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How does medical cannabis help with chronic pain relief?

It's no secret that chronic pain can be debilitating, curtailing the zest of life and painting our existence a shade of grey. Traditional medicines, although effective to an extent, often come with side effects that are sometimes as harrowing as the pain itself. In recent years, one alternative has risen to the fore, offering potential without the perils: medical cannabis.

Today, we will dive into understanding how medical cannabis can aid those living with chronic pain, breaking down its medicinal properties and explaining how it works within our bodies. We hope you find comfort in the information that follows and are able to use it to make informed health decisions.

Decoding The Science: Cannabinoids in Pain Relief

Cannabinoids, the active ingredients in cannabis, are the primary compounds that gift the plant its therapeutic potential. The plant produces an enormous range of chemical compounds, chief among for medicinal purposes being the group referred to as cannabinoids, the most prominent of which are THC and CBD.

Researchers believe that the therapeutic effects of these cannabinoids largely hinge on their interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signalling system that is crucial for maintaining homeostasis, or internal bodily balance.

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with the receptors of the ECS, potentially influencing various bodily functions, including pain and inflammation, mood regulation, appetite, stress relief and anxiety. Depending on the type of cannabinoid, different benefits can be achieved.

The Diverse Applications of Medical Cannabis

Understandably, the efficacy of cannabis on chronic pain would pivot the public interest toward its potential benefits. Private clinics can prescribe medical cannabis for a number of conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, and PTSD. Yet, the prescribing doctor needs to be convinced that it is the appropriate course for their patient's unique circumstances.

Nonetheless, the applications of medical cannabis are not restricted to pain relief. Numerous studies have demonstrated its potential in the treatment of a multitude of health conditions, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis pain, lower back pain, neck pain, and neuropathic pain (nerve pain). People with epilepsy and anxiety have found relief in CBD-only products.

Medical Cannabis: A Safer Alternative?

Medical cannabis has been considered generally safe, and in the palliative care context, it appears to be a safer option than opioids. A significant amount of research indicates that cannabis might help people recover from opioid addiction, a prevalent issue in the western world. THC and other cannabinoids may slow the growth of certain cancer cells, providing another potential avenue for medical cannabis use.

Long-term cannabis use can carry minimal risks, such as potential mental health changes. However, these risks are extremely low and more often tied to patients with pre-existing conditions. The doctor prescribing medical cannabis will discuss potential side effects and risks with patients. As a precaution, patients usually begin with a low dosage that gradually increases over time – mitigating the risk of unpleasant effects.

The Resistance and Progress

Legal and government restrictions have historically hindered rigorous testing of cannabis as a medicine, leading to limited clinical research. Even so, progress is palpable. For example, the Food and Drug Administration has approved CBD oil in reducing seizures by 39% in children with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.

Several pharmaceutical drugs based on cannabis have been made available for medical use, even while the use of herbal cannabis in medicine remains controversial. However, the continued endeavours of scientists and increasing shifts in societal and governmental perspectives are opening new doors every day, exploring the full medicinal potential of cannabis.

There is no doubt that the momentum for medical cannabis is growing. Yet, it's important to remember that patient needs and circumstances should guide the decision to use it. As always, consultancy with a knowledgeable healthcare provider is the key to making the best decision for one's health.

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