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Despite the lack of approval for most marijuana-based products, medical marijuana is gaining popularity as a much better pain-relieving medication. Marijuana may ease certain types of pain, for instance, pain resulting from nerve damage and inflation. There are different strains of cannabis, each with a different effect on its user. In this article, we will discuss the extensive use of medical cannabis to treat pain dispensary tale of two strains.
There are typically three species of cannabis; Cannabis Indica, which is most preferred for pain relief, sedation, and sleep; Cannabis Sativa, which is mainly preferred to improve energy and mood; and the hybrid, which is a combination of the two.
The cannabis plant has two naturally occurring cannabinoids, namely cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC). These interact with the two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, to relieve pain. The CB1 receptors are predominantly located in the central nervous system and affect a person’s pain experience. On a physiological level, they affect emotions, memory, executive function, and the reward system. Once THC is ingested, it stimulates the CB1 receptors, activating the brain’s reward system. This results in a “high”, which then alleviates the pain. The CBD, on the other hand, interacts with the CB2 receptors, mainly found in the immune cells. This stimulation activates the anti-inflammatory effect in the immune cells, thus causing pain relief without causing the “high”.
Cannabis is administered in different forms. For instance:
- CBD Oils extracted using grain alcohol. They are administered orally and in small quantities
- topical treatments like lotions, balms, and salves containing cannabinoids applied to the skin
- edibles infused in foods such as cookies, brownies, and candies
- sublingual cannabis which is placed under the tongue. In this method the drug enters the bloodstream faster, thus works more quickly.
Research Carried Out Surrounding Cannabis Use
A growing body of clinical research and a history of anecdotal evidence support the use of cannabis use to treat pain.
One study involving 47 patients with Parkinson’s disease showed a 27% improvement in pain relief with cannabis use.
Elsewhere, in another study, 40% of the patients had their migraines eased with the administration of various doses of cannabis. In addition, patients with a history of childhood migraines had relief in cluster headaches.
In another medical research involving patients with fibromyalgia, a condition in which the body has “tender” points, half the patients stopped taking any other medication, though 30% developed mild side effects.
In 2019, a study from 1000 individuals taking medical cannabis showed that, of the 65% users of cannabis for pain relief, 80% found it tremendously helpful. This resulted in 82% halting OTC pain mediation and 88% halting opioids.
Finally, in a review of 16 published studies comprising of about 1700 patients with chronic nerve pain, researchers recorded a 50% increase in the number of patients who reported pain relief.
Government Policies Surrounding Cannabis Use
Rolling a joint isn’t ideally a proper work ethic. It can be difficult to explain your medical marijuana use with family members, especially children. Recently, Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of CBD, was approved for use. The drug is only legal for patients with severe and rare forms of epilepsy involving seizures not controllable by any other drug. Moreover, Marinol and Cesamet, containing synthetic THC are legally used to reduce nausea for patients undergoing cancer treatment, and increasing appetite for people living with HIV/AIDS.
A record 34 states had legalized cannabis use to treat pain by year end 2019. This is however, under a condition of registration for patients, and presenting identification when going to purchase said drugs, for specific, diagnosed medical conditions. There could also be product testing, in order to quantify CBD and THC levels.
Side Effects Associated With Cannabis Use to treat pain
There have been reports of people experiencing some side effects with the use of cannabis. These include:
- breathing problems
- loss of concentration
- memory issues
- mental health issues
- rapid heart rate
- withdrawal problems
It is evident that, with extensive research to account for side effects, cannabis may be a favorable option for pain relief, and might even replace opioids, the current most potent pain-relieving drugs, due to their severe side effects, high addiction, and common withdrawal symptoms. However, anyone looking to explore cannabis for pain relief should discuss its risk and benefits with their doctor, to ensure they obtain the medication in the correct doses, legally and from a reputable outlet.