Medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, is a term used to describe the use of cannabis and its derivatives to treat various medical conditions. Cannabis is a plant that contains numerous compounds, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating a variety of functions, including appetite, sleep, pain, and immune system response.
THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that is responsible for the plant’s characteristic “high”. It is this psychoactive effect that has historically made cannabis controversial as a medicine. However, recent research has shown that THC has a number of therapeutic properties that may be useful in the treatment of various medical conditions.
One of the most promising areas of research for THC is in the treatment of pain. Chronic pain, which is defined as pain that persists for more than three months, is a major public health issue that affects millions of people around the world. It is a leading cause of disability and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Traditional treatments for chronic pain, such as opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), can be effective, but they also carry the risk of serious side effects, including addiction and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Cannabis has been used for pain relief for centuries. One of the first recorded uses of cannabis as a medicine was in ancient China, where it was used to treat a variety of ailments, including pain. In more recent times, several studies have shown that cannabis can be effective in reducing chronic pain.
One study published in the Journal of Pain found that cannabis was effective in reducing chronic neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to the nervous system. Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that cannabis was associated with significant reductions in chronic pain among patients who were using opioid medications.
There are several potential mechanisms by which THC may be effective in reducing pain. THC activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which are involved in regulating pain. It is thought that THC may help to reduce pain by inhibiting the release of pain-inducing substances and by increasing the release of pain-inhibiting substances.
In addition to its pain-relieving properties, THC may also have other therapeutic benefits. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce inflammation-related pain. THC may also have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, which may help in manage pain in patients with conditions such as fibromyalgia, which is characterised by widespread pain and other symptoms such as fatigue and sleep disturbances.
There are several different ways that THC can be used to treat pain. It can be inhaled as smoke or vapour, or it can be taken orally in the form of edibles or tinctures. There are also topical preparations that can be applied directly to the skin.
The most appropriate form of THC for pain management will depend on the individual patient’s needs and preferences. Some patients may prefer inhalation methods, which will provide rapid symptom relief, while others may prefer oral or topical methods, which may have a slower onset of action but a longer duration of effect.
The use of medical cannabis for pain management is still a controversial topic, and there are many challenges to conducting research on the topic. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in Australia, which means that it is illegal under federal law and is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This classification has made it difficult for researchers to study the therapeutic potential of cannabis.
Despite these challenges, there is a growing body of research on the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain. A review of studies published in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2015 found that cannabis is effective at reducing chronic pain in adults. The review analysed the results of 27 randomised controlled trials, which are considered the gold standard of scientific research. The studies included a total of 2,600 participants, and the researchers found that cannabis was associated with a significant reduction in chronic pain compared to a placebo.
One of the mechanisms by which medical cannabis may help reduce chronic pain is by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors and chemicals that regulate a wide range of functions in the body, including pain perception. THC activates the endocannabinoid system by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system. This activates a response that reduces the perception of pain and can also have anti-inflammatory effects.
In addition to its analgesic properties, medical cannabis may also have other potential benefits for people with chronic pain. A study published in the Journal of Pain in 2018 found that medical cannabis was associated with improvements in sleep and quality of life in people with chronic pain. Another study published in the same journal in 2017 found that medical cannabis was associated with a reduction in opioid use in people with chronic pain. Opioid medications, such as oxycodone and morphine, are commonly prescribed for chronic pain, but they can be highly addictive and have serious side effects.
Despite the growing evidence of the effectiveness of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, there are still some limitations to its use. For example, the long-term effects of medical cannabis on pain management are not fully understood, and more research is needed to determine the optimal dosage and frequency of use. Additionally, the legal status of medical cannabis varies from state to state in Australia. This can make it difficult for people to access medical cannabis and may deter some healthcare providers from prescribing it.
There are also concerns about the negative side effects of medical cannabis. THC can cause psychoactive effects, such as altered judgement and memory, which may impair a person’s ability to perform tasks that required attention, such as driving. THC can also cause short term side effects such as dizziness, and a dry mouth. THC can also interact with certain medications and may not be safe for people with certain medical conditions, such as a history of mental health disorders or a family history of psychoses.
“THC has its own set of side effects, including sleepiness and lethargy, increased appetite, increased heart rate, coordination problems, dry mouth, red eyes, slower reaction times, memory loss, anxiety, and mood changes”.
Despite these limitations, the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain is a promising area of research, and more studies are needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks. In the meantime, it is important for people with chronic pain to discuss all treatment options with their healthcare professional, including the potential use of medical cannabis, and to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of any treatment.
“Because the great majority of chronic pain cannot be explained, it is always advisable to take pain problems seriously and have them checked out”.
In conclusion, while the evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis, particularly THC, for pain management is limited, it suggests that it may be an effective treatment for chronic pain in some individuals.
Patients need to discuss the potential risks and benefits of medical cannabis with their healthcare profession before starting treatment. It is also important to note that medical cannabis should not be used as a substitute for proved treatments for chronic pain, such as physical therapy, exercise, and over the counter and prescription medications.
At iCannabis we are focused on bringing the purest and most bioavailable medical cannabis to Australian patients and their families. We specialise in educating and helping Australian patients gain access to medical cannabis so you can experience the healing powers of this plant.
Once you discover the documented benefits tens of thousands of patients around the world have received from medical cannabis, you too will realise the positive impact this plant has already had on the quality of life for patients and their families, which is nothing short of miraculous.
At iCannabis we are committed to establishing an Australian medical cannabis community comprised of passionate and caring people, focused on the highest quality organic medicine made with love and integrity.
If you need any advice or help with CBD for Anxiety please reach out.