Using Medical Marijuana for Pain Relief and Management
Legal cannabis can serve a variety of medicinal purposes. Marijuana pain relief and marijuana pain management are typically considered to be a primary use for medical marijuana recommendation or card holders. Patients report significant improvements in the amount and intensity of pain from ongoing illness.
Marijuana can be a promising treatment for some specific, pain-related medical conditions,
according to California researchers who have even presented their findings to the California
Legislature and also released them to the public.
''I think the evidence is getting better and better that marijuana, or the constituents of cannabis, are useful at least in the adjunctive treatment of neuropathy," Igor Grant, MD, executive vice-chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, tells WebMD.
''We don't know if it's a front-line treatment yet. I'm hoping the results of our studies will prompt larger-scale studies that involve a much more varied population." ''This [report given to the Legislature] sets the stage of larger-scale studies,'' he says.
Although some experts refuse to believe it, a growing list of studies have indicated a reduction in severity and discomfort resulting from the use of medical marijuana for pain relief and management.
Five studies, published in peer-reviewed medical journals, show the value of marijuana for pain-related conditions, the researchers say in the report.
Smoked/Vaporized cannabis reduced pain in HIV patients. In one study, 50 patients assigned either to cannabis or placebo finished the study. Although 52% of those who smoked marijuana had a 30% or more reduction in pain intensity, just 24% of those in the placebo group did. The study is published in the journal Neurology. In another study, 28 HIV patients were assigned to either marijuana or placebo -- and 46% of pot smokers compared to 18% of the placebo group
reported 30% or more pain relief. That study is in Neuropsychopharmacology.
Legal medical marijuana helped reduce pain in people suffering spinal cord injury
and other conditions. In this study, 38 patients smoked either high-dose or low-dose marijuana; 32 finished all three sessions. Both doses reduced neuropathic pain from different causes. Results appear in the Journal of Pain.
Medium doses of marijuana can reduce pain perception, another study found. Fifteen healthy volunteers smoked a low, medium, or high dose of marijuana to see if it could counteract the pain produced by an injection of capsaicin, the ''hot'' ingredient in chili peppers. The higher the dose, the greater the pain relief. The study was published in Anesthesiology.
Vaporized marijuana is very safe, other research found. In the fifth study, 14 volunteers were assigned to get low, medium, or high doses of pot, either smoked or by vaporization delivery, on six different occasions. The vaporized method was found to be the safest intake method; however patients preferred it to smoking. The study
is in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
A sixth study, as yet unpublished, found medicinal cannabis better than placebo cigarettes in reducing the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and the pain associated with the spasticity.