Leading Research Studies
Cannabis for Pain Relief
The field of pain medicine is at a crossroads given the epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths from prescription opioids. Cannabis and its active ingredients, cannabinoids, are a much safer therapeutic option. Despite being slowed by legal restrictions and stigma, research continues to show that when used appropriately, cannabis is safe and effective for many forms of chronic pain and other conditions, and has no overdose levels. Current literature indicates many chronic pain patients could be treated with cannabis alone or with lower doses of opioids. To make progress, cannabis needs to be re-branded as a legitimate medicine and rescheduled to a more pharmacologically justifiable class of compounds. This paper discusses the data supporting re-branding and rescheduling of cannabis.
Cannabis and Inflammation
Medical marijuana has been found to be effective at both reducing chronic inflammation and at curtailing the pain associated with inflammatory-related diseases, thanks to its cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabinoids have demonstrated success at reducing inflammation related to a variety of conditions. The cannabinoids in cannabis act upon the cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CB1, CB2), which are involved in the mediation of pain associated with inflammation (Clayton, Marshall, Bountra & O’Shaughnessy, 2002).
Cannabis and Sleep
Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia. Novel studies investigating cannabinoids and obstructive sleep apnea suggest that synthetic cannabinoids such as nabilone and dronabinol may have short-term benefit for sleep apnea due to their modulatory effects on serotonin-mediated apneas. CBD may hold promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness, while nabilone may reduce nightmares associated with PTSD and may improve sleep among patients with chronic pain. Research on cannabis and sleep is in its infancy and has yielded mixed results. Additional controlled and longitudinal research is critical to advance our understanding of research and clinical implications.
Latest Cannabis Research
In 2015, the Italian government authorized the use of cannabis to treat several diseases, including chronic pain generally, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, cachexia and anorexia among AIDS and cancer patients, glaucoma, Tourette syndrome, and certain types of epilepsy. We present the first snapshot of the Italian experience with cannabis use for chronic pain over the initial year of its use.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota health officials say many medical marijuana users report significant reductions in pain. More than 60 percent of the more than 2,200 patients surveyed by the state report benefits from using marijuana in inhaled or pill forms during the first five months after Minnesota approved cannabis to treat pain. The survey also found that 43 percent of doctors observed medical marijuana having a positive effect on patients.
Findings published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine1 indicated that medical cannabis usage among patients 65 years and older significantly improved their chronic pain and overall quality of life. “There is a substantial growth in the use of medical cannabis in recent years, and with the aging of the population, medical cannabis is increasingly used by the elderly,” the study authors wrote. “We aimed to assess the characteristics of elderly people using medical cannabis and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the treatment.”