Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Marijuana: Even Your Teeth Dislike the Smell

In a recent study by the school of dentistry at The University of Otago, New Zealand, periodontal disease was linked to over nine-hundred people who smoked marijuana at least forty times a year since they were eighteen years old. The study was published February sixth in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and can be added to the ever augmenting evidence that cannabis use is not as risk-free as it seems. There are many people who extol the numerous uses of illegal drugs for their medical benefits, as many drugs, especially marijuana, can help people in certain ways. However, research projects concerning the negative impact of illegal drugs on bodily health are a constant hindrance to anybody in support of drugs as treatments or cures. Although marijuana enthusiasts have a legitimate argument that the drug has many uses that are effective in treating certain types of medical disorders, past research and the aforementioned study clearly depict that the possible damage smoking pot can cause to the human body, particularly the mouth, if abused or overused makes treatment based on the drug very dangerous.

To understand marijuana's potential medical benefits, one must first understand how it works. Essentially, the components of the drug act as neurotransmitters, and are especially reactive to sensors in the brain that control body movement, memory, and vomiting to name a few (thus why people when under the influence of pot have decreased coordination, impaired learning, and increased hunger). By stimulating these specialized receptors, one can induce certain reactions from the body that will help treat specific disorders. For example, if a person were to undergo chemotherapy and acquire the typical side-effects of the treatment; weight loss, nausea, and pain, smoking marijuana afterwards would stimulate their appetite as well as reduce or remove the other effects. However, its beneficial qualities are not limited to just cancer patients. A 1986 study in the United States, found that after treating three patients suffering from Huntington’s disease with cannabidiol (a major chemical in marijuana) for two weeks, the spastic movements that are associated with the disease had decreased by 20% - 40%. The drug has also been proven to help people with glaucoma (by lowering the pressure in the eyeball and therefore counter acting the disease’s negative effects), as well as other very virulent diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Studies like “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base” contain even more trials and research that are evidence for the health benefits of medical marijuana, however, they fail to cite the negative effects that medical and non-medical marijuana users face.

The amount of research performed by those hoping to see the optimistic side of cannabis use is shadowed by an equal amount of projects aiming to expose marijuana as a deadly substance. Risks of smoking marijuana even as treatment for specific conditions are very large, and provide enough evidence to deem its use unsafe. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2005 44.8% of twelfth graders had smoked marijuana at least once during their lifetime. This is a scary thought considering these students probably do not suffer from a disease where marijuana use is an acceptable treatment (of course teen drug use in America is a completely different issue all together, but it begs the question of whether non-medical professionals support marijuana for its health benefits or simply because they enjoy using it). The figure is even more startling when one considers the negative side-effects marijuana can have on users. When high on marijuana, immediate effects on the body are a decrease in coordination, distorted perception, and difficulty problem solving. Imagine if a person who was under the influence of marijuana were to perform an everyday task such as driving., the drug would negatively affect that person, and make them a danger to the rest of the drivers on the road due to their inability to react or think quickly. In addition to these side-effects, marijuana also disrupts the circulatory system; blood pressure drops, and heart rate speeds up, more than quadrupling the risk of heart failure. Long term effects of the drug are even more detrimental to one’s health.

Chronic users who smoke the drug are putting themselves at the highest risk possible. Marijuana smokers essentially face the same problems that plague long-term tobacco smokers. Obstructed airways, increased phlegm production, and exposure to carcinogens are among the most prevalent. However, the most serious side-effect of the drug is that even teeth are put at risk by habitual smoking of marijuana. Periodontal disease, or the regression of one’s gum line for laymen, can lead to loss of teeth and infection in the mouth. Recent studies have linked oral health to bodily health, and even proved that bacteria in the gums and mouth can travel through the blood stream and into the heart to cause cardiovascular disease. The fact that the drug already increases the risk of heart attack is even more likely because of the negative effects it has on oral health. With enough exposure, smoking the drug can cause irreversible damage that dental professionals can not fix. As a future dentist, it is worrisome that many users do not need to smoke marijuana for its benefits and curative powers, but do anyway, and in turn put their mouth in jeopardy.

Although there are positive results from using marijuana medically, the risks one takes when using it for “recreational” purposes completely outweigh the benefits. When taken on a strict regiment created by a doctor, and in pill form, marijuana is an excellent treatment for many ailments. However when smoked, and abused whether through medical means or not, pot is dangerous and can be very detrimental to overall health. While chemotherapy is a treatment that has many side-effects, it is still in use because it is one of the only ways to combat cancer. Although one can argue that the same can be said about smoking marijuana, this is not entirely true as the medical world has developed pills and other methods to cure symptoms that marijuana can also treat. In any case, in order to maintain good dental health, smoking pot in general should be avoided because it puts teeth and the body as a whole at risk.

6 comments:

LA said...

Allow me to first commend the quality of research on the ongoing effects of marijuana. You make a great argument in stating "it begs the question of whether people support marijuana for its health benefits or simply because they like to use it;" nonetheless, as you stated, that is not the topic at hand. Also, you bring up your opinion that the medical benefits far undermine the negative effects on one's health; and while I too, to an extent, agree, it is difficult to place oneself in such a situation as those who are inflicted with diseases like MS and Alzheimer's and find therapeutic effects from this substance.

Unfortunately, research has only been able to link, but not conclusively prove, that marijuana is a detriment to one's health; but, recent research is finding incremental amounts of new evidence that can finally lay a solid medical foundation for the high health risks of marijuana (I've read some articles in abcnews.com--some including oral health issues).

Nonetheless, your blog successfully exhibits the message that drugs are detriment to one's health.

In terms of aesthetics, the colors are complementary and even though black and blue are my favorite colors, the black background may lack the authority the subject demands. If there are such things as medical colors, think about possibly changing it to one of them. The links are appropriate, and while they get the job done, aim for sources that are more authorative in the field.

Overall, great job! I look forward to reading your next blog post.

Anonymous said...

However, the study does not say that the chemical profile in cannabis is responsible. The increased incidence of periodontal disease may be attributed to amotivational factors, the actions of the user, and have nothing to do with the plant itself. Likewise, overweight people have a much higher incidence of dental pathologies.

Furthermore, multiple cannabinoids and peripheral organic components such as terpenes have strong antimicrobial properties that inhibit bacterial growth for some microorganisms. In fact, cannabinoids demonstrate antibacterial efficacy in treating killer MRSA (methicillin resistant S. aureus) infection when other antibiotics fail. The point is, there are multiple studies and many confirm certain healthful benefits of cannabis components. Smoking can lead to yellowing, but smoking is an outdated argument with the emergence and proliferation of the use of vaporizors that eliminate tars and harmful combustion products; smoking represents only a percentage of total possible routes of administration, thus studies that serve to refute cannabis' medicinal efficacy due to the harmful effects of smoking any plant, are highly limited and biased compared to practical social truths.

Also, the title isn't quite consistent with the content. What does the smell have to do with periodontal diseases? Are you referring to the smell of smoke or the smell of raw cannabis? There is significant chromatographic difference. And the word "Even" implies agreement but the agreeing party is not presented. The interpretation is therefore subjective, which has no place in scientific reporting.

Regardless of medicinal benefits or recreational preference, the bottom line is that human beings have the right to choose what they do to themselves int he privacy of their own home. If it leads to premature death, for which there is not one single documented case and cash rewards exist for proving it, then that is their prerogative.

Cannabis is SAFER than alcohol. Compare journal reports of cannabis versus alcohol and then justly explain how the more harmful, physically addictive, concentrated extract (alcohol), is legal while a naturally occurring plant, for which the human body has natural drug receptor for, is illegal.

Alcohol causes the proteins in your body to unnaturally denature (uncoil). Cannabis has no such affect. In fact, YOUR body MAKES cannabinoids. See anandamide.

One major problem we face is when people with no cannabis experience speculate and build fear in other unexperienced people. all cannabis users have experienced life both with and without cannabis. They are able to reasonably conclude the true effects. It's strange how many folks have never inhaled but present themselves as authorites ont he subject. Do you hire babysitters or plumbers with no actual experience? Do you seek education from professors that have not actually practiced? Why is residency required in order for a doctor to earn a medical degree?

To propose negative "imagine" scenarios demonstrates ignorance of the subject matter. It is hypocritical to speculate without experience and such behavior propagates half-truths into legislation.

All drugs have some potential negative effects. This includes caffeine, aspirin, ibuprofen, cannabinoids, beta-blockers, sugar, allergy medication, cough syrup, etc. To take on the debate with a poor understanding of use, pharmacology, context and harm reduction is reckless and ignorantly biased.

Did you know that sleep deprivation or stress can also "impair coordination", etc. Did you know that not exercising regularly also leads to these conditions?

Obesity should be illegal for it provides so many cultural atrocities and social drawbacks. Obesity leads to more obesity, it is a gateway condition that costs healthy people more money, inflates insurance and promotes sloth. It may be overcome by 95% of the people afflicted. why do they have so much trouble losing weight? Why is obesity legal? Aren't these people in control?

Educate.

Cannabis-Science.com

Krackonis said...

This type of work is almost hilarious. Guns, Alcohol, Governments, Steak, Eggs, Cream Cheeze and practically everything else is more dangerous.

Please show me the body count?

I can drink 4 liters of gravy legally but I can't smoke a joint?

Anonymous said...

Additionally, THC is very hard to extract in the lab and are also only fat soluble. Pill forms of cannabinoids are almost always inferior, nor do they capture the full spectrum of what this very sophisticated plant is made of.

Anonymous said...

Is this thing still on? If so, and if anybody stumbles upon this in the future, just know that it is BAD INFORMATION, presented in an authoritative way, by a college student. There are a number of unsupportable assertions, unverifiable statements, and irrational and silly arguments that do nothing to push the medical marijuana and cannabis conversation forward. I hope you will see through the plain errors in this blog to look for some reliable information elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Smoke em if u got em

 
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