Gov. Bevin to Ceremonially Sign Legislation to Combat Opioid Epidemic Tomorrow

U.S. Marijuana Party Kentucky

Kentucky United We Stand, Divided We Fall

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 14, 2017) – Gov. Matt Bevin will be joined by state legislators in Frankfort on Tuesday, as he ceremonially signs three recently enacted measures aimed at combatting Kentucky’s opioid epidemic.

House Bill 333, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, prevents physicians from prescribing more than a three-day supply of opioid painkillers (with some exceptions) and increases penalties for trafficking in fentanyl, carfentanil or fentanyl derivatives.

House Bills 314 and 364, both sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, seek to reduce overdose deaths by strengthening regulations and information sharing capabilities for pharmacies within the Commonwealth.

This event will be live-streamed on Gov. Bevin’s Facebook page.


Governor Matt Bevin
State Legislators


Ceremonial Signings – HB 333, 314 and 364


Tuesday, Aug. 15
2:30 p.m. (EDT)


State Capitol Rotunda
700 Capital Avenue
Frankfort, Kentucky


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President Donald Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. It is estimated that nearly three million Americans are currently addicted to opioids. A report released by the White House stated, “the opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled. The average American would likely be shocked to know that drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined.” But there is evidence that CBD for opiate withdrawal can help with this health crisis.


With the opioid crisis at such a deadly climax, it is clear that important steps must be taken to help curb opioid addiction. Preventative care to dissuade people from becoming addicted to opiates is the logical first step. However, helping current users recover from their addiction cannot be neglected. Recent research seems to suggest that both THC and CBD – which are the most prominent active compounds found in cannabis – can help addicts recover from their opiate withdrawal symptoms.


There is still limited evidence to definitively suggest that cannabis can help people recover from opioid addiction. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t promising data that CBD for opiate withdrawal can be a viable treatment, In fact, a study conducted in 2014 found that states with medical marijuana laws had addiction rates that were 25% lower than states where cannabis was illegal. While THC and its pain-relieving properties can be useful for some people battling opioid addiction, it is CBD that may help treat the aggressive withdrawal symptoms.


CBD is non-psychoactive, which opioid addicts would find more desirable than THC. CBD will not give an individual a high. However, CBD does have anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic and neuroprotective qualities which greatly help aid in the recovery process. CBD will help limit depression and hallucinations that the patients may experience during opioid withdrawal.

More research is needed to determine which ratio of CBD/THC works best in addiction recovery. What we do know is that current scientific and anecdotal evidence proves combining these two cannabis compounds may be useful alternative to slowing down the opioid crisis in America.



In what is seen as an alarming wake-up call, prescription drug overdose deaths among women in the United States have QUINTUPLED – or have become five times as common since 1999.

By Catholic Online

Prescription pain pill addiction in the U.S. became a national epidemic among workers doing backbreaking labor in the coal mines and factories of Appalachia.

Today, the typical death from prescription drugs in the U.S. is women who are abusing pain medications.

Deaths from such overdoses have now overtaken cervical cancer and murder as a cause of death in U.S. women.

Some women are blaming the changing nature of American society.

The rise of the single-parent household has thrust immense responsibilities on women, who are not only mothers but the primary breadwinners.

Some women described feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities that they craved the numbness that drugs bring.

“I thought I was supermom,” one 42-year-old recovering addict. “I took one kid to football, the other to baseball. I went to work. I washed the car. I cleaned the house. I didn’t even know I had a problem.”

For years, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. were seen as mostly an urban problem that hit blacks the hardest. Opioid abuse, which exploded in the 1990s and 2000s and included drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet, has been worst among whites, often in rural places.

The Centers for Disease Control analysis found that the overdose death rate for blacks in 2010, the most recent year for which there was final data, was less than half the rate for whites. Asians and Hispanics had the lowest rates.

One surprising statistic found was the while younger women in their 20s and 30s tend to have the highest rates of opioid abuse, the overdose death rate was highest among women ages 45 to 54, a finding that surprised clinicians.

Findings indicate that at least some portion of the drugs may have been prescribed appropriately for pain, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says.

If death rates were driven purely by abuse, then one would expect the death rates to be highest among younger women who are the biggest abusers.

C.D.C. Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said the problem had gone virtually unrecognized.

The study offered several theories for the increase. Women are more likely than men to be prescribed pain drugs, to abuse them chronically as well as get prescriptions for higher doses.

The study’s authors hypothesized that it might be because the most common forms of chronic pain, like fibromyalgia, are more common in women. A woman typically also has less body mass than a man, making it easier to overdose.

In addition, women are also more likely to be given prescriptions of psychotherapeutic drugs, like antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, Volkow says.

That is significant because people who overdose are much more likely to have been taking a combination of those drugs and pain medication.




The number of overdose deaths involving opiates and heroin has almost doubled around the country since the year 2000. In 2014, 547 New Mexicans died of a drug overdose. Drug overdoses killed more New Mexicans than firearms, motor vehicle crashes, and falls combined. This statistics have New Mexico policy makers asking for marijuana to fight the opioid epidemic.

Pain specialists, people recovering from addiction, community members, and drug policy reformers came together to call for the allowance of medical cannabis to treat addiction.

“I am trying to save my hometown and my state with something that works,” said Anita Briscoe, M.S., A.P.R.N.-B.C, “As a medical practitioner I’ve seen evidence over the years of medical cannabis working to help people stop or reduce opioid use. We have to make this option accessible to prevent needless deaths and patient suffering. Our communities are broken and in desperate need responsible solutions.”

In the midst of the opioid crisis, lawmakers have been trying to find an alternative solution that treats drug use as a public health issue. The laws and policies in New Mexico remain on criminalization of drug offenses, and deaths from opioid related drug overdoses have not fallen. Research has shown that medical marijuana is not only an effective pain treatment, and it can lower the amount of opioids people take.


Statistics have shown that States with medical marijuana as an option have a significant reduction in mortality from opioid abuse. There was a  25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths, resulting in 1,700 fewer deaths in 2010 alone. Similarly, another recent report by Castlight Health, found almost double the occurrence of opioid abuse in states that did have legal medical marijuana. Specifically, in those states, 5.4 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription qualified as abusers of the drug, whereas only half or 2.8 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription living in medical marijuana states qualified as opioid abusers. Used in combination with opioid pain medications, marijuana can lower opioid side-effects, cravings and withdrawal severity as well as enhance the pain relieving effects of opioids, thereby allowing for lower doses and less risk of overdose.

From Castlight Health

“The bottom line is making medical cannabis accessible to New Mexicans who are dependent on opioids for pain management or who are struggling with opioid or heroin use will save lives,” says policy coordinator Jessica Gelay.


“Cannabis and cannabis-derived products have been found to be safe and effective for treating certain types of chronic pain conditions, with over 9,000 patient/years of data from modern clinical studies in existence (Russo & Hohmann, 2012). A lethal toxic overdose of cannabis has never been documented because, unlike opioids, cannabis derived compounds, such as THC, do not depress respiration due to sparse receptor density in medullary centers ofthehumanbrain(Glass,Dragunow,&Faull, 1997; Herkenham et al., 1990). Furthermore, lifetime use is not significantly associated with increased morbidity, brain damage, or cerebral atrophy (Karst et al., 2003, Weiland et al., 2015, Russo et al. 2002).

Researchers have found that THC works in concert with opioid-based painkillers, to increase their combined effectiveness, particularly in cases of neuropathic pain. In addition to enhancing the pain relieving effects of opioids, THC also serves to lower the dose of an opioid necessary for relief thus minimizing the inherent risks of opioid use (Abrams, et al., 2011; Abrams et al., 2007, Desroches & Beaulieu, 2010; Lucas 2012; Wallace et al., 2007; Welch & Eads, 1999). Research in animals has also demonstrated that the addition of cannabinoids to opioids enhances analgesic efficacy, helps diminish the likelihood of the development of opioid tolerance, and can prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms (Morel et al., 2009).

Data gathered from states that have medical cannabis programs has shown a 24.8% reduction in deaths attributed to opioid- related overdose compared to states without programs (Bachhuber, Saloner, Cunningham, & Barry, 2014). Examination of the association between state medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in each year after implementation of the program showed that such laws were associated with a lower rate of overdose mortality that generally strengthened over time.” Safe Access Now

Learn more about Opioids and Medical Marijuana with our 100% Online Pain Management Course

Sources: Drug policy Alliance

Isolato nell’intestino un batterio che ‘cura’ la sclerosi multipla

Scoperto un tipo di batterio della flora intestinale che potrebbe essere usato come terapia contro la sclerosi multipla, avviando la medicina verso una nuova era di “farma-microbi”, ovvero microrganismi usati come farmaci per curare malattie tra le più disparate, dall’autismo al Parkinson.
È il risultato di una ricerca condotta tra Università dell’Iowa e Mayo Clinic e pubblicata sulla rivista Cell Reports.

Isolato nell'intestino batterio che 'cura' sclerosi multipla © Ansa

Si tratta di una ricerca potenzialmente importante, perché sempre di più aumentano le evidenze sperimentali che dimostrano come i batteri che compongono la flora intestinale siano cruciali non solo per la salute del tratto digerente ma anche di tutto il resto dell’organismo: “Stiamo entrando in una nuova era della medicina – afferma l’autore del lavoro Joseph Murray – in cui useremo i microbi come farmaci per curare malattie (Murray ha coniato il farmaco ‘brug’ dall’unione di ‘bug’, microbo, e drug, farmaco).
Il batterio protagonista di questo studio si chiama Prevotella histicola, gli esperti lo hanno isolato da campioni di flora intestinale prelevati dall’intestino di soggetti sani e lo hanno iniettato in modelli animali di sclerosi multipla.

Grazie a questa ‘terapia’, il quadro neurologico dei topolini malati è migliorato e allo stesso tempo è diminuita nel loro organismo la concentrazione di due proteine che causano infiammazione ed aumenta la concentrazione di cellule che contrastano la malattia, cellule immunitarie come i linfociti T, ‘cellule dendritiche’ e un tipo di ‘macrofago’. Gli esperti ritengono che questi risultati siano il punto di partenza per testare il batterio su pazienti con sclerosi multipla, una malattia autoimmune in cui il sistema immunitario del paziente va in tilt e distrugge la guaina isolante dei nervi, la mielina, determinando danni neurologici progressivi.
Studi recenti hanno evidenziato che pazienti con sclerosi multipla presentano alterazioni della flora intestinale e, guarda caso, sono carenti o privi del batterio Prevotella histicola.

Israel Approves MMJ Export Plan

Israeli Finance and Health ministers have approved a plan allowing medical cannabis to be exported from the country in a move that is estimated to bring in between NIS 1 billion ($279 million) to NIS 4 billion ($1.1 billion) in revenues, the Jerusalem Post reports. Exported products will include all forms of medical cannabis produced in Israel and so far more than 500 farmers have applied for an export license.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said the plan represents “significant economic potential” for the country “and will strengthen Israeli agriculture in general and agriculture in the Arava region in particular.”

“It will serve as an opportunity for the country to exploit its relative advantage in developing medical products from medical cannabis,” he said in the report.

Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who opposes the exportation plan, said he agreed to the request due to “international interest in Israeli medical cannabis” adding that officials “will ensure” that the health sector benefits from the state revenue increases.

The system includes several restrictions – the exports will be closely monitored by the state; exports will only be allowed to nations that have medical cannabis regimes that explicitly allow imports from Israel, and farmers must obtain a license from the Health Ministry to cultivate and export medical cannabis products.

Currently, there are eight licensed growers in Israel who produce about 10 tons per year.



Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary sells out in days

The state’s only licensed lab is the bottleneck

By The Associated Press

WAILUKU, Hawaii — Less than a week after it opened, Maui’s first state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary is reworking its opening hours as demand for its product outstrips supply because of a backlog.

Maui Grown Therapies says it had expected its most recent batch of flowers to clear state lab certification by Saturday, but that didn’t happen, The Maui News reported. Company officials said it sold out its first batch of certified flowers Saturday.

Maui Grown Therapies opened for business Tuesday. Company officials say the dispensary could only sell flowers — resulting in depleted flower stocks on Maui and “disappointed patients.”

The company said it needs the Department of Health’s State Labs Division “to help unclog a backlog of products so Maui patients can have access to quality-assured medicinal cannabis products.”

“It’s unfortunate that an administrative hindrance of this magnitude prevents patients from getting the help they need,” said Christopher Cole, director of product management for Maui Grown Therapies. “We had planned to open with a full range of derivative products such as concentrates, oils, capsules and topical products, but at the eleventh hour we discovered that the State Labs Division had failed to certify a lab to conduct testing of manufactured products.”

State offices were closed Saturday, and state Health Department officials could not be reached for comment.

“We could serve thousands of patients with the amount of manufactured product we currently have available for final compliance testing,” Cole said. “Even though we were approved by the Department of Health on May 24 to manufacture cannabis products, the restrictions placed on the state’s only licensed lab have prevented us from offering these products to our patients — and it is entirely unclear to us when this will change.”

The dispensary’s initial posted hours were 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Dispensary hours have been changed to noon to 6 p.m. until further notice.

Le mafie tagliano la cannabis in modo sempre più nocivo (e ringraziano il proibizionismo)

Non solo lana di vetro, lacca per capelli o metadone, nella cannabis prodotta dalla malavita organizzata potrebbe esserci anche l‘acido delle batterie per auto, sostanza che se inalata ha effetti nocivi pesantissimi. A confermare una eventualità della quale si vocifera da tempo sono state fonti investigative campane raccolte dal Fatto Quotidiano.

Le sostanze da taglio verrebbero inserite per due ordini di ragioni: alcune, come la lacca, semplicemente al fine di aumentare il peso dell’erba (e quindi il suo valore), altre come il metadone anche per aumentare gli effetti della cannabis, provocando assuefazione nei clienti che le centrali dello spaccio vogliono fidelizzare.

Il problema è che non c’è uno straccio di analisi attendibile. Non un laboratorio pubblico che analizzi la composizione della cannabis sequestrata per mettere in guardia i consumatori, non un servizio dove (come avviene in altri paesi) lo stesso acquirente possa fare analizzare la sostanza acquistata per sapere se è tagliata con sostanze nocive.

Questa sarebbe vera “riduzione del danno”. Ma in Italia vige ancora il proibizionismo più bieco ed oscurantista: “se fumi la droga devi accettare che ti puoi far male e noi non ti aiuteremo di certo a fartene di meno”, è più o meno il discorso tipico che regola la prevenzione in questo paese.

Per questo è impossibile sapere con certezza quali siano le sostanze da taglio contenute. Occorre affidarsi ai dispacci diffusi dalle forze dell’ordine, non nuove a confezionare bufale clamorose, o agli articoli troppo spesso sensazionalisti dei giornali, che ancora confondono la cannabis nociva della malavita con l’Amnesia Haze, una varietà di cannabis olandese che non ha nulla a che vedere con queste dinamiche.

Sull’esistenza di nuovi tagli sempre più nocivi esistono comunque ormai una quantità di informazioni che ci inducono a credere che qualcosa di vero ci sia, e non sia solo allarmismo: non solo le testimonianze dirette di alcuni ragazzi raccolte dal quotidiano Il Mattino di Napoli (sulla cui veridicità piena è sempre bene conversare una parte di scetticismo), ma anche le dichiarazioni di operatori deiSert che hanno dichiarato di aver rintracciato tracce di metadone in ragazzi che fumavano solo droghe leggere e delle analisi di laboratorio condotte in Svizzera che hanno rivelato tagli nocivi nella cannabis.

Ad ogni modo siamo di fronte a un’ulteriore prova di come il proibizionismo della cannabis nuoce innanzitutto alla salute pubblica, vietando l’autocoltivazione ed imponendo ai consumatori di rivolgersi al mercato illegale, acquistando erba potenzialmente nociva e priva di ogni controllo.

I rischi sanitari della cannabis risiedono nelle sostanze chimiche con cui è tagliata, in misura enormemente maggiore rispetto ai trascurabili rischi insiti nel Thc. Solo la legalizzazione dell’autoproduzione può permettere ad ogni consumatore di cannabis di porsi al riparo dai pericoli per la salute.

Could Trump’s declaration of opioids as national emergency be used for Sessions’ war on drugs?

“We need to be cautious about the intentions of this administration,” said Grant Smith of the Drug Policy Alliance

By Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he considers the opioid crisis to be “a national emergency,” starting a process aimed at giving the federal and state governments more resources and flexibility to deal with the epidemic.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

The president did not offer details of what his emergency declaration would entail, and he said his administration is working on the paperwork needed for the emergency declaration to take effect.

From a strictly practical standpoint the emergency declaration would have two main effects, according to Keith Humphreys, an addiction specialist at Stanford University (and frequent Wonkblog contributor) who worked in the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Barack Obama.

“First, it lets states and localities that are designated disaster zones to access money in the federal Disaster Relief Fund, just like they could if they had a tornado or hurricane,” Humphreys said. States and cities would be able to request disaster zone declarations from the White House, which would enable them to use federal funds for drug treatment, overdose-reversal medication and more.

“Second, declaring an emergency allows temporary waivers of many rules regarding federal programs,” Humphreys said. “For example, currently Medicaid can’t reimburse drug treatment in large residential facilities (16 or more beds). That could be waived in an emergency.”

Trump’s opioid commission recommended he make the emergency declaration, but his statement Thursday was an abrupt reversal from 48 hours ago, when Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, after meeting with President Trump, said at a press briefing that such a declaration was unnecessary. He added, however, that all options including a declaration of emergency were still on the table.

Groups advocating for a public health-centered approach to the epidemic are worried about what powers an emergency declaration would grant an administration with a fondness for “tough on crime” law enforcement tactics.

“We need to be cautious about the intentions of this administration,” said Grant Smith of the Drug Policy Alliance. “An emergency declaration can be used for good. It can help free up federal resources, help prioritize responses by the federal gov, help give the administration leverage to request legislation from Congress.”

On the other hand, Smith said, “all of those things I just mentioned could be used to further the war on drugs. It could give the administration leverage to push for new sentencing legislation. Or legislation that enhances [drug] penalties or law enforcement response. It could give [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions more leverage to push the agenda that he has been pushing.”

Humphreys points out that Congress could have addressed any of these issues legislatively in recent years, and it could have allocated billions in funding for the opioid crisis as well. But, he said, “the reality is that they have spent this entire year trying to cut spending on the opioid epidemic” via drastic cuts to Medicaid contained within the various GOP-supported Obamacare repeal bills that nearly became law.

In 2016 Congress did approve $1 billion in funding over two years for state grants to fight the opiate epidemic as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. But the epidemic shows no sign of relenting. The latest federal estimates released this week suggest the pace of drug overdose deaths accelerated last year.

HEALTH Feds to Study Medical Marijuana’s Effect on Opioid Use

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded a five-year, $3.8 million grant to researchers for the first long-term investigation to see if medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain.


The study will use real medical cannabis from New York dispensaries, not low-quality NIDA product.

The federal grant, given to scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, could provide peer-reviewed evidence of the widespread but anecdotal phenomenon of chronic pain patients stepping down from opioid use to a safer reliance on medical cannabis to manage and alleviate their pain. Notably, the study will use real medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries in New York State, not the lower-quality “research grade” cannabis grown by federal contractors in Mississippi.

How Cannabis Could Turn the Opioid Epidemic Around 

Over 18 months, the study subjects will complete web-based questionnaires every two weeks, which will focus on pain levels and the medical and illicit use of marijuana and opioids. They’ll also provide urine and blood samples at in-person research visits every three months. In addition, in-depth interviews with a select group of these participants will explore their perceptions of how medical marijuana use affects the use of opioids.
Compared to the general population, chronic pain and opioid use is even more common in people with HIV. Between 25 and 90 percent of adults with HIV suffer from chronic pain. Previous studies have reported that despite the high risk for misuse of opioid pain relievers, adults with HIV are likely to receive opioids to help manage their pain. In recent years, medical marijuana has gained recognition as a treatment option. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized its use; in those states, chronic pain and/or HIV/AIDS are qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use.

Medical vs. Adult-Use Budtenders: What’s the Difference?

Researchers have never studied—in any population—if the use of medical marijuana over time reduces the use of opioids. Additionally, there are no studies on how the specific chemical compounds of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), affect health outcomes, like pain, function, and quality of life. Most studies that have reported negative effects of long-term marijuana use have focused on illicit, rather than medical, marijuana.
“As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective healthcare practices and public policies,” Cunningham said.

Leafly Staff

La sclerosi multipla nasce nell’intestino, nuova pista italiana

Gli scienziati del San Raffaele di Milano svelano un possibile ruolo chiave della flora batterica


Gli autori della scoperta Ilaria Coscorich, Marika Falcone e Vittorio Martinelli

La sclerosi multipla potrebbe nascere nell’intestino. A indicare la nuova ‘pista’ è uno studio dell’Irccs ospedale San Raffaele di Milano, che svela un possibile ruolo chiave del microbiota nell’origine della malattia neurologica. Il lavoro, finanziato dall’Aism (Associazione italiana sclerosi multipla) e dalla sua Fondazione Fism, è pubblicato su ‘Science Advances’ e ha scoperto un legame tra l’anomalia della flora batterica intestinale, l’attività del sistema immunitario e l’andamento della patologia.

“Nell’intestino dei pazienti colpiti da sclerosi multipla recidivante-remittente”, la forma che alterna crisi e recuperi, “durante le fasi che precedono la riattivazione della malattia si osserva un’alterazione del microbiota e la corrispondente proliferazione di un tipo di globuli bianchi considerati fondamentali nello sviluppo della patologia”, riassumono dall’Istituto del gruppo ospedaliero San Donato.

Lo studio è coordinato da Marika Falcone, ricercatrice della Divisione di immunologia, trapianti e malattie infettive del San Raffaele, e Vittorio Martinelli, neurologo del Centro sclerosi multipla diretto da Giancarlo Comi. “I risultati, che dovranno ulteriormente essere confermati da studi futuri – precisano gli autori – supportano l’ipotesi di un ruolo importante dell’intestino nell’evoluzione della malattia: secondo questa teoria, l’attivazione patologica delle cellule del sistema immunitario avviene principalmente nell’intestino, meccanismo già provato nel caso dell’Encefalite autoimmune sperimentale (Eae), il modello sperimentale della sclerosi multipla”.

I ricercatori di via Olgettina hanno analizzato i tessuti dell’intestino di 19 malati di sclerosi multipla recidivante-remittente e di 18 persone sane. Il primo gruppo, a distanza di 2 anni dalla raccolta dei campioni, è stato ulteriormente diviso in 2 sottogruppi: pazienti con malattia in fase attiva e pazienti in fase di remissione. L’analisi ha permesso di censire le popolazioni di batteri e di cellule del sistema immunitario presenti a livello intestinale e di mettere in relazione questi dati con lo stato di attività della malattia.

Nell’intestino dei pazienti con malattia in fase attiva si è così osservata una quantità aumentata di un particolare tipo di linfociti T, i TH17, noti per essere “le prime cellule del sistema immunitario a superare la barriera ematoencefalica e a raggiungere il sistema nervoso centrale, contribuendo al danno del rivestimento mielinico”, sottolinea Falcone. Siccome poi “una molecola da loro prodotta, l’interleuchina-17 (IL-17), è presente in alte dosi nelle lesioni cerebrali tipiche della malattia”, i linfociti TH17 sono fra le cellule immunitarie più fortemente indiziate come responsabili della sclerosi multipla.

Successivamente gli scienziati hanno cercato di capire se l’espansione di linfociti TH17 nell’intestino dei pazienti con sclerosi multipla fosse associata a uno squilibrio delle popolazioni batteriche che normalmente lo abitano. Microrganismi che regolano numerose attività del nostro organismo, tra cui proprio il funzionamento del sistema immunitario. Ebbene, i ricercatori hanno evidenziato che nei pazienti con malattia attiva, con ricadute cliniche o documentate dalla risonanza magnetica, c’erano “due vistose anomalie: una quantità ridotta di Prevotella, batterio che riduce il differenziamento dei linfociti in cellule TH17, e l’aumento di due ceppi di Streptococco (oralis e mitis) che solitamente risiedono nella cavità orale e hanno notevoli capacità infiammatorie”.

“I risultati del nostro studio suggeriscono un ruolo importante della flora batterica intestinale nella patogenesi della sclerosi multipla recidivante-remittente”, afferma Falcone. “Ciò non deve stupire”, aggiunge, perché “le popolazioni batteriche che vivono nel nostro intestino interagiscono continuamente con il sistema immunitario. L’alterazione del loro equilibrio favorisce uno squilibrio immunologico a livello intestinale ma anche sistemico, con conseguenze importanti nel campo di tutte le malattie immuno-mediate, e in particolare delle patologie autoimmuni come la sclerosi multipla o il diabete di tipo 1”.

“Lo studio sulle possibili relazioni tra microbiota e sclerosi multipla, campo nuovo ma in rapida espansione – commenta Martinelli – non è importante solo per la comprensione dei meccanismi patogenetici della sclerosi multipla, ma potrebbe anche avere un ruolo nel decorso della malattia e nella risposta ai trattamenti”.