The Cancer Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Cancer is a disease that has affected almost everyone in one manner or another. Cancer can be defined as a disease of the cells. Specifically, cancer is when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled manner. These cells cause damage to surrounding tissues and can spread to other parts of the body, resulting in more damage.

The Cancer Landscape 

There are over 100 various types of cancer that are commonly named after the organs or tissues in which cancer first formed. Some of the most common forms of cancer that you may have heard of include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, melanoma, lymphoma, and leukemia. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, in 2018 there were an estimated 18 million cancer cases globally. According to the Australian Cancer Council, cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia, with more than 150,000 new cases diagnosed in 2020 alone. That same year, just under 50,000 individuals in Australia lost their lives to cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

The specific signs and symptoms of cancer will vary drastically depending on the area of the body affected. In general, however, there are several common signs and symptoms of cancer that everyone should be aware of. According to Cancer Institute NSW, five of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer include the following:

  • Unusual Lumps or Swelling
  • Fever
  • Unexplained Aches and Pains
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Severe Fatigue or Extreme Tiredness

When Should You Seek Help for Cancer Symptoms? 

Health Direct suggests that if you notice any changes in suspected cancer symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. The success of treating cancer highly depends on how early it is detected. If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks or notice a sudden change in the severity of any symptoms, it is also recommended that you speak with your doctor right away.

How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

When it comes to diagnosing cancer, it can sometimes take time and several different tests to receive an accurate diagnosis. Because cancer can grow slowly, sometimes it can be present for months or years before causing any symptoms. Various tests can be utilized to diagnose cancer, depending on your specific symptoms and their location on your body. These tests include blood tests, MRI scans, ultrasounds, X-rays, and CT scans. If these tests reveal anything of concern, your doctor will likely take a small sample of the affected tissue using a procedure known as a biopsy to examine it further in a laboratory. The biopsy helps doctors learn more about the type of cancer and how aggressive it is within the body.

The Endocannabinoid System & Cancer 

Plant therapies work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to assist with many functions within our anatomy. According to the University of Newcastle, Australia, “Laboratory tests conducted at the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute have shown that a modified form of medicinal cannabis can kill or inhibit cancer cells without impacting normal cells, revealing its potential as a treatment rather than simply a relief medication.”

There have also been numerous research studies conducted around the globe that have proven cannabis’ efficacy in relieving many of the common signs and symptoms associated with cancer and cannabis is effective at relieving symptoms without the side effects of traditional treatment. In 2019, researchers at Amity University in India conducted a detailed scientific review of the literature surrounding the effects of cannabinoids on various cancer types and discovered the following.

Plant compounds such as THC and CBD can “exert potent [anti-growth] activity and activate various apoptotic mechanisms eventually leading to cell death.” This was found in studies surrounding glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Another study in their review found that when cancer cells were treated with synthetic versions of endocannabinoids, they activated receptors that killed cancer cells.

Additionally, a clinical trial researching the utilization of cannabinoid therapies in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme showed that those treated with cannabinoid therapies had a higher one-year survival rate of 83%, which is much greater than the placebo group at 53%.

Traditional Treatments for Cancer

Most commonly, cancer is fought with one or a combination of the following treatments:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Surgery to Remove Cancerous Tissue
  • Stem Cell Transplants

In addition to the therapy utilised in hopes of killing the cancerous cells and tissues, many cancer patients are also prescribed a plethora of other medications to address the side effects and symptoms of cancer and the treatments employed to fight it. These often include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to help with the mental health issues one may experience after a cancer diagnosis and while undergoing treatment, in addition to pain medications, nausea medications, and other types of medication.

Plant Therapies for CancerClinical Trial Synopsis 

The utilisation of plant therapies such as cannabis in the treatment of cancer and its various symptoms and side effects has been widely documented in anecdotal studies of success and scientific research for many years. The majority of research available today offers much hope for plant therapies in the treatment of various cancers. Currently, researchers at the University of Newcastle are recruiting patients for an interventional open-label study on the use of medicinal cannabis in advanced cancer patients. The eligibility requirements for this study include the following.

  • 18 years or older
  • A confirmed advanced cancer diagnosis
  • A predicted life expectancy of 6 to 12 months at the time of consent
  • Persistent symptoms of nausea, anorexia, or refractory pain that have not been responsive to standard treatments
  • Participants must be willing and able to comply with all requirements set forth by the study agreement
  • Any participants capable of childbearing must use adequate contraception

To learn more about the study and to register for eligibility, check out the official details in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry 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.

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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.