Summary: A new study in the Journal of Cannabis Research reveals that medical marijuana and opioids are equally effective in reducing pain intensity in chronic pain patients. However, cannabis offers additional holistic benefits, including improved sleep, focus, and emotional wellbeing.
Study Shows Cannabis as Effective as Opioids in Pain Management with Added Benefits
Cannabis and opioids have been found to be equally efficacious in mitigating pain intensity in patients with chronic pain. This finding comes from a study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research. The study highlights that, in addition to targeting pain intensity, medical cannabis (MC) also provides a more holistic alteration of the pain experience. This includes factors like relaxation, improved sleep, mood enhancement, and a sense of control over the pain.
The study, conducted by a Finnish team led by Åbo Akademi University psychology professor Jussi Jylkkä, involved 201 chronic pain patients, 40 using medical marijuana and 161 using opioids. The research revealed that both treatments were perceived as equally effective in reducing pain intensity. However, medical cannabis users reported broader positive effects on pain-related factors such as emotion, functionality, and overall wellbeing.
Participants noted that medical cannabis led to deeper relaxation, better sleep, improved mood, and an ability to feel pain without reacting to it. These aspects were more commonly reported by the medical marijuana group compared to the opioid group. The study supports the notion that the psychoactive effects of medical cannabis are relevant to its therapeutic effect on pain, altering consciousness towards a more positive direction or ‘normality.’
Further, the study found no evidence that medical cannabis distorted cognitive processes. Instead, it was perceived to improve memory, focus, and clarity of thought. This aligns with past research indicating additional benefits for medical cannabis in treating chronic pain, such as reduced depression and anxiety compared to opioid users.
The study also highlighted that whole-plant cannabis flower might be more effective than synthetic THC or isolated cannabinoids. This adds to the growing evidence that whole-plant cannabis flower could be an effective analgesic. The research underscores the potential of medical cannabis as a safer alternative to opioids in some settings, with implications for pain management and opioid prescription practices.
Why It Matters: This study is significant as it provides evidence that Cannabis can be as effective as opioids in pain management, with the added advantage of holistic benefits. This could influence future pain management practices and policies, offering a safer alternative to opioids and potentially reducing opioid dependency.
Potential Implications: The findings could lead to a shift in chronic pain treatment strategies, with increased consideration of medical cannabis as a viable option. It may also impact regulatory policies, encouraging more research and possibly leading to broader acceptance and legalization of medical cannabis for pain management.
Source: Marijuana Moment
And we would like to know if this research could lead to a decrease in opioid prescriptions for chronic pain?
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