Your Guide To Medical Cannabis Australia

The use of medical cannabis for pain is gaining wide acceptance as an effective pain control remedy by doctors.

Cannabis sativa (cannabis) has been used as a medicinal agent for almost 5,000 years in traditional Eastern medicine. Its introduction into Western medicine took place in 1841 as a result of the work of an Irish physician who encountered “Indian hemp” in Calcutta. By the late 19thcentury, pharmaceutical companies in the Americas were producing medical cannabis in the form of cannabis-based extracts, tinctures, cigarettes, and adhesive plasters. These agents were mainly indicated for a wide range of conditions, many related to pain.

In 1892, Sir William Osler, a leading internist, wrote in The Principles and Practice of Medicine, that “Cannabis Indica is probably the most satisfactory remedy for migraines”. Despite these benefits, the medical use of cannabis fell from favour, and in the 1930 and 1940s was widely banned around the world. More recently, the medical use of cannabis has re-entered the world market for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including pain.

There appears to be a surge in evidence supporting the medicinal use of cannabis, in part due to patients reporting significant pain relief and reduction in the use of other medications, including opioids. Medical cannabis can be used to modulate pain through the use of phytocannabinoids, which are a class of lipophilic molecules that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is a network which interacts with the body’s central nervous and peripheral nervous system. In short, this means that phytocannabinoids hold incredible pharmacological potential.

Chronic pain is one of the most troubling and expensive issues for the government and patients. A recent study suggests that one in five Australians aged 45 and over are living with persistent, ongoing chronic pain. For many patients battling this silent epidemic, it is a hopeless exercise of jumping from one prescription drug to another and at a huge cost. Unfortunately, treatment pathways often direct patients to opioid painkillers, with prescriptions rising by 22% over the past decade and almost a million people used pain killers/analgesics in the past year. This is despite the fact that medical guidelines recommend that opioids should not be taken for more than a few weeks at a time as patients can become addicted to them. In addition to this, health experts have warned that opioid painkillers are not effective for 90% of people with chronic pain.

With medical experts now looking to move away from prescribing these addictive opioids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs there is an undeniable need for alternative medicines that are effective and affordable.

How Does Medical Cannabis Help With Pain?

Medical cannabis is not psychoactive, so when it’s isolated from the other compounds, you don’t get the psychological effects of intoxication associated with marijuana use. This compound stimulates a part of the brain called the cannabinoid system. This stimulation helps reduce the intensity of pain and aids in the reduction of inflammation in the body. It also provides an alternate path for chronic pain management.

Researchers have found medical cannabis reduces central nervous effects, providing effective pain relief and anti-inflammatory actions. Evidence is mounting in favour of medical cannabis as a beneficial and effective treatment in relieving chronic pain.

In most cases, chronic pain also has an important psychological component, usually a deep-seated emotional or stress-related problem. Other contributors can include poor posture, improper footwear and walking habits, improper lifting, straining, calcium deficiency, slouching when sitting, and sleeping on a mattress that is too soft. Kidney, bladder, and prostate problems, female pelvic disorders, and even constipation may produce back pain. Chronic conditions that can cause back pain include arthritis, rheumatism, bone disease, and abnormal curvature of the spine. Fractures are rarely the cause of chronic pain. The two biggest factors are likely being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle.

Because the great majority of chronic pain cannot be explained, it is always advisable to take pain problems seriously and have them checked out.

The benefits of medical cannabis

As a pain killer, medical cannabis is better than opioids. The other good thing about medical cannabis is that its side effect profile is much better than opioids. Its side effects are few, and are relatively mild, such as drowsiness and a dry mouth. The other benefit is that you cannot die of a medical cannabis overdose (no one has ever died of a cannabis over dosage), so it is remarkable safer than opioids.

The cannabis plant contains many biologically active components that have been shown to have analgesic effects.

Medical cannabis is already being put forward by experts as an alternative medication to opioids, reducing the risk of developing a dependency and other unwanted side-effects.

Pain is a debilitating symptom that can be linked to any number of complex conditions, causes, or other symptoms. Living with certain pain conditions is a common reality for many people.

For persistent pain conditions, medical cannabis can be a source of relief. Many people are not just uncomfortable as a result of their pain, it can make it difficult to complete various everyday tasks that other people might find simple. Treatment with medical cannabis helps to manage and minimise symptoms of paint and drastically improve the quality of life for these patients.

Common Pain Conditions

There are certain conditions that make chronic pain a part of everyday life, to a point where it becomes hard to manage. Some of these pain conditions include:

·       Arthritis

·       Back Pain and Sciatica

·       Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome

·       Chronic Pain

·       Endometriosis

·       Fibromyalgia

·       Migraines

·       Musculoskeletal Pain

·       Neuropathic Pain

Typical Symptoms of Pain Conditions

Depending on the specific type of pain condition, a person may suffer from:

·       Reduction in quality of life

·       Low mood

·       Sleep disruption, fatigue and insomnia

·       Loss of appetite

·       Stress and anxiety

·       Tremors or spasticity

These symptoms can come and go in periods known as relapses and flare-ups. Flare-ups are when symptoms are particularly severe, whereas relapses are when symptoms might become less severe or even disappear altogether temporarily.

Medical Cannabis and Chronic Pain

In 2016 the Australian Government legalised the use of medical cannabis for people who have a prescription from their doctor. Since then it’s been prescribed to thousands of Australians with a range of health issues. In 2021 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved over-the-counter sales of low dose cannabidiol (CBD) products from pharmacies. Evidence for the use of medical cannabis to treat pain associated with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions is emerging.

CBD is not psychoactive, so when it’s isolated from the other compounds, you don’t get the psychological effects of intoxication associated with marijuana use. This makes it much less controversial. Today, marijuana strains are being cultivated that contain virtually no THC, but extracts of just CBD, usually in the form of oil, are available and legal.

This compound stimulates a part of the brain called the cannabinoid system. This stimulation helps reduce the intensity of pain and aids in the reduction of inflammation in the body. It also provides an alternate path for chronic pain management.

With CBD oil, researchers have found reduced central nervous effects, effective pain relief and anti-inflammatory actions. As CBD and other cannabis compounds are researched, and as applications for chronic pain management are further tested, a consensus about healthy use and advantages is emerging. Evidence is mounting in favour of CBD as a beneficial end effective treatment in relieving chronic pain.

In most cases, chronic pain also has an important psychological component, usually a deep-seated emotional or stress-related problem. Other contributors can include poor posture, improper footwear and waling habits, improper lifting, straining, calcium deficiency, slouching when sitting, and sleeping on a mattress that is too soft. Kidney, bladder, and prostate problems, female pelvic disorders, and even constipation may produce back pain. Chronic conditions that can cause back pain include arthritis, rheumatism, bone disease, and abnormal curvature of the spine. Fractures are rarely the cause of chronic pain. The two biggest factors are likely being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle.

Because the great majority of chronic pain cannot be explained, it is always advisable to take pain problems seriously and have them checked out.