Marijuana And Pain / Analgesia


The Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics published an article by researchers from GW Pharmaceuticals in the U.K. (Vol. 1, No. 3/4, 2001, pp. 183-205) which stated:

“In practice it has been found that extracts of cannabis [processed whole plant compounds] provide greater relief of pain than the equivalent amount of cannabinoid given as a single chemical entity [such as Marinol].”
2001 Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics

The 1999 Institute of Medicine report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, notes on page 145:

“In conclusion, the available evidence from animal and human studies indicates that cannabinoids can have a substantial analgesic effect.”
1999 Institute of Medicine

The Mayo Clinic states in their Aug. 25, 2006 article “Marijuana as Medicine: Consider the Pros and Cons,” published on its website:

“People widely used marijuana for pain relief in the 1800s, and several studies have found that cannabinoids have analgesic effects. In fact, THC may work as well in treating cancer pain as codeine, a mild pain reliever. Cannabinoids also appear to enhance the effects of opiate pain medications to provide pain relief at lower dosages.

Researchers currently are developing new medications based on cannabis to treat pain.”
Aug. 25, 2006 Mayo Clinic

Janet E. Joy, Ph.D. and Alison Mack, in the Institute of Medicine funded book Marijuana As Medicine?: The Science Beyond the Controversy, (National Academy Press: 2000), state on page 79:

“Cannabinoids have shown significant promise in basic experiments on pain. Peripheral nerves that detect pain sensations contain abundant receptors for cannabinoids, and cannabinoids appear to block peripheral nerve pain in experimental animals.

Even more encouraging, basic studies suggest that opiates and cannabinoids suppress pain through different mechanisms. If that is the case, marijuana-based medicines could perhaps be combined with opiates to boost their pain-relieving power while limiting their side effects.

But because of the ethical and logistical difficulties of conducting pain experiments on human volunteers, marijuana’s potential to relieve pain has yet to be conclusively confirmed in the clinic.”
2000 Janet Joy Alison Mack

Cheryl Jay, M.D. et al. reported in their presentation of their study on marijuana and HIV-related nerve pain at the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in February 2004:

“Our endpoint was a 30% reduction in average daily pain, which is a pretty typical standard used in pain studies, and is considered a clinically meaningful amount of pain relief…

Twelve out of the 16 patients reached the study endpoint.”
February, 2004 Cheryl Jay

David Hadorn, M.D., Ph.D., wrote in his July 17, document “Use of Cannabis Medicines in Clinical Practice”:

“As a physician, I am concerned that a very large number of patients with chronic pain are receiving inadequate treatment, in part because physician’s therapeutic options have largely been limited to opiate-based analgesics and a handful of ancillary drugs, such as anti-epileptics and anti-depressants.

Scientists have known for many years that cannabinoids (the major active ingredients in cannabis medicines) are potent pain relievers, and that they act synergistically with opiates to increase the degree of pain relief. The addition of cannabis medicines to therapeutic regimens can reduce the need for opiates by 50 percent or more in many patients (while also reducing side effects such as constipation that opiates commonly produce).”
July 17, 2003 David Hadorn

Denis Petro, M.D. wrote in his 1997 paper “Spasticity and Chronic Pain” published in the 1997 book Cannabis in Medical Practice – A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana:

“The evidence in support of cannabis as a treatment for pain exists both in preclinical animal studies and in a small number of clinical trials. Since cannabis contains many active cannabinoids in varying amounts in differing plants, a coherent recommendation concerning use against pain symptoms is lacking….

Considering the alternative of addicting drugs such as the opiate analgesics, patients may opt for the relative safety of cannabis.

Fatal overdose continues to be a significant problem with opiates. The absence of any fatalities associated with cannabis remains an astonishing fact. The safety profile of cannabis is such as to allow the clinician to consider this treatment option in selected cases, such as cancer and severe chronic pain with manifestations such as depression, weight loss, or intolerance of opiates.”
1997 Denis Petro

Americans for Safe Access states in their brochure Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain, available on their website as of May 4, 2006:

“Cannabis can serve at least two important roles in safe, effective pain management. It can provide relief from the pain itself (either alone or in combination with other analgesics), and it can control the nausea associated with taking opiod drugs, as well as the nausea, vomiting and dizziness that often accompany severe, prolonged pain.”
May 4, 2006 Americans for Safe Access

GW Pharmaceuticals in the U.K. states on their website, accessed in May, 2002:

“Evidence indicates that inhaled [smoked or vaporized] cannabis and cannabinoids appears to be suitable alternatives for patients suffering from various types of chronic pain, especially those suffering from neuropathic pain that is unresponsive to traditional analgesics like opioids and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

In addition, cannabis may offer fewer negative side effects than opioids, which can be addictive, and NSAIDS, which can induce stomach ulcers, bleeding, and kidney failure.

Another potential benefit of cannabis as a pain reliever is that patients can precisely control the dose they take into their bodies by titration [smoking], and experience more rapid relief than they can with oral medications.”
May, 2002 GW Pharmaceuticals

Eric Johnson, a medical marijuana user, wrote in a letter published Feb. 23, 2003 by the Los Angeles Times :

“I have a severe neuromuscular disease called Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathy, also known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. It is a painful degenerative disease–much like multiple sclerosis. Unless I can smoke or eat pot, I am in excruciating pain from morning to night. In addition to cannabis, I use two different opiate medications.

Given the pain relief provided by marijuana, I am able to bicycle great distances in the Netherlands and pursue my hobby of digital photography. I also can attend concerts, movies and plays, and remain comfortable enough to sit through entire performances.”
Feb. 23, 2003 Eric Johnson
Continuing Medical Education, Inc. (CME), responding to a treatment question from an M.D., asking if recommending marijuana for pain for a 72- year-old patient is medically sound, posted its response to it’s website in January, 2000:

“It is established that marijuana does ease the pain of cancer and the nausea of cancer chemotherapy. So, to directly address your question: It is a medically sound treatment.”
January, 2000 Continuing Medical Education

Copyright: 2010