research-casestudies-banner

The Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

 

The World Health Organization reported in 2018 that an estimated 3 million deaths result from harmful use of alcohol, representing 5.3% of all deaths worldwide. Alcohol is the underlying cause of many different diseases, and it is estimated that 5.1% of the entire global burden of disease is attributed to alcohol. But the harm drinking alcohol can cause doesn’t stop just by ceasing its consumption; alcohol can still cause harm even after an individual abstains from alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal is a condition that can result from abruptly stopping alcohol consumption after prolonged periods of heavy use. 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

When excessive alcohol consumption is abruptly stopped, withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear as quickly as a few hours, but commonly within the first day after the patient’s last drink. The most common signs of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) include the following.

  • Anxiety
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Sweats
  • Tremors

In severe cases, some individuals also experience elevated heart rate and blood pressure, confusion, delirium, and, in an estimated 15% of cases, seizures also occur. The onset of alcohol withdrawal is more prevalent in individuals who drink several drinks daily and those who drank daily for at least two consecutive weeks.

When Should You Seek Help for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

If you or a loved one experience severe confusion, heavy sweating, racing heartbeats, violent shaking, hallucinations, the sensation of bugs crawling on your skin, seizures, or delusions, it is essential that you seek medical assistance immediately. The symptoms can be a sign of a condition known as delirium tremens, which typically starts within the first 48 to 72 hours after drinking has ceased. It is estimated that 5% of individuals that suffer from alcohol withdrawal develop delirium tremens. Of those individuals, it is estimated that 5%-25% of these cases result in fatality.

How Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Diagnosed?

To diagnose Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and ask you about your symptoms and alcohol use. The doctor may also perform a toxicology screening and ask you a series of questions that are a part of the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol, which utilizes a scale to measure the severity of 10 different symptoms. This assessment, also known CIWA-Ar, reviews the severity of symptoms such as agitation, headaches, nausea and vomiting, sweating, tremors, visual/audio disturbances, and more.

The Endocannabinoid System and Alcohol Withdrawal

The body’s endogenous cannabinoid system has been attributed to helping balance many functions within our bodies through cannabinoid receptors found in tissues and organs throughout our anatomy. Cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 receptors are devastated when alcohol is introduced into the body. Alcohol consumption greatly reduces the prevalence of these receptors and also increases the production of GABA and dopamine within the brain. Introducing cannabinoids such as CBD and THC may help to bring balance to the brain’s chemistry and increase the prevalence of these vital receptors within our bodies.

A 2017 study published by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver concluded that nearly half of all medical cannabis consumers that participated in the study applied for medical cannabis cards in order to substitute the natural alternative of cannabis for alcohol. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, cannabis can also work as a neuroprotective agent to protect the brain stem from damage already caused by alcohol consumption.

Traditional Treatments for Alcohol Withdrawal

When Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome is diagnosed, it is most often treated with either home care or hospitalization. Both of these can include a combination of medications and therapies. In the case of hospitalization, in many instances, the patient will have to be administered IV medications and fluids to prevent dehydration. Whether at home or in the hospital, many individuals diagnosed with AWS will be prescribed sedatives such as benzodiazepines, including Ativan, Xanax, or Valium.

Additionally, patients may receive medications to help with symptoms such as headache, nausea, and vomiting, fever, and lower blood pressure. The most beneficial treatment for AWS, however, is the abstinence of alcohol consumption. In some cases, patients may have to seek out addiction centers in order to be able to overcome AWS and abstain from alcohol when their home environments do not support sobriety.

Plant Therapies for Alcohol Withdrawal Clinical Trials Synopsis

Currently, the University of Sydney is recruiting participants for a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial to explore the effectiveness and tolerability of CBD for the treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms in an in-patient setting. This randomized clinical trial will include 52 participants. Inclusion criteria for this study states that you must be between the ages of 18 and 65 years old. You must have had at least one prior episode that lasted for two days or more in which you experienced withdrawal symptoms that caused incapacitation, or a prior instance of medical detoxification in which withdrawal symptoms were exhibited.

To be included, you must have a history of consuming at least eight alcoholic beverages per day for a two-week period prior to enrollment in the study. You must also be willing to give written informed consent to participate in the study and have adequate cognition and English language skills in order to give valid consent and complete the research interviews. There is also an extensive list of exclusion criteria that can prevent you from participating in this study. If you are interested in participating in this study, check out the full details and register your interest.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.

The Insomnia Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

 

Insomnia is a condition that many people are familiar with. This condition, which is characterized by the inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, affects millions of people around the globe. According to statistics from a 2019 report commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation, 14.8% of Australians “have symptoms which could result in a diagnosis of clinical insomnia.” Globally, it is estimated that 10-30% of adults have insomnia, while other reports show that number to be higher in the 40-60% range.

The Insomnia Landscape 

While many people are familiar with insomnia, many are not aware that there are actually several different types of insomnia. Each varying type of insomnia has a different onset time, duration of existence, symptoms, causes, and side effects. The most commonly diagnosed forms of insomnia are acute insomnia, chronic insomnia, onset insomnia, maintenance insomnia, and behavioral insomnia of childhood.

Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia

The most common signs and symptoms of insomnia are difficulty falling asleep, awakening frequently throughout the night, waking up too early with an inability to go back to sleep, and sleeping undisturbed yet feeling fatigued upon waking. This lack of sleep and inability to stay asleep can lead to many symptoms throughout the day. These include but are not limited to the following.

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Poor Memory and Concentration
  • Irritability
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Lack of Interest
  • Inability to Stay Awake Through Daily Activities
  • Lack of Motivation

When Should You Seek Help for Insomnia Symptoms? 

While it can be common to have a restless night, if you experience trouble sleeping or staying asleep for a prolonged period of time, it is vital that you see a medical professional. If you are having difficulty sleeping and this affects your ability to function throughout the day, it is recommended that you seek medical help to get your insomnia diagnosed and under control.

How Is Insomnia Diagnosed?

To diagnose insomnia, a doctor will typically perform a physical exam as well as review your medical history to see if there are signs of any other underlying conditions that might be causing your sleep issues. You may also be asked to track your sleep patterns and symptoms or be referred to a sleep study to check for other sleep disorders before being diagnosed with insomnia.

The Endocannabinoid System & Insomnia 

Plant therapies such as cannabis have been known to help individuals that have issues sleeping. Cannabis is particularly known for being a very relaxing substance and for its sedative effects. A study published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience in 2020 concluded that when cannabis compounds such as THC and CBD are consumed, it activates the production of the body’s natural endocannabinoids such as anandamide and 2-AG.

These natural endocannabinoids have been shown to help balance the body’s circadian rhythm, in return helping to regulate sleep. In addition to cannabinoids, cannabis naturally contains terpenes such as myrcene, limonene, and linalool, which have been shown to help relieve insomnia through many different studies. 

Traditional Treatments for Insomnia

Traditional treatments for insomnia include over-the-counter or prescription-strength sleep aids, cognitive behavioral therapies, and additional medications to address any underlying symptoms that may be leading to insomnia. In many cases, changes in day-to-day lifestyle activities may be recommended as well as various other therapies depending on the specific type of insomnia being treated.

Plant Therapies for Insomnia Clinical Trial Synopsis 

The Swinburne University of Technology is currently recruiting participants for a 3-week randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial researching the efficacy of CBD for the treatment of insomnia. To participate in the study, you must be between the ages of 18 and 45 years old, have an insomnia Severity Index Score of 15 or higher, experience difficulties falling or staying asleep, have dissatisfaction with your current sleep patterns, and have sleep problems that are interfering with your daily life.

If you currently are unable to speak or read English, work as a shift worker, have a history of severe neurological gastrointestinal or endocrine issues or major psychiatric disorders including severe depression or anxiety, or if you are currently pregnant or lactating, you are unable to participate in this study. For a full list of inclusion as well as exclusion criteria or to register for eligibility, check out the official details of the study at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.

 

conditions-pain-banner

The Neurological Disorders Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Neurological disorders are defined as disorders that directly affect the brain and nerves throughout the body and spinal cord. According to some of the most recent statistics, it is estimated that neurological disorders affect hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. Per statistics from the World Health Organization, neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability globally. Statistics from Mind Gardens Neuroscience Network in Sydney state that in 2017, neurological disorders accounted for 37% of Australia’s entire burden of disease.

The Neurological Disorders Landscape 

Neurological disorders encapsulate diseases that affect both the brain and/or the nervous system; there are dozens of conditions within the neurological disorders landscape. Some of the most common neurological disorders that you have likely heard of include Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, dementia, epilepsy, migraines, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and vertigo.

Signs of Neurological Disorders

Each neurological disorder comes with its own unique set of symptoms and complications. However, some of the most common physical and mental signs of neurological disorders experienced by patients include the following.

  • Changes in balance or coordination
  • Changes in behavior
  • Decreased awareness of surroundings
  • Delusions
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Frequent headaches
  • Impaired vision
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Partial or complete loss of sensation in extremities
  • Poor cognitive abilities
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Unexplainable pain

When Should You Seek Help for Neurological Disorders?

If you regularly experience issues with your coordination, suffer from tremors or unintentional jerks, have unexplained memory loss, dizziness, numbness, tingling, seizures, or unexplained chronic pain, it is vital that you seek out professional help from your primary care physician or a licensed neurologist. Many neurological disorders are manageable with treatments; however, if left unaddressed, these disorders could result in severe complications and even fatality.

How Are Neurological Disorders Diagnosed?

Like many conditions, neurological disorders require a physical exam and discussion with a doctor. Additionally, tests such as CT scans, MRIs, electroencephalogram (EEGs), spinal taps, ultrasounds, and others are commonly administered to pinpoint the exact issue at hand.

The Endocannabinoid System & Neurological Disorders 

Plant therapies are believed to help regulate the body’s endocannabinoid system through CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the endogenous system. This, in return, may result in viable treatment options for a variety of disease processes, including various neurological disorders and their associated symptoms.

A 2018 study concluded that cannabinoid compounds offered benefits in a variety of ways to those with neurological disorders. This study placed emphasis on the use of CBD as a treatment option for various neurological disorders, including Dravet syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, various drug-resistant epilepsy, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, noting that CBD has been “found to be a promising compound that appears to be safe and efficacious.”

Traditional Treatments for Neurological Disorders 

The standard treatment for neurological disorders includes a wide variety of different medications and therapies. Some of the most common medications prescribed to neurological disorder patients include pain and anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, epilepsy medications, and many others that vary depending on the exact disorder and symptoms being addressed. It is also very common for patients with neurological disorders to also undergo psychotherapy, physiotherapy, and to undertake lifestyle changes, among other therapies to manage their symptoms.

Plant Therapies for Neurological Disorders – Clinical Trial Synopsis 

The stories of plant therapies providing relief from a wide variety of different neurological disorders as well as their various symptoms are abundant on the internet today. Additionally, the significant amount of research we have available to date is quite promising.

Currently, the University of Notre Dame Australia is conducting a randomised, double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled trial with eligible patients with dementia using medicinal cannabis treatments. Participants are eligible for the study if they are over the age of 65, reside within a residential aged care facility, have a diagnosis of dementia, and are displaying at least three associated behavioral symptoms, are compliant to taking medication, are not bedridden, and are able to speak English. Learn more about this registered trial here.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.