For a long time now, doctors have recommended opioids for pain relief. These drugs attach to nerve receptors and block pain. However, opioids are not safe for health – using them is exchanging one problem to get another.
These prescription medications bring along the risk of addiction. So much so that up to 29% of patients prescribed opioids misuse them. In fact, in 2017, over 70,000 deaths occurred due to drug overdose. Due to the health crisis caused by these meds, doctors are looking for alternate ways for the treatment for chronic pain.
Some safe cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant show potential. A study that the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine published found that cannabidiol can help with pain relief. This research also said that it could be an effective replacement for opioids.
Cannabidiol for Pain Relief
The cannabis plant has been in medical use for more than 5000 years. However, it isn’t until recently that science has delved into how cannabis can relieve pain. Two flavonoids in the herb, cannflavins A and B help in this regard. These molecules, known as flavonoids, are more effective at treating inflammation than even aspirin.
Cannabidiol, a cannabinoid, found in cannabis has been shown by multiple studies to be efficient at relieving pain. CBD doesn’t make one high, unlike THC, because it doesn’t have psychoactive properties. In fact, one study found that CBD can reduce the cravings and anxiety that come with opioid addiction.
The American Journal of Psychiatry had published this report. Yet people are not willing to try CBD for this purpose as it doesn’t have significant evidence favoring it and regulatory laws are still somewhat stiff. Compared to opioids and other chemical pills, the side effects associated with CBD’s use are not that extreme.
The use of the substance may just cause some nausea and digestive discomfort in the form of diarrhea. However, it is important to note that there is a difference between CBD and medical marijuana. The latter contains THC and other molecules as well. Note that cannabis overuse can cause a tolerance to the herb and cannabis use disorder too. Though CUD is rare, its risk exists.
Can Cannabis Replace Opioids?
Unfortunately, there are one too many problems with medical cannabis. Doctors are not ready to handle the dosing or delivery of cannabis. Health practitioners need more education on this matter. Furthermore, there still may be risks associated to cannabis that scientists are unaware of.
Experts think that there is a dire need of more research regarding cannabis and its components. Currently, it is sales pitches that have put cannabis forward in a positive limelight. Though there’s quite a good amount of supporting research, it is still not good enough.
Moreover, there’s a lack of CBD in the cannabis used medically which is also a grave concern. This is why, a study published earlier this year said that cannabis shouldn’t yet be considered as a suitable replacement for opioids. In fact, another recent study published in the National Academy of Sciences journal found that cannabis cannot reduce opioid related deaths.