Glaucoma is a common eye condition that often causes optic nerve damage, and when left untreated, can lead to blindness. More than 60 million people live with glaucoma globally, and the disease can cause irreversible blindness. New evidence is showing that glaucoma is a neurodegenerative condition that could be linked to other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Some research is revealing that glaucoma seems to appear to be a strong forecaster of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Glaucoma, Marijuana, & CBD Oil
As marijuana use becomes more accepted and increasingly legalized, glaucoma patients frequently ask if marijuana can really treat glaucoma. We need to explain some truths and dispel some myths.
Marijuana is legal for medical use in 30 US states and for recreational use in 9 US States. It’s legal across Canada for recreational use. Despite the relaxed attitude around marijuana, it is still classified by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I controlled substance (the same category as heroin and LSD).
Does Marijuana Lower Intraocular Pressure?
Marijuana’s ability to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) was discovered in the 1970s. Elevated IOP is the major risk factor for developing glaucoma and for the progression of glaucoma. Treatment is focused solely on reducing IOP. Many have wondered whether marijuana could be used as a therapy to lower IOP and prevent glaucoma from getting worse or causing blindness.
While marijuana does lower IOP, it has major drawbacks as a treatment for a chronic, long-term disease like glaucoma:
- First, unlike glaucoma eyedrops (some of which are effective for up to 24 hours), smoking THC reduces eye pressure for only 3-4 hours. Marijuana would require 8-10 doses per day.
- This would cost more than typical glaucoma treatment
- The physical and mental side-effects of frequent marijuana use would reduce one’s productivity.
- Marijuana also impairs judgment and coordination, increases paranoia, elevates heart rate, and irritates the eyes.
Are There Long-Term Side Effects of Marijuana?
Marijuana can cause permanent lung damage when smoked and possible permanent adverse effects on cognition and mental health. With regular use, tolerance to the eye pressure-lowering effects develops, meaning that increasing drug levels would be required to prevent the progression of glaucoma. Moreover, the lack of regulation and quality control makes the efficacy and safety of marijuana unpredictable. Research efforts to develop THC eyedrops that can effectively lower eye pressure while minimizing side effects are being studied but have not yet been successful.
What About CBD (cannabidiol) Oil?
New evidence has emerged showing that parts of the cannabis plant, specifically cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating, trendy component, may actually worsen glaucoma symptoms. Researchers at Indiana University published a study in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science that shows CBD increases pressure in the eye. This is problematic, they say, considering that CBD has become such a household name in American culture that many people, some of whom may have or be at risk for glaucoma, are using it haphazardly as natural, harmless medicine. But in reality, CBD could be destroying their overall eye health.
How Can Cannabis Oil Benefit Glaucoma?
Optimal health depends on the body’s internal endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates every aspect of wellbeing: inflammation, pain regulation, neuroprotection, immune response, moods, fertility, appetite and energy levels. Cannabinoids can play a vital role in assisting the body with inflammation and neuroprotection, including treating glaucoma. There are cannabinoid receptors in the ocular tissues which manage intraocular pressure. Cannabis oils could target these tissues and help to decrease intraocular pressure and protect the retinal cells. CBD is the ideal therapy for the eyes.
Cannabis Therapy suggested treatment guidelines:
Panacea tincture for Glaucoma treatment
Panacea THC/CBD tincture and the patient can take five drops twice daily (morning and night)