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These are the Pharmaceuticals That May One Day Be Replaced With Cannabis

Jessica McKeil
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Here are the top 3 medications we may soon replace with cannabis.

Modern-day medications have done much for human health, but they are not without controversy. It’s true we are living longer than ever before thanks, in part, to the achievements of modern medicine.  Yet, there are serious detrimental side effects to most pharmaceuticals that keep patients looking for alternatives. These are the drugs that we may one day be replace with cannabis.

Without government approval, and human clinical trials, nobody can make concrete, science-backed statements about cannabis for pain, cancer, or any other health issue. It’s frustrating, because we know the anecdotal reports pan out. Based on the current body of research, however, completed on cell lines and within rats (with whom we share over 90% similarity on the CB1 receptors), we can suggest a few future uses for cannabis medicine.

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Painkillers (Oxycontin, Tramadol)

In what is by now an often cited study from Colorado, Oregon and Washington state, opioid overdoses decrease with legalization. Until very recently, Oxycontin was a popular and commonly prescribed solution to those patients suffering from relentless pain. The risk of addiction and abuse with opioid-based painkillers, like Oxycontin, are very high. Too often, patients are cut off from their legitimate prescription and end up in the black market, with a lethal substance abuse problem.

The theory behind this study is that, instead of turning to opioids for pain relief, patients replace with cannabis. Thanks to the drastically different risk profile of cannabis compared to opiates, the opioid deaths fell by nearly 25 percent in states with legal access.

In a more recent study, covering the years between 2010 and 2015, researchers discovered, “In states with medical cannabis dispensaries, the researchers observed a 14.4 percent reduction in use of prescription opioids and nearly a 7 percent reduction in opiate prescriptions filled in states with home-cultivation-only medical cannabis laws.”

Clearly, there is a role for cannabis as a treatment for tough pain.

ADHD Meds (Ritalin, Adderall)

There are conflicting reports about cannabis use for the treatment of ADHD. Some studies have identified a higher risk of cannabis dependency for people who have an attention disorder, while other studies and personal anecdotes indicate that people with ADHD tend to use cannabis to treat their symptoms (which is the real reason why a high majority of ADHD patients regularly consume cannabis).

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There is definitely a case to be made that cannabis is a suitable alternative to Adderall. The latter works by blocking reuptake of dopamine. Dopamine is a feel good, calming, chemical that improves attention span in the brain.Cannabis works by increasing levels of dopamine. This means different mechanisms make the same result.

qualitative review of 55 randomly selected, and relevant, online discussions found overwhelming support that cannabis use helped reduce ADHD symptoms. This is the first review of its kind. It helps to shed light on how useful the plant could be for ADHD treatment. 

Sleep Meds (Ambien)

One of the most popular uses for medical cannabis is to achieve a full night’s sleep, especially for folks managing sleep disturbances related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and pain. Despite the massive popularity of cannabis as a nightcap, the science is still in very early stages. Over the short term, cannabis supports sleep, but there is evidence it disrupts REM, which may be a health concern over the long term. For PTSD patients, however, the lack of dreaming is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Synthetic cannabinoids, basically laboratory created drugs designed to mimic THC, have shown positive results for improving sleep. These results explored short-term use and provided indication that CBD, one of the many non-psychoactive cannabinoids, may improve the REM cycle of sleep. It is also non-sedative. Imagine, then, how well the real plant would test!

Considering the issues associated with long-term Ambien use, including dependence and influence over mood, cannabis has good sleep benefit. More research will give scientists a better understanding of which cannabinoids provide a healthy night sleep. It will also help with dosing information.

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Should You Replace your Medication with Cannabis?

As a final note, always speak with your doctor before starting a new medication, even if it’s an all natural one.

Your doctor will have the knowledge required to evaluate your personal history. They’ll look at your medical condition, and current medications before you introduce a new one. In some cases, cannabis may not be appropriate.

Cutting out your current medications cold turkey can be dangerous. This is especially true in the case of mood-stabilizers and opioids; going cold turkey can lead to dangerous withdrawals. One last thing if you want to ditch pharmaceuticals for cannabis; Don’t forget to work with your physician to develop a safe exit plan.

Jessica McKeil
Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a freelance writer focused on the medical marijuana industry, from production methods to medicinal applications. She is lucky enough to live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada where the cannabis industry is exploding. When not writing, she spends much of her time exploring in the coastal forests.

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