Any number of marijuana users, whether medicinal or recreational, will tell you that "Mary J" is great for relaxation. In fact, you would probably receive a list of problems the drug has helped relieve or alleviate all together.
As an arthritis patient looking for alternatives to synthesized medicines, unable to use traditional medications or physically unreceptive to traditional medication, you may be skeptical. You may be disbelieving. You may, in fact, consider marijuana users to be a little lacking in the intelligence quotient, merely trying to make their drug use acceptable.
However, as the title of this article indicates, there is scientifically proven evidence that medicinal marijuana can, indeed, provide relief from arthritic pain.
What is Medicinal Marijuana?
First, it must be noted that there are two major differences between medicinal marijuana and commercial or "street" marijuana.
1. Commercial marijuana can come from any number of cannabis strains. Different strains have varying pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, etc. potencies. The potency of commercial marijuana can't be guaranteed. Medicinal marijuana strains, on the other hand, are chosen for specifically for their potency and effects.
2. Some commercial marijuana has been fertilized with unsafe fertilizers. These fertilizers may contain metal derivatives and other toxic substances or by-products. Medicinal marijuana is fertilized carefully, with the health of the patient in mind, with nontoxic fertilizers.
It is not recommended that one buy commercial marijuana (or marihuana) to replace a prescription for medicinal marijuana.
Proven Benefits of Marijuana for Arthritis Patients
Although the legal aspects in many countries, funding and other issues inhibit the number of studies on the therapeutic aspects of marijuana, there is still a surprising amounts of information available. The facts so far are clear:
- Marijuana has shown to be an anti-inflammatory
- The potential for cannabis use to help inflammation and muscle spasms have been proven for several illnesses
- Marijuana has been used as a pain treatment for hundreds of years, if not thousands (some records date back to B.C.)
- Studies suggest that marijuana may not only help inflammation, but may lower the actual growth of the disease itself
Dr. Tom Mikuriya, a member of Mensa and several well-known organizations studying medicinal marijuana, wrote in 2002:
"Clinical interviews of over 6500 members at cannabis buyers clubs and patients in my office practice lead to this generalization: Many illnesses or conditions present with both inflammation and muscle spasm. Cannabis is both an antispasmodic and anti inflammatory."
Well known and respected as an authority on the therapeutic uses of marijuana, Dr Mikuriya also states "Chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis and lumbosacral disease responds well to cannabis compared with other analgesics."
In 2005, Rheumatology Advance Access online published a study by Dr. Blake et al of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. Noted as "the first controlled trial of a CBM [cannabis based medicine] in the symptomatic treatment of RA in humans", the study was based on several facts:
- Marijuana has historically been used as a pain treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, although its therapeutic potential has never been evaluated in a clinical study.
- THC and CBD, the two main components of marijuana, have been recognized as "key therapeutic constituents that act synergistically together and with other plant constituents."
- THC has shown pain relieving abilities for both nociceptive and neropathic pain.
- CBD has shown the ability to block the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, while both THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory effects.
"In comparison with placebo, the CBM produced statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, quality of sleep, DAS28 and the SF-MPQ pain at present component. There was no effect on morning stiffness but baseline scores were low. The large majority of adverse effects were mild or moderate, and there were no adverse effect-related withdrawals or serious adverse effects in the active treatment group."
Due to the surprising responses, the researchers ended the study with a call for more studies. "We believe this to be the first controlled study of a CBM in rheumatoid arthritis, and the results are encouraging. The beneficial effects occurred in the context of a dosing regime restricted to evening dosing in order to minimize any possible intoxication-type reactions. However, 24-h dosing with this CBM (Sativex) using a self-titration regime in the context of multiple sclerosis resulted in only minimal intoxication scores . Larger, more prolonged studies of CBM in rheumatoid arthritis are indicated."
In 2006, the Center of Drug Discovery in Boston, Massachusetts published a study entitled The Cannabinergic System as a Target for Anti-inflammatory Therapies. With habitual cannabis use proven to affect the immune system, endocannabinoid research has helped to understand the effects through cell-based or in vivo animal testing.
According to the study, these tests "suggest that regulation of the endocannabinoid circuitry can impact almost every major function associated with the immune system.... the results suggest therapeutic opportunities for a variety of inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, atherosclerosis, allergic asthma, and autoimmune diabetes through modulation of the endocannabinoid system."
Although many a naysayer mentions the potentials for overdose, it must be noted that there has never been one documented case of someone overdosing on marijuana, whether through recreational or medicinal use. As well, many are concerned about cancer-causing agents through inhaling the smoke, but a comprehensive study in 2006 could show no proof of marijuana causing lung cancer.
Finally, remember that medical marijuana should not be smoked. Using it in baking or with a vaporizer will offer the therapeutic benefits needed to alleviate arthritis symptoms.