The Guardian published an article on cannabis being used to relieve pain, and the standing of the mystical medical plant in the U.K. Apparently Queen Victoria used marijuana for period pains, and we know doctors in the 19th century used it for a wide spectrum of ailments from anorexia to sexual dysfunction.
A few centuries later, and it is being discovered again. In the U.S. 25 states declared medicinal cannabis legal for conditions included in a list ranging from Aids, to cancer, to seizure, to anorexia and more.
In comparison, in the UK only recognizes medicinal cannabis as useful in treating painful muscle spasms in MS. The oral spray, Sativex, uses THC and CBD, the two main cannabinoids in cannabis, and is the first licensed cannabis medicine in the U.K. Medicinal cannabis doesn’t mean you smoke weed, it means you take proper medicine, but Sativex is too costly for the watchdog ‘Nice’ to recommend, and very few specialists prescribe it.
Drug Policy Reform
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drug Policy Reform called for medical cannabis to be made available for the treatment of chronic pain, vomiting and nausea after chemotherapy, spasticity, and for anxiety. There is sufficient evidence showing ‘natural’ cannabis, or cannabis products, are useful for these conditions says The Guardian. Adequate evidence is available for the use of cannabis in the case of fibromyalgia, PTSD, and sleep disorders. A review of 20,000 references led to the Guardian saying there is sufficient evidence.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a review last year asking the same questions pertaining to the benefits and adverse effects of medical cannabis, and came up with the same conclusion. The only difference being there was “no evidence” for the treatment of anxiety according to JAMA.
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Home Office says NO
The Home Office’s quick response to the report was that cannabis “is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health”. Watchdog Nice says it works in the treatment of MS, and the JAMA review with higher standards than Nice says medical cannabis is of benefit to patients with chronic pain or spasticity due to MS. It states there is some evidence that cannabis helps weight gain in HIV patients, relieves nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, and relieves insomnia.
There is no data on long-term side effects, and psychosis is the most feared side effect. Typical side-effects reported include drowsiness, nausea, paranoia, sweating and euphoria.
Similar benefits are indicated by research whether “medical” or “natural” compounds are used for pain and spasticity, so it does work, but the law says you can’t take it.
Side effects of CBD
Despite the molecular similarity between tetrahydrocannabinol, THC (psychoactive) and cannabidiol, CBD, CBD only reacts with cannabinoid receptors weakly, and at very high dosages of more than 100x that of THC. Therefore, the typical side effects of paranoia or sweating and euphoria caused by THC are not observed with CBD. The difference in the pharmacological properties of CBD accounts for a different safety profile from THC.
Safety and efficacy of Cannabis reported through 25 studies were reviewed, but the studies didn’t identify any significant side effects across a wide range of dosages, including chronic, and acute dose regimes as well as various different modes of administration.
Cannabis for pain
It seems that the only real pain is that cannabis for pain treatment is still doubted, and Cannabis is not widely used instead of opioids. While Cannabis has a good safety profile, opioids do not. The Guardian questions the wisdom of this state of affairs.