Lizzy fought off several chronic conditions with cannabis.
I have been given everything on the spectrum – from Tylenol to Morphine. On my worst day, Morphine brought it from a 10 to an 8 on the pain scale. That’s the life of a person in chronic pain.
For anxiety, depression and PTSD, I saw numerous mental health professionals and each one put me on something different. In 2012, I was taken off everything because each one caused suicidal ideation and even self harm.
I eventually tried cannabis after family members and friends convinced me that It could help. It has changed everything! It treats my depression, anxiety, PTSD, and pain! One medicine for 4 things…
Lizzy’s Choice Strains
If I have a choice, I pick Sour Diesel or Durban Poison, but often am not sure what I am getting as it’s from illegal sources.
I medicate the pain away once or twice a day, depending on how bad the day is.
Cannabis has allowed me to be the mother I want to be – actively involved in my child’s life. It has also given me back my life as a person who can function in society.
From RxLeaf: Chronic Pain and Cannabis
Lizzy shared her battle with not just one, but four challenging diagnoses: anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In each case, she developed severe adverse reactions to the medications prescribed by healthcare professions. As she explained, each new drug triggered recurrent suicidal ideation. With so many terrifying side effects, she eventually ceased all conventional treatment.
Choosing to try cannabis was a turning point for Lizzy, as she said, “One medicine for 4 things…” Let’s look deeper into how cannabis is particularly useful for treatment-resistant pain like Lizzy’s.
When it comes to pain, there are many different types, including inflammatory, neuropathic, cancer-related, and nociceptive. Neuropathic pain is one of the most studied within the realm of medicinal cannabis. It describes nerve-related pain, typically stemming from one of many different chronic conditions like diabetes, alcoholism, and multiple sclerosis.
Research on Cannabis and Neuropathic Pain
It’s still early days for all cannabis research, but some of the most studied conditions relate to the plant’s potential for chronic neuropathic pain. The evidence strongly suggests that for many patients, cannabis works above the alternatives. The research below also indicates that the plant is often the preferred option, especially when compared to opioids.
For example, in a review from the university of Bonn, looking at all relevant research into cannabis-derived and synthetic cannabis drugs for neuropathic pain, the authors conclude the following. “Cannabis‐based medicines may increase the number of people achieving 50% or greater pain relief compared with placebo” and “Cannabis‐based medicines probably increase the number of people achieving pain relief of 30% or greater compared with placebo.”
Another small scale study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain followed 176 patients over six months as they used cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain. The researchers chose patients for their diagnosis of treatment-resistant pain. Patient questionnaires sought to find changes in pain symptom score (using the Treatment Outcomes in Pain Survey—Short Form); physical, social, and emotional disability scales; pain severity, and pain interference with daily life.
In the end, cannabis reduced pain symptom score, pain interference, and pain severity for these patients. It also had a positive impact on social and emotional disability scores for the patients. Most interestingly, it reduced opioid dependence on average by 44 percent.
This final discovery is perhaps not surprising if you are familiar with the growing body of information on the subject. This research shows how access to medical cannabis reduces a population’s reliance on opioids. It seems as if people naturally gravitate towards cannabis for pain, even if they have opioids available.
Cannabis and Chronic Pain
In perhaps the biggest vote of confidence to date, even the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine made the profound conclusion in 2017 that “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.”
Why is this declaration profound? Because this organization is actually a collaboration between many notable private and nonprofit institutions. Their end goal is to “provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world.” It says quite a bit that they not only explored cannabis at all, but that they declared positive health outcomes.
Cannabis for chronic pain is an evolving area of study, but an increasingly popular choice among pain patients. In fact, patients are turning to cannabis in record numbers, and the research is still trying to play catch up with this popular use. We might not know dosing specifics, cannabinoid combinations, or even the mechanisms of action – but patients are finding relief. Hopefully, this developing interest will encourage more clinical study and a better understanding of the plant for pain.