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Canadian Researchers Advise Against Use Of Medical Marijuana For Rheumatic Pain Relief

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Developing effective pain relief solutions is among the priorities of researchers focused on rheumatoid conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or fibromyalgia. In recent years herbal cannabis has garnered much attention as a pain relief alternative but, according to Canadian researchers, doctors should discourage patients with rheumatoid conditions from resorting to medical marijuana to treat their pain. They point to the lack of medical evidence regarding the effectiveness and safety of this method, highlighting potential dangers associated with it.

The new report appears in the Arthritis Care & Research journal and is the work of a team led by Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles from Quebec´s McGill University Health Centre. As the publication notes, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations in cannabis vary by up to 33%, while the absorption rate can be anything between 2% and 56%. This means that dosage cannot be reliably determined. In addition, most patients using medical marijuana prefer inhalation to ingestion, as a result of which they subject themselves to the harmful effect of smoking: their respiratory system is affected by hydrocarbons, tar and carbon monoxide inhaled.

The researchers also point out that the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating rheumatic pain has not been formally studied, either from a short-term or long-term perspective. While this option has been shown to work for cancer and neuropathic pain, there is no evidence to suggest the same relief can be experienced by rheumatology patients. Moreover, people using medical marijuana run the risk of compromising their cognitive and psychomotor functions. Prolonged cannabis use could result in mental illness, dependence, addiction and memory problems, the report warns.