Marijuana for Pain — Does it Provide Enough Relief?
Why use marijuana for pain when you can simply pop an over-the-counter painkiller, right?
While these OTC painkillers can take the edge off your pain, you should know that long-term use can cause more harm than good. Take ibuprofen, for example. Did you know that this seemingly harmless medicine can actually increase health risks? In fact, studies have shown that it can cause gastrointestinal problems like bleeding. It also increases the risk of heart problems.
OTC painkillers are also sometimes not enough to control pain. You will need stronger drugs to control it. But prescription painkillers have undesirable side effects, too. They can also be pretty addictive, which makes you vulnerable to a host of new problems.
Fortunately, the legalization of medical marijuana for pain has given patients an alternative to conventional and prescription painkillers.
But is marijuana for pain really effective? Can it offer the same pain relief compared to conventional and prescription painkillers?
How Does Marijuana For Pain Works?
What’s fascinating about cannabis is that it works on several areas to achieve pain control. The cannabinoids activate the endocannabinoid systems found in the pain centers of the central and peripheral nervous systems. CBD, the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, also stimulates non-cannabinoid receptors that function as a pain modulator. They also improve the levels of our endogenous cannabinoids, so they can activate more endocannabinoid systems.
Additionally, cannabis also has potent anti-inflammatory properties. While inflammation is an important protective mechanism, studies have shown that chronic inflammation can actually be detrimental and increase pain. It can also contribute to the development of medical conditions as well as worsen chronic diseases and illnesses. With cannabis reducing and controlling inflammation, pain is reduced.
Notable Studies on Marijuana for Pain
Several studies have already been done on marijuana for pain. One study, in particular, involved a large group of 125 patients suffering from neuropathic pain. The participants were grouped into two. One group received a combination of CBD and THC treatment, while the other received placebo. Those who received CBD/THC treatment reported significant improvement in their pain symptoms. They also tolerated the treatment well, with no significant toxicity.
Another study involved 177 patients with cancer pain. Those who received THC/CBD treatment showed marked improvement in their pain levels, compared to those who received placebo treatment. They also tolerated the treatment regimen very well.
Can Cannabis Replace Prescription Painkillers?
Countless patients do get relief from marijuana for pain. Can it be said that it can replace prescription drugs like opioid painkillers or that it is a safer alternative? Here’s what two studies have to say.
The first study involved 2,774 individuals living in a medical cannabis state. They were asked to fill in an online anonymous survey on the effects of cannabis substitution. Of these numbers, 1,248 admitted that they have substituted prescription drugs with cannabis. The study also revealed that the most common prescription drugs substituted for cannabis are narcotics or opioid-based painkillers, making up 35.8%.
A Canadian survey also showed almost similar findings. Of their 473 respondents using medical cannabis, 80.3% reported that they have replaced their prescription drugs with cannabis. When asked for their reasons for substitution, they reported significant pain control and fewer side effects.
These clearly show that cannabis is a safe and effective agent for pain control.