Marijuana Could Help Patients Reduce Opiates for Pain

UCSF Study Finds Medical Marijuana Could Help Patients Reduce Pain with Opiates | ucsf.edu

This study from December 2011 validates the experience of many pain patients as they gain access to use medical marijuana.

A UCSF study suggests patients with chronic pain may experience greater relief if their doctors add cannabinoids – the main ingredient in cannabis or medical marijuana – to an opiates-only treatment. The findings, from a small-scale study, also suggest that a combined therapy could result in reduced opiate dosages.

In a paper published this month in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, researchers examined the interaction between cannabinoids and opiates in the first human study of its kind. They found the combination of the two components reduced pain more than using opiates alone, similar to results previously found in animal studies

After obtaining opiate levels from patients at the start of the study, researchers exposed them to vaporized cannabis for four consecutive days. On the fifth day, they looked again at the level of opiate in the bloodstream. Because the level of morphine was slightly lower in the patients, and the level of oxycodone was virtually unchanged, “one would expect they would have less relief of pain and what we found that was interesting was that instead of having less pain relief, patients had more pain relief,” Abrams said. “So that was a little surprising.”

The morphine group came in with a pain score of about 35, and on the fifth day, it decreased to 24 – a 33 percent reduction.

The oxycodone group came in with an average pain score of about 44, and it reduced to 34 – a drop of 20 percent.

Overall, patients showed a significant decrease in their pain.

For instance, Delta 9 THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis but cannabis contains about 70 other similar compounds with different effects. One of those is cannabidiol, or CBD. It appears to be very effective against pain and inflammation without creating the “high” created by THC.

The study was supported by funds from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The article above was based on the PubMed article, which points out even more benefits.  The results look suspiciously rosy…

Cannabis as an adjunct to or su… [J Psychoactive Drugs. 2012 Apr-Jun] – PubMed – NCBI

Cannabis as an adjunct to or substitute for opiates in the treatment of chronic pain.

There is a growing body of evidence to support the use of medical cannabis as an adjunct to or substitute for prescription opiates in the treatment of chronic pain. When used in conjunction with opiates, cannabinoids lead to a greater cumulative relief of pain, resulting in a reduction in the use of opiates (and associated side-effects) by patients in a clinical setting.

Additionally, cannabinoids can prevent the development of tolerance to and withdrawal from opiates, and can even rekindle opiate analgesia after a prior dosage has become ineffective. Novel research suggests that cannabis may be useful in the treatment of problematic substance use.

These findings suggest that increasing safe access to medical cannabis may reduce the personal and social harms associated with addiction, particularly in relation to the growing problematic use of pharmaceutical opiates.

Despite a lack of regulatory oversight by federal governments in North America, community-based medical cannabis dispensaries have proven successful at supplying patients with a safe source of cannabis within an environment conducive to healing, and may be reducing the problematic use of pharmaceutical opiates and other potentially harmful substances in their communities.

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