Almost the entire world knows about the journey of marijuana from being looked down upon as a narcotic drug to being recognized as a medicine on a number of diseases and especially for alleviating pain. Today it is known as medical marijuana and a lot of people, including celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Pete Davidson and Montel Williams support marijuana as a medicine. In fact, Whoopi has her own line of marijuana products, her joint venture with Maya Elisabeth, the founder of Om Edibles.
Reason for the Increasing Usage of Marijuana – Treatment of Chronic Pain
Since marijuana is traditionally considered as a recreational drug, its increasing use was about to become a concern in the society. But fortunately a study shows that it’s not used for recreational purpose but by chronic pain patients for medical purpose. In fact, more than 62% of people who use medical marijuana do so to treat chronic pain.
Chronic Pain – A Prevalent Condition
Today chronic pain has become more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. In the United States, it is the most common cause behind long-term disability.
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is the same marijuana used for recreational purpose, but is used for medical purpose, i.e. to treat various medical conditions.
It has been found that marijuana plant consists of over 100 different compounds known as cannabinoids. Each of these has a different effect on the body. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two main compounds used for medicinal purpose. THC is responsible for giving the ‘high’ to people when they smoke marijuana or eat it through foods.
It’s a good idea to take marijuana for treating chronic pain under the supervision of a marijuana doctor.
What is a Marijuana Doctor?
A marijuana doctor is a physician who has all the rights and privileges to practice in a state. They may be a general practitioner or may have a particular specialty like urology or oncology. A marijuana doctor is an experienced medical practitioner and is no different than the other doctors you come across, except that they are qualified and willing to recommend using medical marijuana.
Just like with any other drug, marijuana should also be studied by doctors to check its proven uses and any side effects it can cause. A doctor who recklessly recommends any controlled substance is putting their patients’ health and their license to practice medicine at risk. Therefore, you should find a marijuana doctor to get the correct advice if you want to use marijuana for chronic pain.
Marijuana for Chronic Pain
Medical marijuana is increasingly becoming popular as a treatment for chronic pain because it’s a safer and more effective alternative to traditional pain-killing medications including opioids. It can ease many types of chronic pain including the one caused by nerve damage and inflammation.
Safe and Affordable
Medical marijuana is believed to be an inexpensive treatment dating back to 1975 when researchers discovered that THC effectively treated cancer pain. Since it’s devoid of the side effects of traditional pain medications, medical marijuana is highly preferable for alleviating pain in those who cannot take pills or injections. Medical marijuana also has a low risk of overdose or dependency, and therefore is a safer alternative to pain pills.
A Harvard study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association used medical marijuana in six chronic pain patients and saw a reduction in their pain.
How does Medical Marijuana Work for Relieving Pain?
Now it’s established that medical marijuana is effective in relieving pain. But the question remains that on which pain it works effectively. This is because pain arises out of so many conditions. If you think that there may be different marijuanas for different types of pain, you’re partially right. They are not different marijuanas but different strains of marijuana that work on different pains.
Pain generally falls into three categories:
- Nociceptive pain
- Neuropathic pain
- Central pain (this category hasn’t gained a firm approval. A common example of this is fibromyalgia.)
Because each of these pains has a different origin, each type needs the best treatment plan.
Pain is caused by the coordinated activation of brain cells. These regions in brain not only cause the sensation of pain, but they can also modulate the intensity of pain signals. In some situations, you can have a physical injury (nociceptive pain) but without the sensation of pain. But the opposite, that is pain without any injury (central pain), is also possible.
Medical Marijuana and Nociceptive Pain
Nociceptive pain or inflammatory pain is caused by tissue damage. It’s a sharp, throbbing or aching pain experienced after physical damage caused by the inflammatory and immune cells that gather there for repair work. Therefore to weaken this pain, either pain signals that these cells send to the brain should be reduced or their effects should be weakened as they pass towards spinal cord and further towards brain. Medical marijuana can do both these processes and thus relieves pain.
Medical Marijuana and Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain differs from nociceptive pain in that it results from damage to the nervous system. It can arise from forceful injury, stabbing, pinching or a disease like multiple sclerosis that damages nerves. This pain is infamously hard to treat because NSAIDs cannot treat it. However, medical marijuana can work here. CBD-rich marijuana has been found to protect against chemotherapy-induced pain, whereas THC-rich marijuana is effective against pain caused in sciatica. CBD and THC marijuana would be more effective in the long term.
Medical Marijuana and Central Pain
Central pain is a newly arisen all-inclusive term that includes pain from dysfunction to nervous system. Although sometimes it can arise from injury, it usually results in the absence of any known cause. Hence it’s especially difficult to treat. It has been proved by studies that marijuana can be effective in fibromyalgia and other central pain conditions of unknown origin.
Studies suggest that chronic pain is the most prevalent reason for which medical marijuana is given to patients. This is the best example of how a substance is wrongly assumed to be harmful, but in fact is beneficial.