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Chronic Pain & Cannabis from: (http://www.ukcia.org/medical/pain.html)

Severe chronic pain is usually treated with opiates, but these are addictive, and tolerance develops so that the dose has to be increased. The risk of severe side effects is great, and additionally the user feels drugged, and finds it difficult to function properly. Family life may suffer as patients find it hard to relate to other people, and even reading to children is difficult. Synthetic analgesics are non-addictive but they are not powerful enough.

Cannabis has fewer side effects than other analgesics, and users report it "rounds off" the pain quickly after smoking. Some people have used it to control pain for 20 years or more, and many report that they were able to kick their addiction to opiates with small amounts of cannabis. One strange fact is that more experienced users get a greater pain-relieving effect from cannabis than novices. Experienced users also are able to function normally and ignore the psychoactive effects. Cannabis may be better at controlling the different types of pain.

Cannabis has had a long history of use as an analgesic, and was widely used in 19th century Britain, including in the royal household. Dr. J. Russell Reynolds, Fellow of the Royal Society and Physician to Queen Victoria reported in the Lancet in 1890 that he had been prescribing cannabis for 30 years and considered it "one of the most valuable medicines we possess". According to Reynolds indian hemp remained effective as an analgesic for months and even years without an increase in the dose.

Severe chronic pain is usually treated with opiates, but these are addictive, and tolerance develops so that the dose has to be increased. The risk of severe side effects is great, and additionally the user feels drugged, and finds it difficult to function properly. Family life may suffer as patients find it hard to relate to other people, and even reading to children is difficult. Synthetic analgesics are non-addictive but they are not powerful enough.

Cannabis has fewer side effects than other analgesics, and users report it "rounds off" the pain quickly after smoking. Some people have used it to control pain for 20 years or more, and many report that they were able to kick their addiction to opiates with small amounts of cannabis. One strange fact is that more experienced users get a greater pain-relieving effect from cannabis than novices. Experienced users also are able to function normally and ignore the psychoactive effects. Cannabis may be better at controlling the different types of pain.

Cannabis has had a long history of use as an analgesic, and was widely used in 19th century Britain, including in the royal household. Dr. J. Russell Reynolds, Fellow of the Royal Society and Physician to Queen Victoria reported in the Lancet in 1890 that he had been prescribing cannabis for 30 years and considered it "one of the most valuable medicines we possess". According to Reynolds indian hemp remained effective as an analgesic for months and even years without an increase in the dose.

Scientific Evidence

Despite the long history of use of cannabis as an analgesic, and the obvious problems with synthetic drugs, the War on Drugs prevented people from reconsidering cannabis until 1975 when three studies were published.

At the University of Iowa Noyes et al. gave oral THC or a placebo at random to hospitalised cancer patients who were in severe pain. The THC relieved pain for several hours at very low doses and longer periods at higher doses. It also acted as a sedative at the higher dose. It had fewer physical side effects than other commonly used analgesics.

Then Noyes et al. conducted another study. This time they gave codeine, THC and placebo to 36 patients with advanced cancer. Codeine and cannabis were equally effective, but some patients found the psychoactive effects of THC uncomfortable. However these people did not know they were going to take a psychoactive drug and were obviously frightened. If they had been told beforehand perhaps they wouldn't have been uncomfortable.

In Canada Milstein et al. studied the analgesic effect of smoked cannabis in normal subjects. Half of them had used cannabis before. The researchers caused pain by pressing onto the subjects thumbnails. The subjects were able to withstand more pressure after they had smoked cannabis. Strangely, the analgesic effect was greater in the experienced users.


Link to Patient's Testimonies and site where this information was obtained

 References

Reynolds J.R. (1890) Therapeutic uses and toxic effects of Cannabis indica. Lancet 1: 637

Noyes R., Brunk S.F., Baram D.A. and Canter A. (1975) Analgesic effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 15: 139-143.
Noyes R., Brunk S.F., Avery D.H. and Canter A. (1975) The analgesic properties of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and codeine. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 18: 84-89.
Milstein S.L., MacCannell K., Karr, G. and Clark S. (1975) Marijuana-produced changes in pain tolerance: Experienced and non-experienced subjects. International Pharmacopsychiatry 10: 177-182.

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