The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) conducted a study early this year titled “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.” This study raised key findings that included how effective medical marijuana was in treating chronic pain. According to the study, there is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids can be an effective treatment.
There are some qualifiers though, such as the subjectivity of pain from individual to individual and the types of pain being treated. The highest rate of effectiveness in treatment for conditions with chronic pain as a symptom were for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) or who were given chemotherapy. The muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting caused by MS and chemotherapy (respectively) were prevented or treated with cannabis or cannabinoids.
The results of this study were most likely part of the clinical literature that inform companies like Loblaw Companies Ltd. (who owns Shopper’s Drug Mart) to cover their employees for medical marijuana.
Want to know more about how effective cannabis and cannabinoids can be for relieving chronic symptoms? Read on for the specifics of how marijuana can counteract chronic pain.
We Have Natural Receptors and Producers for Cannabinoids
What’s remarkable about the human body when on the topic of pain management via medical marijuana, is that it possesses specialized receptors for cannabinoids throughout. Our bodies are very good at binding chemical compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), which are compounds NASEM and other medical researchers find the most favourable for pain-relief.
Our bodies are also proficient at producing what’s called “endogenous cannabinoids”, or cannabinoids that are produced inside of an organism. The modulation of these endocannabinoids affects a wide range of physiological responses, including altering blood pressure or pain response.
It’s the ability of inhaling or ingesting medical marijuana to modulate endocannabinoids in the human body that medical researchers find most compelling regarding chronic pain. The fact that our bodies can naturally receive and produce cannabinoids also relates to how different strains of marijuana can affect various therapeutic effects for patients outside of pain management, too.
Misgivings of Marijuana Pain-Relief
Doctors are still unsure of whether patients are truly using cannabis for therapeutic purposes like pain management. Since there is a recreational side to marijuana, the more conservative thinkers are often swayed by common misconceptions of the drug.
The line of logic goes that a patient makes decisions about what type of traditional medicine, like opioids, to use based on what kind of pain they are experiencing. But when a patient chooses from various marijuana products at several different vendors to treat their pain, doctors believe patients lack enough information to choose the best type of marijuana for their individual conditions.
Part of this reasoning follows, seeing as there are several kinds of marijuana dispensaries out there (both recreational and medical). Doctors forget, however, that patients do have access to medical associations that can educate them about what the best strain of marijuana is to use to treat their ailments. There is also an unprecedented rise in opioid addiction in recent years that medical cannabis is helping to curb.
Spreading Awareness of Marijuana for Pain Management
Patients who use cannabis for their chronic symptoms play an important role in helping doctors realize the benefits of properly dosing with the right strain of marijuana. Just as you wouldn’t take ibuprofen for a stomach ache, you wouldn’t take a strain of marijuana that’s effective for reducing anxiety for chronic pain issues.
Learning how to speak to your doctor about medical marijuana will not only help you gain access to the pain-relief that can restore you to a high quality of life, it raises awareness. Painting marijuana with the broad brush of criminal stigma prevents patients with chronic conditions from finding natural and effective relief.
Let’s make the conversation more open and break down some barriers.