Cannabis is a pain killer. This has been widely known for thousands of years. Even without all the modern scientific data to reinforce it, cannabis is clearly, indisputably a pain killer. Anyone who has ever had cannabis while hungover, or while they have a headache, can attest to this fact. It relaxes your muscles. If you have eye strain it relaxes your eyes.
Marinol For Pain
In the 1980s and 1990s a synthetic form of THC called Marinol was given to chemotherapy and AIDS patients as an alternative to smoking a joint. It was intended by the U.S. government to kill off the medical cannabis movement in the (ahem) bud. Even back then the government knew that cannabis was genuine medicine. As early as the mid-1970s, scientists had discovered – unwittingly – that THC killed cancer cells. This ground-breaking discovery was ironically made during a Nixon-funded research project supposed to prove that cannabis caused cancer.
By the 1980s, and in the midst of the HIV epidemic that hit America, cannabis was widely used by many patients as a way of alleviating the nausea, wasting and pain of that disease. And as medical use grew, the government became aware that if a pharmaceutical product was not created that worked just as well as real cannabis then medical cannabis legalisation was an inevitability.
So research and development was undertaken to create a synthetic form of cannabis, which was, of course, Marinol. Marinol was 100% THC.
While the idea of a 100% THC medication seems insane to us now, bear in mind that thirty years ago the only cannabinoid we had any real knowledge of was THC. THC was presumed to be the “active ingredient” of cannabis – as in, responsible for all the effects, both positive and negative.
In hindsight it’s easy to see why Marinol proved such a disaster. Pure THC has some medicinal qualities, including reducing nausea and killing cancer cells, but taking THC without CBD is a rough experience. Many people have had certain modern-day strains of cannabis which are about 25% THC and less than 1% CBD. They will attest to the paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, problems with short-term memory that can follow. The side effects of THC are real and genuinely problematic.
Plus, of course, without the CBD you immediately lose much of the pain killing power of cannabis.
CBD Counteracts THC
One of the many things we know now that we didn’t know back then was the way CBD counteracts every one of those side effects. The paranoia and unease of THC is counteracted by the feeling of relaxation and peace of mind afforded by CBD. The memory problems caused by THC are reversed when CBD is taken.
Mother Nature has created a wonderfully balanced plant in cannabis. And so when man went into a lab and created Marinol he wrecked that balance, and created an unusable and useless product.
Of course when the AIDS and chemo patients discovered how useless and damaging Marinol was they returned to illegal cannabis, and the U.S. government did nothing further to help them.
We now understand that THC is not THE active ingredient of cannabis. It is only one of dozens of active ingredients. And in relation to pain, CBD appears to be the most important single compound.
CBD: Not Just For Headaches
What is becoming clear is that CBD is not just a mild pain killer. It isn’t merely an alternative to paracetamol. Yes, it can get rid of a stubborn headache, and ease a hangover. But it can do much, much more.
It can be used to treat severe migraines, the effects of chemotherapy, the pain of multiple sclerosis, of fibromyalgia, of and dozens of other chronic pain conditions – conditions which blight millions of lives.
CBD & Pain: What The Science Says
Let’s take a closer look at some of the science. This will only cover a fraction of the studies that have been done into the effects of CBD on pain, but hopefully enough to convince any doubters out there of the veracity of cannabinoids.
This study into the neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis found that a THC/CBD spray was effective at treating the pain.
A study into Sativex, which is a cannabis extract made by GW Pharaceuticals and sold for a scandalous price, showed it was also effective for the “treatment of symptoms of multiple sclerosis, notably spasticity and neuropathic pain, as well as the treatment of neuropathic pain of other aetiologies”.
This study, also into Sativex, proved it was effective for neuropathic pain caused by MS. Patients also found that with Sativex “the initial pain relief was maintained without dose escalation”.
In 2012 this study was published. It was an analysis of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, chiefly CBD, to determine their efficacy. The authors concluded that: “cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain”.
Finally, this study which looked into ways of reducing chronic inflammation and pain ran tests on rats. The authors concluded that, “the results indicate a potential for therapeutic use of cannabidiol in chronic painful states.”
I could go on. There have been dozens of studies on both THC/CBD and CBD. The evidence is overwhelming and indisputable. CBD is a wonderfully powerful and unique pain killer.
The Opiate Epidemic
In the last decade we have seen an explosion in the amount of opiates being used and abused. The side effects of these drugs can be lethal, and the addiction can lead to life-long misery, a never ending dark night of the soul.
Given all that we know about the devastation these opiates are doing to millions of us, and given what science is telling us about the non-addictive, non-lethal cannabinoid alternatives, there can be no doubt that something must be done. Doctors need to be taught about the endocannabinoid system, and the role it plays in our health.
As far as pain is concerned, doctors must re-evaluate. When someone is suffering from a chronic pain condition the first course of treatment should not be an opiate. It should be a cannabinoid.
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