In recent years, medical cannabis has been gaining popularity as a possible means to relieve symptoms associated with several diseases. Some of these include diseases that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and cancer treatments like chemotherapy. Before we discuss the use of medical cannabis in pain management, let’s take a look at medical cannabis and the science behind its use.
What is Medical Cannabis?
Medical cannabis is a plant-based medicine that contains compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds can interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in various physiological processes, including pain perception.
Medical cannabis is used to describe the use of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, as a medical treatment for many conditions and symptoms. Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, but modern medicine has only recently started to recognise the potential benefits of using cannabis as a treatment for various medical conditions, including chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and more.
In many cases, medical cannabis is used as an alternative to traditional medications, particularly when those medications are ineffective or have unwanted side effects. Medical cannabis can be taken in various forms, including as a pill, oil or vaporised liquid, and is typically prescribed and monitored by a doctor.
How Does Medical Cannabis Work?
The human body has a system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that plays a role in various functions, including pain, mood and appetite. The ECS is made of receptors throughout the body, including in the brain, immune system and various organs. When someone consumes medical cannabis, the active ingredients in the plant, called cannabinoids, interact with the receptors in the ECS to produce various effects.
One of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects. THC activates the CB1 receptors in the brain, which can alter mood, memory and appetite. However, using THC in carefully controlled doses can offer the healing benefits of the compound without its mood-altering effects.
Another important cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which does not produce psychoactive effects and is believed to have several potential medicinal benefits.
How Can Medical Cannabis Help in Managing Pain?
Cannabis has been used for centuries as a pain reliever, and modern research has begun to confirm the effectiveness of certain cannabinoids in reducing pain. Both THC and CBD are believed to have pain-relieving properties.
As mentioned above, THC activates the CB1 receptors in the brain, which can alter pain perception and reduce pain intensity. CBD, on the other hand, may reduce inflammation, which can also help reduce pain. In addition, CBD has been shown to have the ability to reduce the activity of certain enzymes that contribute to inflammation and pain.
Some studies have suggested that medical cannabis may reduce chronic pain, including chronic back pain. A systematic review of 29 studies found that medical cannabis was associated with a statistically significant reduction in chronic pain. Other studies have also found that medical cannabis may effectively reduce chronic back pain.
One study that looked at the use of cannabis for chronic back pain in adults found that after just four weeks of treatment, participants experienced significant reductions in pain and improved overall function. Another study found that cannabis was associated with a significant reduction in chronic non-cancer pain, including back pain.
Another study from the European Journal of Pain found that an oral spray containing THC and CBD, two of the main compounds found in cannabis, was effective in reducing pain and improving sleep quality in people with chronic neuropathic pain.
However, it is important to note that medical cannabis is not a one-size-fits-all treatment for pain, and it may not be effective for everyone. But for some people, it may be an effective way to manage pain that is not well-controlled by other medicines. It is important for patients to work with their doctor or medical cannabis specialist to determine the best plan for their individual needs.
How MyAccess Clinics Can Help
At MyAccess Clinics, we pride ourselves on our professional, respectful and empathetic approach to patient care. Our expert medical cannabis specialists are renowned experts in the field and can help you select a treatment plan best suited for your needs. We offer virtual appointments using a secure video platform, allowing you to consult with our specialists from the comfort of your own home. Whether you need medical cannabis for insomnia, cannabis for arthritis pain or for other sleep or chronic pain conditions, the specialists at MyAccess Clinics are here to help. Just book an initial consultation with us to find out your eligibility for our medical cannabis program.