While cannabis has a history that spans thousands of years (Check out: Marijuana Through the Ages) cannabis is now gaining recognition as a viable treatment. The opiod epidemic has left the medical community desperate for alternatives and cannabis has re-emerged as one of the most effective alternatives for pain management.
A 2017 study with nearly 3000 participants found that 93% of patients preferred medical marijuana over opiods for managing pain. Of those studied, 97% were able to decrease their dependence on opiods, and 80% described cannabis as more effective than opiods. (Mulakaluri, 208)
So what is causing the effectiveness? Well, the cannabis plant contains up to 70 phytocannabinoids and as of now researchers only understand 3 of these compounds. THC, CBD and Δ9THC. These 3 compounds interact with and affect the body through it's cannabinoid receptors which ultimately produces the therapeutic effect.
Indications for clinical use are growing clearer with a increasing body of research on the biochemical effects of cannabinoids. The activation of CB recepors in he CNS modulae stress-induced responses of the nervous system. This activity s associated with lowering he propagation of pain patterns, which is especially useful in MS and chronic regional pain. Also, because CB receptors are upregulated in the microglia and peripheral afferent nerves in response to injury, inflammation and pain; the activity of the receptors helps to control the pain.
CBD and THC have different strengths in the body. CBD for instance is favored to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD generates an anti-inflammatory effects, an agonistic effect reducing total inflammatory damage, controls inflammation in the brain, promotes the uptake of intracellular calcium and smoothing muscles and skeletal muscles to mitigate spasticity and associated pain. THC on the other hand can be useful in the management of severe debilitating pain that cannot be completely controlled by CBD. It is also effective in conditions where sedation and distraction are important methods of helping to control pain such as late stage cancers, kidney failure, traumatic brain injury, hepatitis etc..
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