The anticipated technology of the cannabis inhaler enters human clinical trials.
The evolution of cannabis as medicine over the last few years is nothing short of remarkable. In the early days of medical cannabis, patients smoked joints then it was oil, tinctures, and edibles. Later they adopted high potency doses of Rick Simpson Oil and concentrates like shatter. Today, patients have the cannabis inhaler to look forward to. If the reports are true, in only a few short months a quick puff from a familiar inhaler may be the newest effective pain management technique. It is an incredible advancement for cannabis in medicine.
In the United States, a few companies have attempted to release pressurized inhaler formats to the cannabis market. Although patients may find these products beneficial for pain management, there’s little to no research proving efficacy. And sadly, this may not change anytime soon. The federal government still stands in the way of cannabis research. In Israel, however, the story is much different. Cannabis inhalers are headed to clinical trials in the country, and with luck will hit store shelves by the end of the year.
Smoking and Vaping – Not Always Appropriate
The traditional means of consuming medical cannabis are not always the right choice, therapeutically speaking. Smoking a joint or taking a pull from a pipe naturally puts more stress on the respiratory system. If you are battling a respiratory disease or chronic illness, inhaling your medicine may be more trouble than it’s worth.
On top of the medical concerns around smoking, it is increasingly a social faux-pas. Even smoking cannabis for therapeutic purposes is being replaced by other methods (vaping, topicals, tinctures, etc.). Fewer people see the value in smoking, especially in those using medical cannabis for the first time. Both millennials and seniors, generations with seemingly little in common, are forgoing smoking for options with fewer risks.
Finally, healthcare providers are struggling to condone smoking. They may tolerate cannabis as an acceptable medicine, but not through a method that can damage the lungs. No matter how many patients receive a cannabis prescription, it’s unlikely a hospital, senior’s home, or other public facilities will allow for smoking of it.
These are only a few of the reasons why cannabis inhalers are beginning to garner media attention. The pressured inhaler is a familiar and trusted medical delivery device. Many people already have experience using inhalers for respiratory issues, like asthma. So, if a patient is new to cannabis, it may be much easier to adapt to a familiar device like an inhaler, than learn to roll a joint or pack a pipe.
Cannabis Inhalers Making Medical Breakthroughs in Israel
Cannabis in medicine is a few steps ahead in Israel. Not only does the government fund a significant amount of research, there are already cannabis clinical trials at government-run hospitals. And now, cannabis inhalers head to clinical trial.
The cannabis inhaler clinical trial is a partnership between Panaxia Pharmaceutical Industries and Rafa Pharmaceutical. They announced their intention to explore cannabis in metered dose inhalers for palliative cancer patients. The clinical trial is currently seeking registration in Israel and will work with cancer patients suffering from the symptoms of cancer-related pain.
In a recent press release, the CEO of Panaxia, Dr. Dadi Segal, outlined the intention behind a cannabis inhaler: “We strive to help more patients suffering from acute pain. The inhaler will provide patients that are unable or unwilling to smoke, the right to be treated consistently and precisely.”
The CEO of Rafa, Anat Savion, added that “The future of treatment with medical cannabis is the ability to match treatment to each patient in the best possible way.”
Are Cannabis Inhalers More Effective for Pain Relief?
It is far too early to conclude one way or another about the benefits of cannabis inhalers for pain relief, but there is a clinical precedent. First, the National Academies Press, in the most sweeping review of cannabis research, concluded: “In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.” Second, a small Israeli study established cannabis inhalers as effective means for pain relief.
This older trial, published in 2014, concluded cannabis inhalers performed better than other conventional methods of ingestion. The research team discovered metered dosing devices seemingly provided consistent, controllable doses of cannabinoids even between patients.
Through blood testing of THC levels, the data showed every patient received a consistently similar treatment to their peers. If we were to look at patients who smoked, vaped, or ate cannabis, it almost always delivers a high variable range between one patient and another. So this consistency is extremely valuable. As per the results of the Syqe clinical trial there was “low interindividual variation…. achieving pharmaceutical standards for inhaled drugs.”
The Syqe sponsored study also demonstrated very effective relief of pain through the use of cannabis inhalers. Twenty minutes post inhalation, the participants of the study reported a 45 percent decrease in pain intensity. For most, this relief lasted for 90 minutes before it started to wear off. Patients treated with the inhaler also reported significantly higher for THC satisfaction with the inhaler than of smoked joints.
Double Checking to Prove Without a Doubt
The new clinical trial from Panaxia is building on the original findings from Syqe. Very soon, medical cannabis patients in Israel could have access to a consistent, accurate, and familiar dosing device for cannabis. Cannabis inhalers (if the results of the study meet expectations) offer a safe alternative to patients who want to use cannabis but cannot smoke or vape it. It also provides a more acceptable delivery device for specific settings, potentially starting an entirely new era of cannabis in hospitals and healthcare facilities.