Cannabinoids For Pain: CBD oil dropping from pipet

Medical cannabis or medical marijuana is a name given to a herb extracted from the Cannabis plant and used for chronic pain management, as relief from specific symptoms, etc. Moreover, some results of the experiments carried out at the Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, New York, were revealed at the American Academy of Neurology 2019 Annual Meeting. According to these studies and their results, cannabis can help patients to relieve chronic pain, insomnia, stress, depression, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy in children. Besides, the findings show that medical cannabis is overall well tolerated by elderly patients, and really eases chronic pain and inflammation.

There is growing confusion in respect of the use of terms marijuana and cannabis. To straighten this out once and for all, it must be noted that they are the same, they are just the names given to one and the same plant. The main difference is that marijuana is a colloquial name, whereas cannabis is a scientific name given to the plant. It is called medicinal or medical cannabis when it is applied for medical use, and non-medical - for relaxation and euphoria.

Meanwhile, there is a growing interest in the use of medical cannabis for many health issues. Though it has a long history of medical use and has been claimed to have analgesic effects, especially in chronic neuropathic pain, the research is very young and is still ongoing, which leads to the risk of bias concerning its benefits and side effects in the long run.

Despite the fact that it is believed to be beneficial for the treatment of various health conditions and symptoms, there is still a strong controversy and heated debate concerning its safety and efficacy.

The existing results of present-day studies are quite promising, and besides, the presence of a great number of medical cannabis products available proves the fact that there is no smoke without fire. Thus, this article aims at revealing all about medical cannabis as a pain relief and cannabis-based medicinal extracts and products.

Medical Cannabis: In and Out

Nowadays, medical cannabis is prescribed for a great number of health conditions. It is recommended as a significant pain relief for chronic pain states, such as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, where other non-herbal medication has proved to be ineffective or has brought about some severe side effects. It is also prescribed for cancer-related pain, in which cases it helps to work up the appetite, alleviate pain and the side effects of chemotherapy. Besides, it may be really beneficial for other health issues, such as stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

There is actually no difference between the cannabis used medicinally and the cannabis used recreationally. If you use it under medical supervision, with a meticulously chosen dosage, and with a clearly established diagnosis, it is referred to as medical cannabis.

The one used unauthorized by a physician, for relaxation or euphoria cannot be considered medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis may be administered in different ways: sublingually, by vaporization, smoking, or in the form of edibles. It contains hundreds of cannabinoids, the most well-studied of which are THC (in the maximum permissible dose) and CBD. Once consumed they start to interact with the endocannabinoid system in our body binding to cannabinoid receptors CB1 (THC) and CB2 (CBD). The endocannabinoid system controls our pain sensation, appetite, inflammation, stress level, and sleep. So the cannabinoids urge the endocannabinoid system to produce more natural cannabinoids to cope with the task.

THC is a psychoactive compound that is highly addictive and responsible for causing "high". Its permissible dose in a medical cannabis product is <0,3 and it can increase appetite, diminish nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. On the other hand, CBD is not associated with euphoria or getting "high", and it has more therapeutic effects, such as easing pain and inflammation, improving the quality of sleep, decreasing the levels of stress and depression. THC and CBD in sync with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids help to ease chronic musculoskeletal pain, cancer pain, neuropathic pain, and chronic non-cancer pain.

Legalization of Medical Cannabis in the UK

The international medical cannabis industry has been going at lightning speed, while the UK was slower to welcome it as a medicine.

November 2018 is considered to be a turning point, which allowed specialist doctors to prescribe some medicinal cannabis-based medication to patients by law. Since then there has been some tangible support in the healthcare system, yet very few prescriptions. The reasons may be ascribed to partly inadequate and insufficient awareness and education, and partly to doctors' deferment from the responsibility, who would rather choose to treat their patients using non-herbal prescribed medicine.

But the good news is that, according to a 2019 poll, about 1,4 million people in the UK consume cannabis for medical reasons on a regular basis to treat acute pain and other health conditions.

How Do Cannabinoids for Pain Work?

Recently there has been a surge of chronic pain patients around the world: it has become a common disabling condition. Unfortunately, there are very few medications that can significantly and safely relieve pain sensation, as they are very often accompanied by adverse events.

Scientific research proves that the endocannabinoid system is directly involved in these health conditions. As we have mentioned above, it is in charge of homeostasis and balances in neurotransmitter levels and the central nervous system. The disruption in its functioning adds up to the symptoms of chronic pain in patients.

Thus, CBD and THC are the two powerful cannabinoids that enhance the functioning of the endocannabinoid system through receptors and improve the symptoms of pain. Their combination with other cannabinoids and terpenes creates the entourage effect which makes the benefits more obvious and tangible.

Their unprecedented advantage is that they have very few to no side effects as compared to other prescribed medicine. Those few side effects may vary with the type of product you choose to consume. THC is likely to cause appetite increase, impairments in cognitive function, sometimes in driving, sedation, and dizziness. Sometimes, it can even cause psychosis and hallucinations. CBD is considered to be a safer alternative by itself, but its interactions with other supplements and prescription medications are known.

If you consume a product containing isolate CBD oil, you can freely choose to drive. But if your product contains any trace of THC, you had better refrain from driving a car, as it is considered a criminal offense.

So, medical cannabis-based medicines prove to be more powerful in the treatment of chronic pain and inflammation, improving mood, decreasing the levels of stress and depression. Patients claim to experience improvement of symptoms and to enjoy a pain-free life after cannabis-based drug administration.

Can Cannabinoids for Pain Replace Optimized Opioid Therapy?

Systematic reviews of the benefits and side effects of prescribed opioids and anti-depressants suggest that they can do develop an addiction which is highly destructive. The number of patients going for prescribed opioid painkillers has been growing dramatically which could have developed into a global disaster with a high rate of mortality but for cannabinoids.

They have come to successfully replace the ominous opioids. Many clinical trials prove the effects of THC and CBD in alleviating neuropathic pain intensity. Statistically, more and more adult patients nowadays willingly resort to cannabinoids to reduce cancer and chronic non-cancer pain. There is also anecdotal evidence that proves the beneficial effect of cannabinoids in treating the pain associated with arthritis and chronic musculoskeletal states.

Unfortunately, the research done in this sphere so far is not conclusive to back up all these claims, but the process is ongoing and the results appear to be promising and invigorating.

Final Thoughts

Although there is a growing amount of evidence to support the beneficial effects of medical cannabis in pain management, there is not yet a scientific consensus. The emerging medical research should do its best to shed off the existing stereotypes about cannabinoids and cannabis-based medicine to help people get rid of chronic and acute pain safely and to live a happy and pain-free life.