Article by Sheryl Ubelacker, Canadian Press
Google the word “cannabis” coupled with just about any disease — arthritis, epilepsy, even cancer — and there are all sorts of health claims made about what some have come to view as a potential wonder drug.
But fervour over what cannabis might do has run wildly ahead of what scientific studies have proven it can do, experts say.
“I think right now there’s a lot more hype than evidence and there’s a lot more enthusiasm for its widespread application than there are good trials to support such expansive use,” says Dr. Jason Busse, co-director of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“Some of the things that I’ve heard that are a little bit more worrisome are on websites from companies producing these products, making claims for almost anything and everything,” Busse says.
“There’s a lot of hyperbole out there right now and I think there’s a real risk that patients, who are desperate because of the limited options they have for their condition, are embracing very enthusiastically some of these claims.”
So what are the legitimate, science-based benefits of the cannabis plant, whose purported therapeutic properties have been extolled for millennia?
There’s strong evidence that certain cannabinoid components in marijuana can help alleviate nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, reduce muscle spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis, and help people with AIDS-related anorexia regain lost weight.