The Truth about Chronic Pain Relief and Cannabis

SantoshJanuary 30, 2018

What you should know about Marijuana and Pain

Introduction:

Today, there is a dark, and evil enemy that lurks among as many individual Americans. It is unseen, and often unheard, but it can be deadly all the same. Chronic Pain affects more and more people every year here in the United States, setting a dangerous precedent. With over 100 million people suffering from chronic pain in the U.S alone according to the NIH, something must be done, and many companies, organizations as well as individuals are pouring billions of dollars in advanced research into new drugs and procedures. Often these medications can cause more problems than they solve, and such operations can be dangerous and life-threatening. But there is something else out there, something far older and more natural that might help pave the way forward for those suffering from chronic pain. In fact, it is already known to us to have been used for millennia by our ancestors for just this purpose. We are of course referring to the cannabis plant, or marijuana. For thousands of years, and probably far longer, our ancestors have been using marijuana in an attempt to alleviate a host of health problems, not least of all chronic pain caused by a variety of reasons. We have evidence of this dating back all the way to ancient China, and India, to the Steppes of Mongolia and far beyond into Europe and Scandinavia. Our history is entwined with cannabis and for a good reason. In the darkness of chronic pain, marijuana has been and continues to be the glowing light of hope for sufferers. But today, cannabis is one of the most controversial plants around, and in many places, its use and possession will land you in prison, so what are patients to do? Is there a future of medical cannabis? Why does the government view cannabis in such a negative light? Is there evidence that supports what so many chronic pain sufferers have experience? Today we will be exploring these questions, finding out the truth about chronic pain relief and cannabis. Let’s get started!

Chronic Pain and How it’s Treated:

There are many causes of chronic pain, some more serious than others, and some causing pain more debilitating than others. What is important, is how the individual can cope with said pain, and how they experience it. Often chronic pain can cause various physical health problem, and despite what many people might think; mental as well. Chronic pain sufferers are more stressed, tend to be less healthy, and have more difficulty with day to day life depending on the condition at hand. To go with this, many of the treatments for various conditions can cause problems of their own. Medications and dangerous surgeries all have their risks, and most of all opiate painkillers cause absorbent rates of addiction and overdose. According to the CDC, there has been a trifold increase in the rate of opioid-related deaths between 2002, and 2015, with over a staggering 30,000 deaths. Keep in mind; this is opiates alone, and not illicit drugs, or other prescriptions. This number is going to keep rising until something is done to counteract it, and cannabis may be the key, but we will discuss that a little later on. Aside from medications, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and often painful operations are all done in an attempt to curb the effects of the pain. This can sadly just lead to more problems than the person even started with! The world of chronic pain is a dark and dreary one, but it does not have to be! Cannabis seems to offer a solution beyond what most people would think, and so far many studies show that it can be quite effective in alleviating many types of chronic pains! But we will go over that in the next section. Life with chronic pain can be very difficult.  It’s important for those suffering through it to always remember that things get better and that there is hope, be it from cannabis or something else. Now, let’s explore just how cannabis can affect those with chronic pain, and why you might want to consider it if you find yourself in a similar boat!

Cannabis for Chronic Pain:

Using cannabis for pain management is nothing new, in fact, it is quite an old method of controlling chronic pains. For thousands of years our ancestors have been using cannabis as a medicinal herb, and these days we have the scientific know how to back it up. Various studies have been conducted on the effects that THC, CBD, and cannabis have in general. While many such studies are still preliminary and are inconclusive, the evidence leans towards backing up the idea that cannabis is a great tool to treat many types of pains, from neuropathic, to inflammatory. According to many patients, cannabis can help with controlling their pain levels, and studies from the NIH, as well as those published in NCBI, back up the idea that cannabis can help alleviate pain, not only that but in many cases, CBD can help the underlying condition causing the pain. As to the effects of CBD, we will have to leave that for another article. What is important to know, is that it is CBD, where many if not most of the medical benefits of cannabis lay. Including its pain-fighting effects. The way in which these special cannabinoids interacts with our system, specifically the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for homeostasis, that creates the many health benefits we can accumulate from this herb, including its power to fight chronic pain. One of the many reasons that patients suffering from chronic pain will choose cannabis over other pain medications, is due to its lack of negative effects. Many opioids and other drugs carry negative effects with them, over a lifetime some of them can cause more damage than the ailments they are being taken for. It is this reason that so many people are turning to the benefits of cannabis, over more traditional western medicines. In fact, according to a study published in NCBI, as of 2012, 5% of Californias population alone, used medical cannabis, and most of them felt that it helped them more than anything else they were trying. Cannabis has a great deal of potential when it comes to helping those with chronic pain, especially when compared to what happens when opiates are in the picture.

Cannabis vs. Opiates:

When it comes to pain management, options are often the go-to option, or at least they used to be. Today, however, we know how dangerous long-term opiate use can be. Addiction comes easily with opiates, as do overdose deaths, unfortunately. According to the CDC, almost thirty-five thousand people died in the United States alone related to overdose deaths from opiates. As far as cannabis goes, to date, there have been no deaths related to overdose. It simply does not happen. Aside from that, addiction rates are not existent, and the negative side effects associated with cannabis are as minor as dry mouth, and dry eyes vs. the myriad of terrible effects that can occur when opiates enter the picture. According to various studies which have examined the issue, those who have used, or use cannabis to manage their modern pain almost all agree on the fact that cannabis helps them more so than any other drug, and even more than that, helps them reduce, and minimize how many other prescriptions that they take. Near 91% of those who use medical cannabis agree that it helps them in one way or another. In a world of dangerous prescriptions, cannabis might be a ray of sunlight.

Conclusions:

Pain, while a useful aspect of the human experience, is something that no one wants, nor should have to experience a moment longer than they need to. When it comes to those suffering from chronic pain, it should be our duty to find out the best, and healthiest ways to help alleviate said pain. Cannabis seems to be a good contender for the next pain management method, and while only time will tell there seems to be a great amount of promise when it comes to medical marijuana, as told by the patients themselves, and as shown by various studies. Of course, it is always important to remember that you should consult with your doctor before starting, and possibly even more important, before stopping any medication or treatment plan. Cannabis has a long history of use for its medical reasons, and it doesn’t seem, despite its precarious legal position to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Sources:

Cannabis for chronic pain: case series and implications for clinicians. – PubMed – NCBI

Doctors Favor Opioids Over Marijuana for Pain Management

Comparison of the analgesic effects of dronabinol and smoked marijuana in daily marijuana smokers. – PubMed – NCBI

Low-dose vaporized cannabis significantly improves neuropathic pain. – PubMed – NCBI

Prevalence of medical marijuana use in California, 2012. – PubMed – NCBI

Marijuana Relieves Chronic Pain; Research Shows

www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/early/2010/08/30/cmaj.091414.full.pdf

Dose-dependent Effects of Smoked Cannabis on Capsaicin-induced Pain and Hyperalgesia in Healthy Volunteers | Anesthesiology | ASA Publications

online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/can.2017.0012