Treating Chronic Pain with Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana has become an increasingly popular form of medical treatment due its therapeutic benefits and ability to provide symptomatic relief for a variety of medical conditions. It is currently legal for medicinal purposes in 29 states and the District of Columbia, while an additional 14 states allow restricted use of medical marijuana.
Despite the surge of medical marijuana use, it has yet to be approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This is partially because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, and due to this classification, the ability to conduct research requires an exclusive license.
Despite these research limitations, medical marijuana is prescribed to treat a variety of conditions including cancer, Crohn's disease, Glaucoma, Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms and overall body pain. The usage of medical marijuana can reduce the severe side effects related to these diagnoses and less-serious side effects such as a headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
According to Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., a substance abuse specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, "The greatest amount of evidence for the therapeutic effects of cannabis relate to its ability to reduce chronic pain, nausea, and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and spasticity [tight or stiff muscles] from MS."
How Does It Work?
Cannabinoids are the active chemicals in the marijuana plant, which lead to pain relief. These chemicals affect the body's central nervous system by calming down pain signal receptors. Cannabinoid effectiveness is said to be similar to codeine in the treatment of pain. According to Laura Borgelt, PharmD, and Dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Colorado, marijuana can aid natural compounds produced by the body to help them work better and relieve pain.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of 113 cannabinoids found in marijuana. It garners the most attention because it is most potently psychoactive. It is what makes users feel "high" and relaxed. Another popular cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which helps to ease pain without providing a high.
Medical marijuana can be ingested in a variety of forms, including smoking, vaporization, ingesting liquid extract, or consuming an infused edible.
Chronic Pain Studies
A 2010 Canadian study (link 1) found that three puffs of medical marijuana per day help with chronic nerve pain. Researcher Mark Ware MD, Assistant Professor of Anesthesia and Family medicine at McGill University in Montreal, said, "about 10% to 15% of patients attending a chronic pain clinic use cannabis as part of their pain [control] strategy."
A migraine study at the University of Colorado studied 121 people who used cannabis daily. [Link 2] It found that 40% of participants had a 50% reduction in the number of migraines they received each month. Most participants found the best results by inhaling or smoking their cannabis.
The Future of Medical Marijuana
In Pennsylvania, more than 1 million residents - from young children to aging adults - suffer from one of 21 approved conditions, which range from chronic pain, to PTSD, to cancer, and that number is only expected to grow. Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania is on the forefront of enabling the delivery of compassionate, ethical healthcare through the distribution of the high-quality medical marijuana products to patients and caregivers.