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Cannabis & Chronic Pain


A recent study called “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids” by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers an extensive look into the therapeutic effects of marijuana on several conditions.

As one of the most widespread and common issues in the United States, chronic pain is the number one cause of long-term disability. Chronic pain ails more people than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease each year. The most substantial evidence of the research report shows that cannabis is commonly requested and effective for chronic pain. In this study, there was a significant decrease in pain when adults were treated with cannabis. While solid scientific evidence is still inconclusive, a series of online consumer polls show that indica are most commonly used for loss of sleep & pain management, while sativa strains can help more with joint pain & spasms. Both indica and sativa strains help reduce nausea, but indica strains are more likely to trigger a healthy appetite.

For patients with cancer, oral cannabinoids were effective in reducing chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. This study also showed there is some evidence that suggests that smoking does not increase the risk of certain cancers, like lung, head, and neck. However, there was a strong correlation between regular usage of cannabis and chronic cough and phlegm production. Similarly, limiting the inhalation of cannabis is most likely going to help reduce cough and phlegm. There was not enough evidence to show whether or not cannabis compromises lung function or can cause asthma.

For those that suffer from sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis, there is decent evidence that cannabis can improve short-term sleep disturbances. Other parts of the study show some evidence that symptoms of Tourettes, anxiety, PTSD, and HIV/AIDS can be reduced by cannabinoid consumption.

Many new studies are beginning to examine the efficacy of the type of ingestion for various illnesses and symptoms. For example, a full extract cannabis oil and edibles can be taken orally. While this reduces the need to smoke, the exact dosage is hard to control as there can be THC and CBD loss through the normal heating and digestive processes of the body. Each person will metabolize and respond differently to ingesting cannabis. Topical treatments, like lotions, balms, and salves are often used to help reduce symptoms of inflammation by applying directly to the affected area. Sublingual cannabis is the fastest way to get cannabinoids in the bloodstream, as the drops under the tongue are almost immediately absorbed.

One consumer survey addressed opioids in relation to cannabis consumption. Up to 97% agreed that while taking cannabis, consumers could reduce the amount of opioids they were using for pain relief. Upwards of 80% of those polled agreed that cannabis was more effective alone than when paired with opioids.

While many of these early reports rely on consumer surveys, future studies will most likely show stronger correlations between pain relief and cannabis consumption, and hopefully a reduction in opioid usage. There is currently only one or two FDA regulated medications that are meant to mimic cannabis, cannabis is not currently recognized by the FDA as a “medicine”. However, we believe it’s only a matter of time!

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