A clinical trial that was conducted by researchers from the University of California-Irvine in collaboration with UC San Francisco has found that marijuana has the potential to be used as a treatment for chronic pain in patients suffering from sickle cell disease. The trials discoveries were reported in JAMA Network Open.
Prof. Kalpna Gupta, who is a member of the Irvine institution’s Center for the Study of Cannabis as well as being an Irvine researcher, states that the trial led them to the discovery that vaporized marijuana is generally safe, suggesting that patients suffering from sickle cell anemia may alleviate their pain using marijuana, which may also be used to address the opioid crisis.
Gupta, who has specialized in medicine, adds that larger studies that have more participants may present researchers with a better view of how marijuana can help individuals suffering from chronic pain.
Opioids are the principal drugs prescribed to manage acute and chronic pain caused by sickle cell disease. However, the increase in deaths linked to opioids has prompted clinicians to prescribe them less, which leaves patients with chronic pain with fewer options.
The placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial conducted by the pair of institutions was the first to make use of gold-standard techniques to evaluate the potential of marijuana in pain relief for people suffering from sickle cell disease. The marijuana utilized in the trial contained equal parts of CBD and THC and was acquired from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is under the NIH.
Gupta stated that facing so much pain caused many individuals to turn to marijuana, adding that this was the main reason why people sought the herb from dispensaries. She explained that while researchers weren’t sure whether all forms of marijuana products would have the same effect on chronic pain, they were certain that vaporized marijuana was safer in comparison with other forms, as small amounts reach the body’s circulation.
For the trial, 23 patients who each suffer from pain related to sickle-cell disease were recruited. During the two 5-day inpatient sessions, which were separated by a 4-week period, each patient inhaled a vaporized placebo or vaporized marijuana.
The researchers then evaluated the pain level of each participant throughout the treatment period, which led to the discovery that marijuana’s efficaciousness grew over time. The participants also revealed that their pain didn’t affect their moods or activities such as sleeping and walking.
In addition to this, the researchers note that the level of pain was lower in patients who had inhaled vaporized marijuana in comparison with those who had received the placebo.
With companies such as RYAH Group Inc. (CSE: RYAH) making smart inhalers that allow patients to be sure about the amount of medical marijuana they are inhaling for pain, it may just be a matter of time before cannabis medicine is as widely accepted as pharmaceuticals.
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