What Science Says about Cannabis Use for Chronic Pain

Many news outlets, blogs and celebrities proclaim cannabis as an effective medicinal and recreational drug with more benefits than costs. While the focus is often on the recreational uses, those with chronic pain are often referenced as the ideal audience for cannabis due to its relieving properties. The actual science behind these recommendations may be a little more complicated than is often discussed in popular culture.

Still being researched

Cannabis and CBD smoked from these glass pipes are still being researched today with new data becoming available constantly on the effects of long-term cannabis use on the brain and body. The data is mostly conflicted with no clear and substantial evidence pointing toward cannabis having a consistent and beneficial impact on those with chronic pain. Different bodies provoke varying responses from cannabis use, making it hard to prescribe accurate doses and suitable forms.

Many scientists agree that cannabis cannot be formally medically recommended because of the varying effects it has, and most guidelines strongly condemn smoking or vaping cannabis to treat medical conditions. While there is limited research showing a positive relation between treating issues like anxiety, chronic pain and even more substantial diseases like cancer, there is also research linking worsening mental health conditions and cognition to its use.

Long list of risks and side effects

With no substantial proven research on the effects of cannabis on the body or for those with chronic pain, it’s nearly impossible to write prescriptions or recommendations. There are many short-term and long-term effects and risks that cannabis users may experience while using this drug for recreational or medical use. Users may initially feel symptoms of a “high” which can include the following:

  • altered visual and mental states
  • impaired reflexes and movement
  • impaired cognition and memory

With large dosages, users may also experience hallucinations and delusions and even psychosis. Like many other substances, younger individuals can suffer the most developmental damage to the brain and emotional functions. Research is still unclear as to how long these effects can last or if they’re permanent.

Those who smoke cannabis often develop long-term breathing and coughing problems, a constant increased heart rate and persistent nausea. Cannabis use has also been linked to developmental issues with fetuses in the womb and even after birth if the mother smokes or consumes cannabis during the period of breastfeeding.

Legality and commercial advertisement

CBD and cannabis commercials are often more attractive and misleading than the facts and data suggest. There is no clear and universal research that confirms cannabis should be prescribed to those looking to manage their chronic pain or other diseases. Medical marijuana is legal in 37 states with only 18 allowing it for adults to purchase purely for recreational reasons.

The raging discussion concerning legality and the boom of CBD businesses across the nation, CBD being widely more legal than marijuana, has sparked controversy and a higher need for cohesive research and data. An oral CBD treatment has only formally been approved by the FDA for those with severe epilepsy conditions and not solely for any pain treatment or management. As the legality discussion continues across the United States, more research will be conducted and provide more conclusive answers and recommendations for those without helpful and effective chronic pain management.

Overall, there is no conclusive evidence that proves or suggests cannabis is the best option for those suffering with chronic pain. The data shows a range of side effects and risks as well as the potential for long-term impaired cognitive development. More research is being completed every day to give cannabis users more accurate information.

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