Ever see the movie “Reality Bites”? This line is when the characters are all sitting around doing hits off of marijuana and using a can as a bong. It was funny in the movie but marijuana has been coming up all around me now. Living in Colorado, the laws for marijuana have changed over the last few years. It is now not illegal to have less than an ounce on you and not be ticketed and fine. All throughout Colorado there are now marijuana dispensaries lining streets like 7-11. Making it so easy for those with chronic pain to get marijuana to use to help take away daily pain from headaches to cancer, from insomnia to hospice care, the list is long. But the real question is, does it help and should you try it.
I haven’t tried marijuana for chronic pain. I haven’t tried marijuana for any health issues. I have tried marijuana for the fun of it, if that is what you want to call it. But lately I have been reading a lot of articles and doing research on whether or not cannabis, marijuana, Maryjane, hash, or whatever you want to call it, is helping those with chronic pain. According to this 2010 article on WebMD;
Three puffs a day of cannabis, better known as marijuana, helps people with chronic nerve pain due to injury or surgery feel less pain and sleep better, a Canadian team has found. It’s been known anecdotally,” says researcher Mark Ware, MD, assistant professor of anesthesia and family medicine at McGill University in Montreal. “About 10% to 15% of patients attending a chronic pain clinic use cannabis as part of their pain [control] strategy,” he tells WebMD.
Dr. Ware did a controlled study with placebo to see if he could show that marijuana could or couldn’t help people with chronic pain. He used 21 participates, men and women with the average age being 45, in controlled study who each participants had knee surgery and during the surgery the surgeon had no choice but to cut a nerve, which leads to chronic pain due to “chronic nerve pain (also called neuropathic pain)”. Each participate was studied for 2 months and used four different strengths of marijuana, including a placebo. Dr. Ware rotated each strength throughout the study so the participate didn’t know what strength he/she was getting. The marijuana was put into a gel capsule and the participants were told to smoke the capsule three times a day, inhaling for 5 seconds. They would inhale the marijuana for just three times a day for five days. At the end of five days, the participants were asked to rate their pain on the 10 scale, zero being no pain and ten being their worst ever pain.
At the end of the study, participants that used the marijuana that was 9.4% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) had the most significant amount of pain relief that there was then at 6% and 2%. There wasn’t a great amount of difference, but there was a drop in their chronic pain. And imagine if the participate was to use marijuana that came from off the street, that marijuana is usually at a 10% to 15% THC ratio. Which could lead to more of it being a pain reliever.
This is just one study that prove that there is analgesic components to marijuana and it does help to relieve pain. Another study that I read says:
“If you are suffering from chronic pain, you may experience greater relief if your doctors add cannabinoids – the main ingredient in cannabis or medical marijuana – to an opiates-only treatment. Cannabis has therapeutic properties not replicated by other available medications – and side effects of cannabis are typically less severe than ones associated with common prescription medications”.
There are many other studies out there that show the medical marijuana used with opioid-only base treatment will give the patient more relief from the chronic pain. I believe that as long as you are under the care of you doctor and he/she agrees with the studies shows, then I am all for adding medical marijuana to your treatment plan. There are way too many americans, numbers are saying about 100 million, that now suffer with chronic pain for us not to look at all aspects of treatment out there.
Here is the “official” list of medical conditions that the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted the following symptoms or conditions under Appendix IV of their Nov. 2002 report titled “Descriptions of Allowable Conditions under State Medical Marijuana Laws”:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Wasting Syndrome”
I have two of these disease/symptoms from this list and I am willing to try just about anything to not have to be in the amount of pain that I can be in on any giving day. I believe that there are enough studies to show that medical marijuana could help me get through life a little better. And isn’t that what life is all about anyways?