Cannabis and Chronic Pain: Saying GoodBye to Opioids – PotanyPros

Cannabis and Chronic Pain: Saying GoodBye to Opioids


The perspective of Marijuana is currently undergoing a dramatic shift.

Once culturally demonized as a gateway drug for the unambitious,it is now showing promises to be a medicinal powerhouse and super herb.

In fact, Marijuana is now experiencing recreational support from upwards of 60% of Americans.

With the many medical benefits, Cannabis can possibly provide, it comes with little surprise that over 90% of Americans support the use of medical marijuana.

But what about the remaining percentage of Americans that think Marijuana should be illegal?

A primary reason for those that say Marijuana should remain illegal is their concern that individuals will move onto stronger and more addictive drugs.  

While there are certainly a variety of opinions on why Marijuana should remain illegal, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to all the relief it provides to many of the users.

Case in point?

Opioids vs. Marijuana for long-term chronic pain treatment. 

Chronic Pain

As defined by the CDC, chronic pain limits normal daily activities, including work activities, most days of the week.

Unfortunately, about 1 out of 5 Americans suffer from chronic pain and it’s the most common reason for adults seeking medical care.

Chronic pain racks up a national expense of close to $600 billion a year and is known to impact an individual biologically, psychologically, and socially. 

This means someone with chronic pain is likely to experience diminished work performance, strained family dynamics, and a stressed social environment. 

When we combine the impact of chronic pain and that it is both difficult and challenging to treat, it becomes clear just how problematic it can be to manage.

What’s more troubling is long-term opioid use for chronic pain. 

Opioids and Addiction

An important distinction should be made when choosing options for pain management because long-term opioid use for chronic pain has been associated with a variety of negative factors.

These negative factors include poor long-term pain control, increased sensitivity to pain, dependency, addiction, and even overdose.

 

At first, a patient might feel that the prescribed opioids are adequately managing their pain.

However, long-term opioid use actually increases pain sensitivity. This often leads to a higher strength prescription to control their pain.  

From there, a patient could enter a dangerous cyclic effect that would likely cause significant harm and even death.

Even though ineffective treatment plans for chronic pain prove to be very troublesome,  it’s not all doom and gloom. 

In fact, if individuals turn to Marijuana for their chronic pain, they’re likely to experience significant benefits. 

Marijuana: A Better Road Traveled 

According to the results from a 6-month study led by Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, long-term Marijuana use for chronic pain is showing great promise.

Within this small study, individuals report significant improvement in categories relating to pain, sleep, and quality of life.

Those that were exposed to higher levels of THC experienced an overall reduction in pain. Over time, individuals were able to fine-tune their treatment plan, resulting in a reduced overall need for THC within their pain management.

When researchers administered treatment that included both THC and CBD, patients were able to experience a reduction in pain, anxiety, and stress.

(If you’re confused about the difference between CBD, THC, Marijuana, Hemp, and Cannabis, you can read about the differences here).

As the study progressed, individuals were able to reduce their use of prescribed opiates within their pain management plan.

In some cases, individuals were able to decrease their opioid use by 64%.

A study released by the National Academies of Sciences states that those who seek the use of cannabis (both CBD and THC) for their chronic pain are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain.

In fact, many other studies are having similar results. 

How Marijuana Provides Relief

How can such a simple herb provide such significant benefits that are being depicted within these reports?

In general, Cannabis has been shown to help block the detection of painful stimuli and aid in the reduction of inflammation.

The majority of the benefits experienced has been attributed to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

THC is just one of more than a 100 different cannabinoids found within the Cannabis plant.

When THC is consumed, it binds with our cannabinoid receptors that are within our endocannabinoid system.

When THC binds to our cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors, a psychoactive effect occurs.

When the cannabinoids bind to the receptors, many individuals experience relief from their chronic pain and observe a variety of other benefits.

When considering all the potential benefits in combination with the reduction of risks and medical expenses, it seems prudent that more research is conducted.

If medical Marijuana is to be as effective as speculated, we could see an entirely different landscape when it comes to treating not just chronic pain, but a variety of other common but significant ailments too.

In a previous article, we touched on some other potential benefits here.

Summary

1 out of 5 Americans live with chronic pain and are likely to experience diminished work performance, strained family dynamics, and a stressed social environment that can greatly diminish their quality of life. Many individuals are prescribed opioids to manage their chronic pain. Unfortunately, this could lead to increased sensitivity to pain, dependency, addiction, and even overdose. However, those that are turning to Marijuana are experiencing a reduction in their chronic pain. In fact, many patients report significant improvement in categories relating to pain, sleep, and their overall quality of life. What’s more encouraging is that patients are able to reduce their opioid use by up to 64%. In some studies, patients were able to completely stop all their opioid use and effectively manage their chronic pain. While Marijuana is showing great promise for the treatment of chronic pain, researchers state that further research needs to be conducted before a clear determination can be made.

 If you’re interested in pursuing medical marijuana as a replacement or to use it as an addition to your pain management plan, you should always reach out to your doctor and local legal authorities for proper (and legal) utilization. Even though it’s a plant-based herb, expert medical advice should always be utilized when going over the benefits and risks.

Luckily, emerging research is suggesting that marijuana is proving to be a powerful agent when it comes to building an effective pain management plan.

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