German Study: Cannabis-Based Medications Relieve Pain



Many Cannabis Patients Can Drive Motor Vehicles Safely While Medicated, According To Study

Cannabis-based medications have been demonstrated to relieve pain, and can be useful for patients whose symptoms aren’t adequately alleviated by conventional treatment, according to a paper in a peer-reviewed German medical journal.

The symptoms shown to have been alleviated by marijuana-based medicines include muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, loss of appetite in HIV/AIDS patients, and neuropathic pain, according to the paper, published in Issue 29-30 of Deutsches Arzteblatt International, the German Medical Association’s official international peer-reviewed science journal, reports Science Daily.

“Medications based on cannabis have been used for therapeutic purposes in many cultures for centuries,” the paper notes. “In Europe, they were used at the end of the 19th century to treat pain, spasms, asthma, sleep disorders, depression, and loss of appetite.”

“In the first half of the 20th century cannabinoid medications fell into almost complete disuse, partly because scientists were unable to establish the chemical structure of the ingredients of the cannabis plant,” the paper notes. (Don’t forget that the legal strictures on marijuana research in the United States were also a major factor.)

The molecular structure of delta-9 THC

That all changed in 1964 with the discovery of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, followed by the discovery of the body’s own cannabinoid system with specific receptors. This sparked the beginning of intensive research into the function of the endocannabinoid system and the the clinical usefulness of marijuana-based medications.
The medicinal effects of various cannabis-based medicines is due primarily top the activation of the body’s own cannabinoid receptors. Consumption of therapeutic amounts of cannabis medications by adults does not lead to irreversible cognitive impairment, according to the paper, but caution should be exercised when administering to children and adolescents, particularly before puberty.
Drug warriors will often try to tell you that there “aren’t any good studies” of marijuana’s medical effects, but more than 100 controlled scientific trials of the effects of cannabinoids have been carried out since 1975. The positive results of these trials have led to official licensing of cannabis-based medicines in many nations.

Deutsches Arzteblatt

Germany approved a cannabis extract last year for treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients. The Federal Joint Committee — the highest decision-making body for the association of physicians, dentists, hospitals and health insurance in Germany — in June announced that the cannabis extract showed a “slight additional benefit” for MS and granted a temporary license until 2015, Science Daily reports.
Interestingly, given the current controversy in Washington state of the marijuana DUI provisions of limited “legalization” initiative I-502 — which advocates believe would unfairly impact unimpaired patients — the paper notes that many patients’ ability to drive is unimpaired.
“Patients who take cannabinoids at a constant dosage over an extensive period of time often develop tolerance to the impairment of psychomotor performance, so that they can drive vehicles safely,” the paper notes.
In fact, according to the paper, many patients can drive better while medicated.
“Because of the alleviation of symptoms, treatment with cannabinoid medications may actually distinctly improve the patient’s ability to drive motor vehicles (compared with no treatment),” the study notes.