Source – preventdisease.com
– “… Cannabis has no known lethal dose…Thousands of people who use opioids for pain control die from overdose each year–and the number is increasing. In fact, opioid-overdose deaths have quadrupled within 10 years”:
More than 100 million people in the United States suffer from debilitating chronic pain and far too many succumb to the use of powerful prescription pain killers. Their consumption has jumped 300 percent in the last decade. The one plant which has caused the single most incarcerations in the United States is the same plant which can curb addictions from opioids and also help people suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, says a study.
More acclaims are coming forward from research teams claiming Marijuana could indeed be the exit drug on the century. “Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” said the study’s lead investigator Zach Walsh, Associate Professor at University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Canada.
The study published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review is based on a systematic review of research on the medical cannabis use and mental health as well as reviews on non-medical cannabis use.
However, the review concluded that cannabis use might not be recommended for conditions such as bipolar disorder and psychosis.
“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” Walsh said.
It is important to identify ways to help mental health professional move beyond stigma to better understand the risk and benefits of cannabis, Walsh added.
“There is not currently a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” Walsh said.
Thousands of people who use opioids for pain control die from overdose each year–and the number is increasing. In fact, opioid-overdose deaths have quadrupled within 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and three out of four of these deaths involve prescription pain medications, not street drugs. Most of the people who die–60%–aren’t using the drugs illegally either. They have legitimate prescriptions.
Another unrelated study suggested that pot may even have a place in curbing the opioid epidemic. And yet marijuana can be notoriously hard to study in the U.S. because it’s classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse. Many scientists and medical professionals think the classification hampers research, and that marijuana’s medical potential merits further exploration. More studies, research advocates argue, would also help eliminate stigma associated with the drug, paving the way for more and better studies.
Some studies have examined the effect of adding a cannabinoid to the regimen of patients with chronic pain who report significant pain despite taking stable doses of potent opioids.
An investigational cannabinoid therapy helped provide effective analgesia when used as an adjuvant medication for cancer patients with pain that responded poorly to opioids, according to results of a multicenter trial reported in The Journal of Pain, published by the American Pain Society.
When patients begin to consume cannabis, there is a notable decline in the amount of prescribed medications taken, such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and pain relievers. These drugs have severe side effects. There is not one clinical study which examined the use of cannabis for pain relief where subjects were not able to reduce their drug intake.
When it comes to pain management, some studies even suggest that patients who use vaporizers to consume medical marijuana could experience excellent results. A team of Israeli scientists recently conducted a clinical trial in which they discovered that patients who vaporized whole-plant cannabis felt a substantial amount of relief from nerve pain. These findings, which were published in the latest edition of the Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy, indicate that the majority of the study participants reported this reduction as the result of inhalers.
Why Cannabis is Safer
Gregory T. Carter, MD, Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington, stated the following in his response titled “The Argument for Medical Marijuana for the Treatment of Chronic Pain,” published in an article titled “Medical Marijuana: A Viable Tool in the Armamentaria of Physicians Treating Chronic Pain? A Case Study and Commentary,” in the May 2013 issue of Pain Medicine:
“[R]esearch further documents the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis for chronic pain. Cannabis has no known lethal dose, minimal drug interactions, is easily dosed via orally ingestion, vaporization, or topical absorption, thereby avoiding the potential risks associated with smoking completely…
Natural cannabis contains 5-15% THC but also includes multiple other therapeutic cannabinoids, all working in concert to produce analgesia…”
The Mayo Clinic stated in its Aug. 25, 2006 online article “Marijuana as Medicine: Consider the Pros and Cons”:
“People widely used marijuana for pain relief in the 1800s, and several studies have found that cannabinoids have analgesic effects. In fact, THC may work as well in treating cancer pain as codeine, a mild pain reliever. Cannabinoids also appear to enhance the effects of opiate pain medications to provide pain relief at lower dosages.
Researchers currently are developing new medications based on cannabis to treat pain.”
David Hadorn, MD, PhD, Medical Consultant for GW Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., wrote in his July 17, 2003 document titled “Use of Cannabis Medicines in Clinical Practice,” published on his personal website http://www.davidhadorn.com (website no longer available; Feb. 17, 2009):
“Scientists have known for many years that cannabinoids (the major active ingredients in cannabis medicines) are potent pain relievers, and that they act synergistically with opiates to increase the degree of pain relief. The addition of cannabis medicines to therapeutic regimens can reduce the need for opiates by 50 percent or more in many patients (while also reducing side effects such as constipation that opiates commonly produce).”
Denis Petro, MD, Board of Directors for Patients Out of Time, wrote in his paper titled “Spasticity and Chronic Pain” published in the 1997 book Cannabis in Medical Practice – A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana:
“The evidence in support of cannabis as a treatment for pain exists both in preclinical animal studies and in a small number of clinical trials. Since cannabis contains many active cannabinoids in varying amounts in differing plants, a coherent recommendation concerning use against pain symptoms is lacking… Considering the alternative of addicting drugs such as the opiate analgesics, patients may opt for the relative safety of cannabis.”
Based on these findings, many pain experts are now advising that physicians recommend cannabis therapy in in lieu of opiate medications to “reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications.”