The Uses Of Medical Marijuana In Treating Pain

2012-11-23 | |
Last updated: 2015-01-09

In medical science, the search is always on for new medications to treat what ails us. Researchers in universities and health centers evaluate many different chemicals to understand their potential uses in improving health. Pharmaceutical companies are eager to develop and make new medications available because they understand the enormous payback that can be realized by treating illness and suffering. And yet, some potentially beneficial medications are not fully investigated or put to use because of politics.

Medical marijuana is one example of a medication affected by beliefs.

Because of the controversy associated with marijuana and the unwillingness by many governments to allow even controlled access to the substance, many people who could legitimately benefit from the drug are prevented from using it. Alternatively, they must access such drugs illegally. At the same time, legitimate research into the health benefits of the medication are also thwarted. This is unfortunate because to date, the limited research into medical marijuana or cannabis has found numerous health benefits.

One particularly beneficial use of marijuana is for treating and managing pain.

How Many People Use Medical Marijuana?

Considering that the drug is illegal or heavily regulated in most locations, it is hard to get accurate statistics regarding the use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, researchers in the UK estimated that between 1 and 4% of those with Multiple Sclerosis in the country are using the drug. In a study published in June, 2012 from the McGill University Health Center, researchers looking at fibromyalgia patients found that 13% of were using the drug to manage pain from the disease.

Unfortunately, the study also found that 10% of all fibromyalgia patients obtain the drug illegally.

How Is Medical Marijuana Currently Used?

Since the complete list of active ingredients from marijuana have not been extracted for use in the form of a pill or injection, users of medical marijuana typically get the medical dose through eating or smoking the marijuana leaves. While the well-known chemical THC has been extracted from marijuana, research has found that it lacks the effectiveness seen when the marijuana plant is used directly. When marijuana is used in foods, it can be baked in directly or added using oils that have absorbed the active ingredients.

Problems With Dose Size

The problematic side effect of these approaches is that the dose used can vary considerably causing some health risks. Smoking also affects health negatively given that breathing smoke always exposes a person to toxic chemicals. Fortunately, marijuana is not significantly toxic so the medical health risks are not serious.

A newer approach that allows for more consistent doses and less exposure to toxic chemicals is the use of an inhaler. In this case, the plant is heated but not burned and the beneficial chemicals come out in vapor form. They then enter the body through the lungs but without being accompanied by the toxic byproducts of burning the leaves.

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Category: Healthcare Politics, Medical Research, Medical Treatment

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