Cannabinoids for the Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Dr. Michael Verbora, MBA, MD, CCFP, Cannabinoid Physician, discusses how Cannabinoids can be used safely in conjunction with other therapies to alleviate the burden of chronic pain.

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Dr. Michael Verbora, MBA, MD, CCFP, Cannabinoid Physician, discusses how Cannabinoids can be used safely in conjunction with other therapies to alleviate the burden of chronic pain.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Michael Verbora, MBA, MD, CCFP, Cannabinoid Physician

Duration: 4 minutes, 10 seconds

Medical cannabis is a viable option for patients looking to manage their chronic pain. We now have a regulated system in Canada which allows access to products that are specifically tested and regulated.

The methods of consumption for medical cannabis are typically two forms: the first is dried flowered cannabis which can be vapourized for fast relief of pain. The alternative method of consumption is through cannabis oils, and through oils you can get a more longer-acting relief of pain.

There are a number of myths when it comes to the consumption of cannabis. One of the most common myths is that you have to smoke cannabis to get relief. The reality is there are safe methods of inhaling cannabis that do not cause harms like smoking.

Another myth is that you have to be impaired or high when using cannabis. The reality once again is that we never recommend patients get to that level. We can use safe products such as CBD or very low levels of THC to mitigate symptoms and help patients without being impaired.

Physicians nowadays are very open-minded to the use of cannabis as a safer alternative for chronic pain management, especially in relation to opiates. New guidelines are starting to recommend cannabis earlier in the treatment modalities for patients dealing with chronic pain.

A recent survey of physicians showed an 85 percent approval for cannabis as a medical option. There are a number of studies that show cannabis can be an effective option for pain management. We do know overall that cannabis can be safer than alternatives such as opiates.

There are a number of ongoing studies and there are still many questions that we have to answer when it comes to specific pain disorders and specific conditions when using cannabis. The cannabis plant has a number of different ingredients in it that contribute to a number of medicinal benefits such as anti-inflammatory effect, muscle relaxing properties and the suppression of what we call neurotransmitters or calming the nervous system down, and through those medicinal properties, one can experience an alleviation of their pain if it’s chronic in nature, fibromyalgia in nature or neuropathic in nature.

Cannabis works on the sympathetic nervous system, and that nervous system can be quite uptight at times, causing a lot of muscle tension, migraine headaches, as well as just generalized stress. What cannabis can do is alleviate the tension or that strong tone in the nervous system, hence leading to medicinal benefits such as muscle relaxation and calm.

Cannabis is a safe alternative compared to opiates for chronic pain management. What is nice about cannabis is that it does not work on the brain stem, and that is a very vital important part of our brain that controls our breathing rates.

Opiates, however do work on the brain stem and hence using too much can lead to an overdose and death. Because cannabis does not work in this area of the brain, you cannot have a death from the consumption of cannabis. Cannabis does alter our brain and relax a number of the chemicals being secreted, but it will not lead to such a toxic effect.

Chronic pain can be a very difficult condition to manage, and the use of cannabis can help, but typically it is used in conjunction with alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, sleep hygiene or ongoing physical therapy. The combination of cannabinoids with these therapies can lead to a better success rate in alleviating pain.

If you’re dealing with chronic pain and are interested in learning more about how cannabis might be an option for you, please seek out help through your doctor, health care practitioner or your pharmacist, and may also be an option to reduce opiates.

Presenter: Dr. Michael Verbora, Family Doctor, Toronto, ON

Local Practitioners: Family Doctor

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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