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Fired Arizona Professor Aims to Resume Research on Pot, PTSD

Click here for original article (Courtesy of The Daily Courier)

7/20/2014 6:00:00 AM

 Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press Small marijuana plants are kept in a continuous water bath until their roots develop.TUCSON (AP) – Veterans, medical marijuana activists and scientists welcomed the first federally approved research into pot as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

But their hopes for the research were dashed when the University of Arizona fired researcher Suzanne Sisley, who undertook the study after clearing four years of bureaucratic hurdles.

Sisley, a medical doctor who also taught and researched at the university, sought the project after years of treating military vets who told her that marijuana was the only drug that helped them improve symptoms of the disorder that affects up to 20 percent of those who served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The university said it let Sisley go on June 27. In a letter to Sisley, released Friday to The Associated Press, the university says she was fired because funding for part of the work she did with the medical school was running out and because the telemedicine program she worked with is shifting direction.

Chris Sigurdson, a spokesman for the university, said the school is committed to continuing the project and is looking to replace Sisley with another researcher who can raise more money.

Sisley says she lost the job because state legislators who opposed her work had put pressure on the university – a claim the school denies.

Her study would have measured the effects of five different potencies of smoked or vaporized marijuana in treating symptoms of PTSD in 50 veterans.

“Basically ours would have been the first and only controlled study looking at marijuana effects on PTSD. There are very few randomized control studies,” Sisley said.

Sisley says the battle is not over. She is asking the university to reinstate her. If she fails, she intends to try to get another university to take on the project.

Ricardo Pereyda, an Army veteran of the Iraq war, said the end of the study is a tremendous disservice to military vets.

Pereyda, of Tucson, said his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder – anxiety, insomnia, depression – were eased when he smoked marijuana.

“It allowed me to get some much needed rest and sleep because I was suffering from insomnia,” Pereyda said. “It reduced my anxiety attacks. It just allowed me to regain something that I had lost overseas during my deployment and allowed to me reconnect with those around me.”

Getting federal approval to research marijuana is a laborious and long process. While the federal government approves and funds many studies that look into the negative effects of cannabis, it has been reluctant to approve those that consider its positive ones.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance under the federal government’s Controlled Substance Act, meaning it is too high-risk for abuse and has no accepted medical applications.

“In regards to medical marijuana, the DEA of course recognizes the pain and suffering of individuals with serious illness and their need for medication,” DEA spokesman Matt Barden said. “However, the FDA has repeatedly concluded that marijuana has a high potential for addiction and has no acceptable level of medical use.”

Marijuana research advocates argue that if the federal government were to allow and fund medical marijuana research on a large scale, it would have the evidence it needs to reclassify the drug.

“It is unequivocally a situation you would describe as Catch-22,” said Malik Burnett of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Basically the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse tandem to put tremendous amounts of barriers to conducting cannabis research.”

 

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Finally an Agreement on Acupuncture?

I would be interested in knowing if this has helped anyone NOT involved in a study. I know a few people that have tried acupuncture with no relief whatsoever. I suppose that it is cheap enough to try and see if it works. I also wonder whether one session is enough to know whether it works. If I actually go, I will be sure to post a full review with maybe even a video of the experience!


Study Finds ‘Firm Evidence’ Acupuncture Relieves Chronic Pain
by RICHARD LENTI on OCTOBER 22, 2012

As many as 3 million Americans receive acupuncture treatments, most often for relief of chronic pain. While there appears to be little consensus in the scientific community to its value, a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that relief offered by acupuncture is very real and should be considered as a viable option by the medical community.

Focusing on patients who reported chronic back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache and shoulder pain, researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York conducted a six year, meta-analysis of data from 29 prior studies involving nearly 18,000 adults.

Study participants were randomly assigned treatment with acupuncture, standard treatments such as drugs and physical therapy, or “fake” acupuncture in which needles were inserted at points other than the traditional meridians.

Using a scale from zero to 100, the average participant’s pain measured 60. Conventional methods brought the pain down to 43, fake acupuncture brought it down to 35, and the actual acupuncture dropped pain to 30.

According to Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the lead author of the study, that means about half of the patients who got acupuncture had improvement in pain, compared with 30% who didn’t get acupuncture and 42.5% who had fake acupuncture.

“This has been a controversial subject for a long time,” Vickers told the New York Times “But when you try to answer the question the right way, as we did, you get very clear answers. We think there’s firm evidence supporting acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain.”

One limitation of the study noted by authors was that since comparisons between acupuncture and no acupuncture could not be blinded, both performance and response bias were possible.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Andrew Avins of the University of California, San Francisco pointed out that the study’s authors left themselves open to criticism by relying on fixed-effects models “that are less conservative than random-effects models and more likely to yield statistical significance.”

For him, a greater concern was the potential for skepticism generated by the study’s assertions that acupuncture works only slightly better than a placebo in treating pain. Avins worries that colleagues who don’t seriously consider acupuncture as a treatment option will continue dismiss it as nothing more than a placebo.

“At the end of the day,” says Avins, “our patients seek our help to feel better and lead longer and more enjoyable lives, Perhaps a more productive strategy at this point would be to provide whatever benefits we can for our patients, while we continue to explore more carefully all mechanisms of healing.”

Acupuncture is the insertion and stimulation of needles at specific points on the body to facilitate recovery of health. Originally developed as part of traditional Chinese medicine, some contemporary acupuncturists approach it in modern physiologic terms, helping make it one of the most widely practiced forms of alternative medicine in the country.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Pain - Chronic, Pain - Psychological

 

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