The impact of cannabis on pain management is a matter of much debate. Despite anecdotal evidence and the political push to legalize marijuana, scientists are still trying to establish the true effectiveness of the substance.
Researchers reviewed 25 studies involving nearly 15,000 people in which the main active ingredient in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or another, nonpsychoactive molecule called cannabidiol (CBD) were combined with placebos. The results showed no difference in self-reported pain reduction between the two treatments.
The impact of cannabis on pain management can be a complex issue. It largely depends on the person using it and their individual situation.
Several studies have found that using cannabis can significantly reduce pain, but more research is needed.
For example, a patient-level meta-analysis (the strongest type of study available) that evaluated the effectiveness of inhaled cannabis for treating chronic neuropathic pain found an odds ratio of 3.2 and a number needed to treat of 5.55. This patient-level analysis was also robust to sensitivity analyses.
In the same study, smoked cannabis was also associated with a reduction in use of opiate-based pain medications. This finding is significant because opioids are a common treatment for chronic pain and are used in high volumes by patients.
Smoked cannabis can also improve pain in people who have inflammatory disease or cancer, according to a 1-year trial of a medically formulated cannabis extract and an herbal infusion that contained tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both the CBD-rich extract and the herbal infusion showed a reduction in pain intensity, but the THC-rich product lowered the use of opioid-based drugs by more than double the rate seen with the extract.
Another randomized clinical trial of a cannabinoid-rich extract for chronic back pain found that the treatment led to a significant decrease in neuropathic pain, compared with placebo. The treatment also decreased the use of acetaminophen and oxycodone, which are often prescribed for chronic back pain.
The IASP, a group of health professionals who work to promote research and knowledge in pain management, has also called for caution regarding cannabis’s role in pain management. The organization recently commissioned two reviews: one that examined previous research on the topic and one that looked at randomized controlled trials.
For now, it’s important to keep in mind that a small number of studies suggest that using cannabis may increase the risk of depression and anxiety in people with chronic pain. This is because people who use cannabis for pain are more likely to report that they have anxiety or depression.
Vaping is one of the newest and most popular ways to consume cannabis. It offers patients an immediate relief from pain without the tar, smoke and other side effects associated with cigarette smoking or the high of edibles.
It is also less smelly, making it ideal for people with sensitive lungs or breathing problems. It is also a relatively safe alternative to smoking, with little to no negative health impacts reported by millions of users around the world.
Paul Lubell, a retired Navy veteran and Cleveland VA Medical Center patient, started using vaping as a way to help manage his chronic pain. He has tried many types of pain medications, including opioids, but they don’t work as well as he wants.
He discovered that he could get relief from his pain with an electronic cigarette device paired with prefilled THC cartridges. After his first use, he felt much better.
The vaporizing process eliminates some of the most toxic aspects of cigarette smoking, including tar and nicotine. Additionally, vaporizers have a more discreet design than cigarettes and are easier to conceal, reducing stigma and allowing for vaping in public spaces like bars or restaurants.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of vaporized cannabis, we conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in 35 patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain. They were randomized to receive either medium dose (3.53%) or lower dose (1.29%) of vaporized cannabis or placebo. We measured pain intensity and psychoactive side-effects as well as neuropsychological performance at pre-, post-baseline and hourly intervals during the study period.
After vaporization, pain intensity on a 0-100 mm VAS scale was significantly lower in the group receiving cannabis than in the placebo group. This was a strong and statistically significant difference. The results of this trial support the use of vaporized cannabis as a pain-relieving treatment for patients with chronic neuropathic pain whose traditional therapies are not able to provide sufficient analgesia.
The study found that vaporizing low-dose THC reduced pain, whereas the higher dose of THC had no effect on pain. This suggests that a small amount of THC can provide the majority of pain-relieving benefits while reducing psychoactive effects.
A growing number of medical cannabis patients are turning to cannabis topicals to find pain relief. This is because topicals do not enter the bloodstream, which means they do not produce a “high.” Instead, they can provide pain relief in a more targeted manner.
Infused lotions, oils, creams, ointments, and balms are available that contain THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids. They may also contain terpenes that help to reduce inflammation, and can be applied to the skin for localized relief.
These topicals can be infused with different amounts of THC, and they will differ from one brand to another. It’s important to know how much cannabis is in the topical so you can be sure it is providing you with the relief you are looking for.
The best way to know what you are getting is to read the label. These labels often state the amount of THC and/or CBD in a specific bottle or pump of ointment. In addition, these bottles typically state the potency of the product. This will tell you how strong the ointment is and can give you an idea of what it will do for you.
While the exact effects of cannabis are unknown, scientists have found that it can interact with a person’s endocannabinoid receptors in the skin. These receptors are located in the outer layer of the skin and can be triggered when cannabis is applied to the body.
This interaction can cause the onset of relief from many conditions and ailments including pain, muscle tension, inflammation, itching, and even a variety of other aches and pains. This is because the cannabinoids are able to bind with the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors in the skin.
When the endocannabinoid receptors are activated, collagen cells begin to grow, and a reduction in pain is achieved. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis are helpful in controlling autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and other chronic conditions.
The healing effects of cannabis oil also promote a calming response in the nervous system, which is beneficial to patients with movement disorders such as dystonia and tics. Additionally, these oils are known to help with anxiety and depression symptoms.
The impact of cannabis on pain management is largely based on the way it works with your body’s own natural pain-relieving chemicals. If you want to know what kind of marijuana variety would work best for your specific endocannabinoid system (ECS), it’s important to keep a health journal that tracks how you feel when you smoke or vape different varieties. It’s also useful to find a store or dispensary that sells regulated, organically grown products.
Ingestion, the process of taking food in through the mouth and into the gut, is essential for animals to get the nutrients and organic molecules from their food. During this process, the food is mechanically broken down and chemically processed in the saliva. Once it’s in the stomach, a process called mastication takes place.
A new study found that people with pain from cancer and other chronic conditions may find cannabis to be more effective than placebo. In the trial, patients who ingested genuine cannabis felt significantly less pain than those who drank a dummy pill.
The researchers said that the findings should help to ease concerns about the use of marijuana in medical situations. In the research, participants who ingested real cannabis experienced an average of 67% more relief than those who took a dummy pill.
These findings are an important reminder to healthcare professionals that the effects of medical cannabis should be discussed with patients before prescribing it. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual’s doctor to decide whether or not cannabis is right for them.
One way to help educate your clients on the benefits of using cannabis for pain is by introducing them to clinical studies. The most promising ones focus on the ECS and the role that cannabinoid compounds have in a wide range of pain-related medical conditions.
While these studies show that cannabis can be effective for a wide variety of pain-related problems, more research is needed. This research can help determine which kinds of cannabis are best for pain and how to use it. It can also help to determine which strains or product types are better for different people with different endocannabinoid systems and lifestyles.