When I say cannabis, I’m talking marijuana. Weed. Grass. Reefer. I could go on with the list of monikers this drug has earned since it first hit the American mainstream back in the 1930s before rising to widespread use in the 60s and 70s, but that would be missing the point.
Because I’m not talking about recreational drug use. I’m referring to targeted use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Recent science says that chewing cannabis gum may do wonders for pain relief.
And, taken for the right purposes, cannabis isn’t nearly as illegal as it used to be. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 29 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal use.
This move towards legalization has been largely based on research that showed inhaling marijuana can relieve chronic nerve pain. But the question is how well, and if we can do better.
According to WebMD, participants’ pain symptoms dropped slightly when they inhaled marijuana vapor three times a day. But the actual pain relief from the vapor was only slightly better than for those who took a placebo. Top it off with the side effects of headache, numbness, dry eyes and a cough, and we could call it a wash.
Medical marijuana is widely available today in other forms, including capsules and oils, to treat a variety of ailments. Doctors prescribe cannabis for cancer patients to alleviate nausea, and to treat those with arthritis, migraines, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, to list just a few.
Medical professionals and researchers say the science behind how cannabis works is the bonding of inhaled cannabinoids to our bodies’ naturally produced endocannabinoids. The result is a biochemical reaction that helps block pain receptors, and creates that sense of being “high”.
But in capsule form, cannabis is metabolized by about 90% in the liver before it can deliver benefits to other areas of the body. With the new delivery form system of a chewing gum, scientists believe the pain-relieving properties could be delivered more effectively, at lower doses and without producing any mind-altering effects.
Cannabis gum is already for sale in some markets. Still, it remains unclear as to how effective the treatment currently is.
One things for sure – it could hold promise to reduce prescriptions for more addictive pain relievers – including oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, and that comes with a significant risk of chemical dependence, if not addiction. Could this “gateway drug” actually serve as a gateway to fewer incidences of opioid addiction in our country? Only time (and continued testing) will tell.
So, would you give Cannabis gum a try to relieve pain?