Specialized anesthesiologists have traditionally cared for patients with chronic pain. The term for these doctors eventually became pain specialists. Their solution for treating patients is typically steroids and incredibly strong opiates. Since medical marijuana has become available, chronic pain sufferers have more options from which to seek solace. More patients are turning away from traditional treatment and opting for a more natural form of relief.
Some patients have had no choice but to use marijuana for relief. Jeanette Smith, a Maine resident, explains that Governor LePage “literally said Medicaid patients abused narcotics and can only be on them for 15 days in a 12-month period.” Prior to this change, she “had been [taking] Vicodin every four hours for two years.” Smith added, “My doctor gave me the choice of Methadone for two years and then medical marijuana, or straight to medical marijuana.” She chose to use medical marijuana. When asked how she is doing, she exclaimed, “Great! I am no longer diabetic and have lost 100 pounds since January 2015!”
There are other examples of patients who had no choice. According to a physician’s assistant (PA) who works at a pain management clinic in Oregon, patients who have been on opiate pain relief medication for many years are being told they must quit. The doctor’s reasoning is, “There are no studies about the long-term effects on older adults or people who have been on opiates for extended periods.” The PA says the clinic is encouraging patients to take psychological courses to learn how to better deal with their pain. The clinic is also recommending the book Managing Your Pain Before It Manages You by Margaret A. Caudill M.D., PhD., M.P.H. The book includes reading materials, journaling forms and “free audio downloads of guided relaxation exercises.” If a patient asks about medical marijuana, the PA will discuss it as an option.
For many people, the medication that has prescribed by their physician just does not work, or it incapacitates them, so their lives are not fulfilling. Many pain-management patients have had to give up driving and spending time with family and friends. Medical marijuana can change this for many patients. However, sometimes medical marijuana is not an option.
There are still many states without medical marijuana laws in place. For instance, a woman in Tennessee is looking forward to the time when she can get off of the ineffective medication prescribed for her. She uses pain medication for a back injury sustained when she was a child and for the fibromyalgia symptoms she suffers daily. According to her posts on a medical marijuana Facebook page, she has extensively researched the medicinal use of this drug. This woman does not approve of the recreational use of pot, however, she does believe that medicinal use is acceptable. Currently, Tennessee is debating a medical cannabis law for critically ill patients only.
Marijuana is another word for Cannabis, in which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary ingredient, responsible for getting a person high or giving the feeling of being mentally altered. However, getting high is not the only use for THC. Marijuana offers a wide assortment of medical benefits for chronic pain suffers, and its use could bring solace. This medication is commonly used for the treatment of depression, nausea, fibromyalgia and more. Each state with medical cannabis laws in place have varied regulations regarding which symptoms or illnesses are acceptable. For example, Maine allows sufferers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), whereas Colorado recently passed a law which prohibits PTSD as an adequate cause for obtaining a medical marijuana card (MMC).
There is another component in Cannabisncalled cannabinoid (CBD), one of the 400-plus compounds found in marijuana. THC and CBD are processed differently by the body. When a strain of marijuana is cultured to have higher CBD levels, it serves well as a medication.
According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, in an article published in 2013, the benefits of CBD have only been realized in animals. The reason for this is there have been very few CBD studies which include humans. According to the report, the researchers have found several medical benefits for CBD; it reduces nausea and vomiting, it has anti-oxidant features, it can suppress seizures, it has antipsychotic properties and more.
There are several ways to use medical cannabis. The most common method of ingestion is smoking, which allows the medicine to enter the body and offers the “quickest onset.” Vaporizing, or vaping, is another method of smoking marijuana. Since a vaporizer creates vapor, there is a reduced risk of choking on the medication upon inhaling. The onset is also fast. Some prefer vaporizing because it creates no odor and no smoke, which offers discretion.
Additionally, there are edibles or “Medibles.” These are products such as marijunana-infused food, candies, and beverages. These provide a longer lasting source of relief. However, edibles take longer to have the relieving effect desired.
Another method is a liquid form of medication called a tincture. The tincture is taken by mouth using a dropper. It is relatively odorless, discreet, easily transported and is a preferred choice for daytime use, as there is none of the visible cloud that is associated with smoking. Additionally, there is a topical rub infused with marijuana, which can also be used to provide chronic pain sufferers solace and long-term pain relief.
By Cathy Milne
Edited by Jennifer Pfalz
Leaf Science: 5 Must-Know Facts About Cannabidiol (CBD)
Leaf Science: 6 Surprising Facts About THC
Wellness Connection: Medical Cannabis
Facebook: Medical Marijuana Pages
THE GILFORD PRESS: Managing Pain Before It Manages You; Third Edition
Interview with J.Smith
Article Photo Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Photo Courtesy of Dank Depot’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License