and poor digestion. It is typically diagnosed when newborns fail to grow properly or when children have breathing difficulties early on in life. The average life expectancy is 38 years.

This 19 y/o patient uses numerous medications to loosen the mucus secretions in his airways. At the time of my evaluation he was being treated for active tuberculosis which is not uncommon in patients with CF. Because of the thickened mucus in his airways, bacteria typically can grow without an appropriate immune response. All of these medications that he was taking was causing nausea, GERD, lack of appetite and joint pain. For his pain he was prescribed oxycontin and given trazodone to help him sleep. His mother was concerned about the high addictive properties in opiate narcotics and wanted her son off them.

Cannabis was an excellent supplement to his medication regimen. He will be able to stop taking oxycontin for pain. He will be able to eliminate the trazodone for sleep. In addition his appetite will certainly improve and his GERD symptoms should be reduced greatly. As his mother explained to me in my office, "when he uses cannabis his quality of life improves." If that is the goldstandard for prescribing a medication then certainly this is a case where you can easily make an argument for medical cannabis.

Source: Marijuana (Cannabis) and Cystic Fibrosis; A Case Study | MCSocal
 
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