By Ian Lebowski
As the debate about medical marijuana gets heated, one would think this is a modern ideology. On the contrary, an ancient Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo (c. 140-208) is the earliest person recorded to have administered cannabis as anesthesia during surgery. Hemp was also among the herbs used for food, specifically a source of fiber, in Taiwan during those early days.
Today, medical researchers have profound proof that marijuana is among the valuable drugs that could be utilized for treating different ailments. In fact, the current debates and massive legalization of medical marijuana in various states in the US could be attributed to such scientific findings.
Moreover, it is noteworthy that the recent decisions are not based on a superficial short-term research. On the contrary, renowned medical institutions have been undertaking intensive studies on the subject of medical marijuana for the past 20 years. The research had been ongoing even after its ban as a prescription medicine in the US in 1937.
Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain
For anyone dealing with chronic pain, their priority is to find an effective way to manage their health condition. The discussion about the legalities, risks, administration methods does not feature significantly in their concerns. The good news is that those entrusted with their wellbeing are optimistic about medical marijuana. Healthcare providers believe that the drug is a timely breakthrough for those battling chronic pain.
Cannabinoids could be used to lessen pain and spasticity resulting from nerve damage such as that common with those suffering from HIV/AIDs. This application of cannabinoids is espoused by a 2007 research by San Francisco General Hospital researchers who studied effects of smoking marijuana on peripheral neuropathy associated with HIV. They let one group of their participants smoke marijuana thrice a day while the rest were given a cigarette without any tetrahydrocannabinol(THC).
Those who used marijuana registered a 34% decrease in pain when the rest experienced only 17% reduction.
The above application of medical marijuana could also work for patients with spinal cord injury and anyone suffering from multiple sclerosis. Though cannabinoids (CBD) are believed to be among the most effectual pain relievers for terminal conditions, some studies show that they work better if coupled with opioids.
A June 2015 clinical review in PubMed went further to list various conditions that could be managed effectively using medical marijuana based on the existing scientific literature on this subject. Other than chronic pain, cannabinoids could be used to ease pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, enhance appetite and prevent excess weight loss common with HIV/AIDs patients, as well as inhibit multiplication of cancer cells. It could also be used to suppress nausea in patients after chemotherapy treatments.
Medical Marijuana Vs Traditional Painkillers
But we already have traditional painkillers? You may question. As mentioned above, some of those traditional painkillers perform better if mixed with medical marijuana. Nonetheless, it would be helpful to look at the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana and traditional prescriptions for pain management.
Interestingly, many of these studies on medical marijuana indicate that cannabis is less addictive and without fatal overdose consequences, unlike most licit prescription drugs. This is a welcome relief in a situation where prescription drug overdose kills about 46 people daily in the US. In fact, this safe therapeutic profile of cannabis could explain why those states that legalized medical marijuana experienced 24.8% fewer deaths related to prescription drug overdose since 1999 to 2010. The polls showing a decline in such deaths was published by JAMA Internal Medicine on August 25, 2014.
How is medical marijuana administered?
Among the major concerns about this drug is the perception that one has to smoke it. As a substance surrounded by a lot of myths, it makes many uncomfortable to imagine smoking cannabis, especially in the public. It is true that better results are attainable when smoked. However, doctors are looking at other possibilities where its extracts could be packaged in forms familiar with patients. Such would include pills, vaporizers, and others.
BestPortableVaporizer.com founder Ian Lebowski has been an avid vape enthusiast for close to a decade now. Originally working in quality control and testing, Ian has reviewed hundreds of vape products over the years. He now works directly with manufacturers working on new product technologies.