Marijuana can ease pain even for longtime sufferers of disease, but the
illegal herb's mind-altering properties make it less than ideal as a
medication.

German researchers now have found that a synthetic version of one of many
marijuana compounds safely reduced chronic nerve pain without impairing
thinking and behavior. If the preliminary findings hold up in larger trials,
capsules containing this compound might one day be prescribed for
hard-to-treat pain.

The principal active ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
That compound has been the most studied, but researchers around the world
are also looking more closely at the plant's other chemical compounds for
potential health benefits. Scores of them belong to a group called
cannabinoids; others include flavonoids, which are thought to have
antioxidant properties.

"It's not a surprise that these cannabinoids have medical benefit," said Dr.
Donald I. Abrams, an AIDS specialist conducting clinical trials of marijuana
at San Francisco General Hospital.

People with cancer, AIDS and other chronic diseases have attested to the
plant's ability to provide relief from nausea and pain.

Previous studies have shown some cannabinoids have limited ability to blunt
acute nerve pain, typically associated with an injury. But the German study
found that a cannabinoid called CT-3 could help sufferers of chronic
neuropathy, who often don't respond to standard medications.

CT-3 first showed promise in animals as an anti-inflammatory and as a
reliever of two aspects of neuropathy: pain and extreme sensitivity to
ordinary sensations.


Pubdate: Mon, 13 Oct 2003
Source: Evansville Courier & Press (IN)
Copyright: 2003 The Evansville Courier
Contact: letters@evansville.net
Website: http://www.courierpress.com/