Pill vs. Plant: Cannabis Instead of Opioids to Treat Chronic Pain
For more than 60,000 years, plants have provided food, shelter, clothing and medicine. But although our earliest ancestors relied on medicinal herbs and plants they foraged, advances in medical science and technology since the 19th century have redefined how modern humans have fought disease and managed illnesses.
Yet as the reliance on modern medicine increases, so too have risky side effects, especially when it comes to chronic pain management, which more than 20% of Americans suffer from, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC as it’s better know, is the active cannabinoid molecule in marijuana that is the main ingredient in relieving many symptoms, including pain. THC attaches itself to the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors found in the nervous system to help it regulate pain and other symptoms.
In fact, two synthetic THC medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting have been actively prescribed for nearly 40 years. And clinical trials are currently underway in the U.S. for cancer pain medication nabiximols, which is already actively prescribed in more than 20 countries worldwide.
Even the NFL is exploring the possibility of cannabis for chronic pain. In Feb. 2022, the NFL awarded the University of California San Diego $500,000 to study whether cannabis can be effectively used to help athletes manage pain from injuries and assist in their recovery, Cannabis Instead of Opioids.