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The Benefits of Cannabis for Chronic Pain Management: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

The use of cannabis for chronic pain management has been a topic of debate and research for many years. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis may have significant benefits for those with chronic pain. In this article, we will review the current state of research on the use of cannabis for chronic pain.


Cannabis is a plant that has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. It contains over 100 different cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis and is responsible for the “high” associated with its use. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and has been shown to have a number of therapeutic effects, including pain relief.


Chronic pain is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is defined as pain that persists for more than three months and is often accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression (Meier, C. et al., 2019). Chronic pain can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, making it important to explore alternative treatment options.


There have been numerous studies conducted on the use of cannabis for chronic pain, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 28 studies found that cannabis was effective in reducing chronic pain in patients with conditions such as neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis (Boehnke, K. et al., 2016). Another study found that patients who used cannabis for pain management reported a 64% reduction in their pain levels (Lynch, M. & Campbell, F., 2011).


One of the main benefits of using cannabis for chronic pain is that it can help to reduce the use of opioid pain medications. Opioids are highly addictive and can have a number of serious side effects, including overdose and death (Meier, C. et al., 2019). In states where medical cannabis is legal, there has been a significant reduction in opioid prescriptions and a corresponding decrease in opioid-related deaths (Bradford, A.C. & Bradford, W.D., 2016).


Another benefit of using cannabis for chronic pain is that it can help to improve sleep. Chronic pain can disrupt sleep, leading to feelings of fatigue and decreased quality of life. However, a study found that patients who used cannabis for pain management reported improved sleep quality and increased feelings of relaxation (Hasenauer, C. et al., 2014).


In conclusion, the use of cannabis for chronic pain management has a growing body of evidence to support its efficacy. It has been shown to be effective in reducing pain, reducing the use of opioid pain medications, and improving sleep. While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of cannabis for chronic pain, it is clear that it holds great promise as a treatment option for those with chronic pain.


References:


Boehnke, K., Litinas, E., & Clauw, D. J. (2016). Medical cannabis use is associated with decreased opiate medication use in a retrospective cross-sectional survey of patients with chronic pain. Journal of Pain, 17(6), 739-744.


Bradford, A. C., & Bradford, W. D. (2016). Medical marijuana laws reduce prescription medication use in Medicare Part D. Health Affairs, 35(7), 1230-1236.


Hasenauer, C., Storr, M., Schubert-Zsilavecz, M., & Kopp, B. (2014). Cannabis and sleep: a review of the Literature. Current Psychiatry Reports, 16(4), 437.


Lynch, M. E., & Campbell, F. (2011). Cannabinoids for treatment of chronic non-cancer pain; a systematic review of randomized trials. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 72(5), 735-744.


Meier, C., Finke, J., & Di Marzo, V. (2019). The endocannabinoid system and pain. Handb Exp Pharmacol, 240, 93-124.



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