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Marijuana's Effectiveness In Pain Management Essay

1375 words - 6 pages

Marijuana has a long medical history, ranging from its anecdotal use in ancient times, through medical prescribing in the 19th and early 20th centuries to modern. "The first record of cannabis as a medicine can be found in the oldest Chinese pharmacopeia, Shen Nag Ben Cao Jing, written in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD to 220 AD). It was indicated for rheumatic pain, malaria, constipation, and disorders of the female reproductive system" (Greenwell, 2012, Vol. 26 Issue 1). Pain is one of the most common reasons that medical cannabis is recommended. "Scientists have long known that tetrahydracannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, is an effective pain killer" (Mcdonagh, 2003). Studies of medical marijuana show significant improvement in various types of pain. "Marijuana appears to exert its pain relieving effects by acting on certain sites in the brain and spinal nerves. These specific sites are called cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoid compound connects to these receptors, much like two puzzle pieces fitting together. Once, joined, the receptor alters the way the brain cell or nerve cell functions. This alteration of function changes the way the cell perceives painful stimulus, often reducing the intensity of pain that is interpreted by the brain" (Greenwell, 2012, Vol. 26 Issue 1). "The effect that cannabinoid compounds have on the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) found in the brain can create varying pharmacologic responses based on formulation and patient characteristics" (Borgelt, Franson, & Nussbaum, 2013). Several small clinical studies have confirmed the usefulness of THC, which at doses of 15 to 20mg was found to be comparable to 60 to 120mg pharmaceutical painkillers. But which form of pain management is safer? Marijuana is more effective than pharmaceutical drugs, and over the counter medications, specifically in pain management.
"Marijuana is well studied in the scientific and medical literature and clearly has effective pain relieving properties" (Fishman, 2007). Research focused on marijuana has increasingly indicated important connections to pain experience, including use for the management of pain-related symptoms and medical illness. "Various forms of medicinal cannabis have provided mostly positive responses for patients with different types of pain: Neuropathic, chronic, postoperative, and that related to fibromyalgia, rhematoid arthritis, mutiple sclerosis and cancer" (Borgelt, Franson, & Nussbaum, 2013). In a study outlined in the article The Pharmacologic and Clinical Effects of Medical Cannabis, which evaluated smoked cannabis compared to placebo, significant improvements in pain were observed. The study included 56 patients and used cigarettes wtih varying THC contents. In general, a higher THC content (up to 9.4%) appears to be more effective for pain relief (Borgelt, Franson, & Nussbaum, 2013).
Jerome P. Kassirer, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine stated in an editorial...

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