Researchers are using an app to check how cannabis products available in the market affect pain intensity.
Researchers from the University of New Mexico used the largest real-time database with recordings of the effects of commercially available cannabis products to investigate whether cannabis alleviates pain. They found strong evidence, saying that the average user reported having up to a three-point drop in pain on a scale of 0-10 once they used cannabis.
The opioid epidemic across the US & Canada is not relenting. At the same time, the alternative chronic pain treatment solutions available to the public are relatively few. Cannabis is stepping in to fill the void, especially after scientists found conclusive evidence that it actually alleviates pain with few negative side effects.
Chronic pain is a silent epidemic in the US & Canada, affecting over 20% of the adult population and creating a financial burden that is more than that of cancer and heart diseases combined.
The US has in the recent past fallen victim to an oversubscription of opioid medication and heroin use, leading to death, says Jacob Miguel vigil, a lead investigator of the study. Their study titled “The Effectiveness of Self Directed Medical Cannabis Treatment for Pain” was published in the complementary Therapies in Medicine Journal. Vigil says that cannabis is the ideal alternative to opioids for most people as it leaves them with minimal negative side effects.
Investigators used the Releaf App, developed by Franco Brockelman, Keenan Keeling and Branden Hall, co-authors of the study. The app allows marijuana consumers to explore the real-time effects of the many cannabis products that are available in the market.
It was released in 2016. Since its launch, the app is the only publicly available tool that educates patients on the effects of different cannabis products, combustion methods, strains as well as THC and CBD effects. It also gives them access to lots of feedback on their health status, clinical outcomes and other information based on their choices.
Apps like Releaf App helps scientists to circumnavigate the challenge of government restrictions to studies on cannabis and its effects. Technically, it’s been hard for scientists to conduct clinical trials on cannabis because of the fact that the drug is classified as a schedule 1 substance.
As such, scientists who are lucky to study cannabis make do with poor quality and low potency samples that are provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
The study’s co-author Sarah Stith says that the DEA could potentially reclassify cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 as it has proven to have medical benefits as demonstrated by various studies, as well as this specific study. Schedule 1 drugs include Heroin and Ecstasy while schedule 2 drugs consist of e.g. cocaine and fentanyl. She said that the reclassification of cannabis could simplify their work as researchers.
Their study found that people who used buds or flowers had the most analgesic relief. The effects have been easer to tell as it gained massive publicity in recent days, and not all was not as effective as THC when it came to pain relief, according to the app. Vigil said that it was possible that cannabis had more components that responded well to pain, other than THC and CBD. These components include terpenes and flavonoids that are only available when someone consumes the dried flower.
Vigil added that the study has effectively concluded that cannabis was a relatively safe and effective solution for pain relief, adding that he has seen most patients moving away from opioids in favour of medical cannabis.
The study’s lead author Xiaoxue Li said that 95% of respondents reported that they experienced pain relief when they used cannabis, regardless of their kind of pain. The study authors, however, cautioned that cannabis consumption carried the risk of addiction and short-term risk of impairment of cognitive and behavioural functions and thus, may not be an effective analgesic treatment for everybody.
Cannabis has a way of alleviating pain suffering. First, it’s an anti-inflammatory drug and activates the brain’s receptors, which are colocalized with opioid receptors. Vigil explains that cannabis with high levels of THC elevates the mood of the victim, distracting them from aversive sensations that are commonly referred to as ‘pain.’
When compared and contrasted to opioid use, which kills more than 115 Americans on a single day, cannabis offers value to its patients. Chronic opioid use comes with social isolation, low immune function, early morbidity and poor quality of life. In contrast, Vigil says that cannabis use is associated with the exact opposite of the above-mentioned outcomes of opioid usage.