Medical marijuana got yet another celebrity endorsement: Sir Patrick Stewart, the 79-year-old English who acknowledged consuming marijuana-infused edibles daily to help ease the pain of his arthritis.
Stewart, in a powerful statement aimed at supporting a new £10 million initiative by Oxford University that aims to explore the medical benefits of marijuana in treating pain, cancer and inflammatory diseases, confessed that he uses an ointment, spray and edible marijuana products to help him reduce arthritic pain in his hands. The star of the X-Men and Star Trek films told The Telegraph:
“Two years ago, in Los Angeles, I was examined by a doctor and given a note which gave me legal permission to purchase, from a registered outlet, cannabis-based products, which I was advised might help the ortho-arthritis in both my hands. This, it would seem, is a genetically-based condition. My mother had badly distorted and painful hands. I purchased an ointment, spray and edibles. The ointment, while providing some relief from the discomfort, was too greasy to use during daytime and so I only use it at night.
“It helps with sleep as the pain was reduced. The spray, however, is much more usable and I spray my fingers and particularly my thumb joints several times a day. The spray very quickly evaporates and leaves my hands quite dry, though with a slight burning or tingling sensation, which is not unpleasant. I believe that the ointment and spray have significantly reduced the stiffness and pain in my hands. I can make fists, which was not the case before I began this treatment.
“I have had no negative side effects from this treatment and the alternative would have been to continue taking NSAID’s, Advil, Aleve and Naproxen, which are known to be harsh on the liver and to cause acid reflux.”
Stewart also called the cannabinoid biomedicine program out of Oxford University “an important step forward for Britain in a field of research that has for too long been held back by prejudice, fear and ignorance.”
Cannabis has a long history of treating pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that cannabinoids are beneficial for a range of clinical conditions, including pain, inflammation, epilepsy, sleep disorders, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, anorexia, schizophrenia and other conditions.
THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, targets the inflammation at its source by partially reducing tumor necrosis factor – the main driver in the body’s inflammatory response.
Yet, cannabis is illegal in the U.K. and it’s not recognized as having therapeutic value by the government in England and Wales. By 2040, an estimated 78 million (26%) U.S. adults aged 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Yet the use of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in only 33 U.S. states, four permanently inhabited U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.