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For example, NSAIDs can be beneficial, but they’ve also been associated with complications involving the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and renal systems. For their part, opioids have proven their effectiveness in different situations, but have also demonstrated their potential to cause cognitive deficiencies, motor impairment and respiratory depression. Opioids also, unfortunately, represent a substantial addiction and dependency risk among specific groups of individuals.
As time goes on, alternative plant medicine, such as cannabis, numerous cannabinoids and terpenes, are slowly contributing to a change in the way pain management is viewed and/or executed.
Cannabis for pain management and treatment
The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, but some of them are more well-known than others, including CBD and THC. Numerous cannabinoids are medically and therapeutically beneficial in multiple ways, but CBD, THC, cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol’s (CBG) analgesic properties stand out. So far, it has been found that CBC contains both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, while CBG has been shown to have stronger analgesic activity than THC.
Aside from the analgesic properties of different cannabinoids, various terpenes found in the cannabis plant are analgesics as well, especially myrcene. One 2008 study expanded on this, stating that: “Myrcene is analgesic, and such activity, in contrast to cannabinoids, is blocked by naloxone, suggesting an opioid-like mechanism.” Another terpene that contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory attributes is β-caryophyllene.
In addition, cannabinoid analgesics have generally been well-tolerated in clinical trials. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that CBD is non-psychoactive, non-toxic and non-addictive, as well as has a good safety profile.
Although there’s more to learn about cannabinoids and pain management, various surveys of cannabis users have shed light on the substitution of cannabis products for opioids. Specifically, one 2017 survey focused on U.S. and Canadian cannabis users. The following was reported: “Our findings are consistent with prior surveys of American and Canadian marijuana users in which substitution of marijuana for opioids was prevalent due to better symptom management and fewer adverse and withdrawal effects.”