Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain
Prominent health organizations acknowledge the benefits and lack of side effects of using medical cannabis for controlling chronic pain.
There is scientific evidence that cannabinoids possess pain relieving properties, and some clinical evidence to support their medical use for patients suffering from painful conditions.
Cannabis helps cancer and HIV patients and others who suffer from the most severe cases of chronic pain. While some people can't walk without experiencing severe pain, others are unable to eat regularly due to a decreased appetite from other prescribed medications.
Cannabis helps you deal with non-stop chronic pain and function better throughout the day, increasing your quality of life
If you are suffering from chronic pain, you may experience greater relief if your doctors add cannabinoids – the main ingredient in cannabis or medical marijuana – to an opiates-only treatment.
A combined therapy of opiates and cannabis could result in reduced opiate dosages.
The number of Americans who suffer from chronic pain is approaching 80 million–more people than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, according to the National Centers for Health Statistics.
More and more influential medical associations support cannabis and its derivatives for pain management and other medical conditions because research has shown it to be effective. When examining the risks and benefits of marijuana use for pain, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Cannabis has therapeutic properties not replicated by other available medications - and side effects of cannabis are typically less severe than ones associated with common prescription medications.
Survey data indicates that the use of cannabis is common in chronic pain populations, and several recent clinical trials indicate that inhaled marijuana can significantly alleviate neuropathic pain. A pair of clinical trials recently demonstrated that smoking cannabis reduces neuropathic pain in patients with HIV by more than 30 percent compared to placebo.
In 2008 investigators at the University of California at Davis assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis on pain intensity among 38 patients with central or peripheral neuropathic pain in a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. They reported: "[C]annabis reduced pain intensity and unpleasantness equally. Thus, as with opioids, cannabis does not rely on a relaxing or tranquilizing effect, but rather reduces both the core component of nociception (nerve pain) and the emotional aspect of the pain experience to an equal degree."
Preclinical data indicates that cannabinoids, when administered in concert with one another, are more effective at ameliorating neuropathic pain than the use of a single agent. Investigators at the University of Milan reported in 2008 that the administration of single cannabinoids such as THC or CBD produce limited relief compared to the administration of plant extracts containing multiple cannabinoids, terpenes (oils), and flavonoids (pigments).
Researchers concluded: "[T]he use of a standardized extract of Cannabis sativa ... evoked a total relief of thermal hyperalgesia, in an experimental model of neuropathic pain, ... ameliorating the effect of single cannabinoids," investigators concluded. ... "Collectively, these findings strongly support the idea that the combination of cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid compounds, as present in [plant-derived] extracts, provide significant advantages in the relief of neuropathic pain compared with pure cannabinoids alone."
In 2009, an international team of investigators from the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Romania affirmed these preclinical findings in a clinical study of intractable cancer pain patients. They concluded: "[I]n this study, the THC/CBD extract showed a more promising efficacy profile than the THC extract alone. This finding is supported by evidence of additional synergy between THC and CBD. CBD may enhance the analgesic potential of THC by means of potent inverse agonism at CB2 receptors, which may produce anti-inflammatory effects, along with its ability to inhibit immune cell migration. ... These results are very encouraging and merit further study."