Published on November 21, 2022 by Kristina Willis
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show appreciation for the things that make life great or, in some cases, more bearable. Many people around the world experience discomfort due to disease and medical illness. While modern medicine offers much relief, current drug therapies often have adverse side effects. New options are not only warranted but requisite.
Cannabinoids show exceptional promise when it comes to addressing pharmacological needs. Though adequate clinical studies are lacking, available data suggests that there are plenty of reasons to be thankful for cannabis in 2022.
Here’s why you should add cannabis to your gratitude list this Thanksgiving.
Pain is a common symptomatic response that substantially reduces the quality of life of patients suffering from a broad range of medical conditions. Unfortunately, many prescription drugs utilized for pain relief have adverse side effects. Widely prescribed opioids like Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Percocet are often misused and highly addictive. When the solutions are nearly as problematic as the initial issue, finding alternative answers becomes all the more essential.
“Overall, the results of the meta-analysis indicate that evidence from laboratory experiments supports the hypothesis of cannabinoid-induced analgesia.”— Haroutounian et al. (source)
“Overall, the results of the meta-analysis indicate that evidence from laboratory experiments supports the hypothesis of cannabinoid-induced analgesia.”
To date, pain relief is the most documented reason for cannabinoid use. Medicinal cannabis shows much potential as a pain modifier, but current studies are predominantly low-quality or provide insufficient evidence. Currently, there aren’t any FDA-approved cannabinoid medications for pain, but other countries have given formal approval. For example, Nabiximols (marketed as Sativex) are approved in Canada and throughout Europe. The oromucosal spray, which contains both CBD and THC, is used to alleviate neuropathic pain and spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
► Comprehensive Review from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)► Review of Medical Cannabis in Neuropathic Chronic Pain Management► Study on Efficacy of Cannabis for Patients with Chronic Orthopedic Pain► Practical Considerations for Cannabis for Cancer Pain Management► Systematic Review of Medical Cannabis for Gynecologic Pain Conditions
Many people struggle to get a full night’s rest despite how essential sleep is for everyday functioning. An estimated 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep issues, and only 50% of Australian adults report getting adequate sleep regularly. The current first-line treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi), which is notably effective for approximately 60% of patients.
However, drug therapies for patients with resistant cases can be dangerous or produce unpleasant side effects. For example, patients taking benzodiazepines risk developing tolerance and dependence as well as significant adverse symptoms, particularly during withdrawal. Adverse effects include memory impairment, depression, and paradoxical inhibition.
As such, alternative medicines have become a popular means of self-medicating, and treating poor sleep and sleep disorders are two of the most common reasons for medicinal cannabis use. Though definitive research is still lacking, cannabis for improved sleep is not scientifically unfounded. Literature has historically relied on an overabundance of self-reports with little empirical data, but recent clinical studies using novel formulations have made significant strides in the last few years.
The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), Germany’s regulatory authority, approved Zenivol as a medication for insomnia. Zenivol, created by Zelira Therapeutics, is the world’s first clinically validated pharmaceutical-grade cannabis sleep medication. The drug is poised for approval in numerous markets, including the U.S., where Zelira is currently conducting observational pain trials approved by the institutional review board (IRB).
“Two weeks of nightly sublingual administration of a cannabinoid extract (ZTL-101) is well tolerated and improves insomnia symptoms and sleep quality in individuals with chronic insomnia symptoms.”—Walsh et al. (source)
“Two weeks of nightly sublingual administration of a cannabinoid extract (ZTL-101) is well tolerated and improves insomnia symptoms and sleep quality in individuals with chronic insomnia symptoms.”
Zenivol’s first study observed adverse effects, but all were mild and resolved when patients awoke. On the other hand, benefits included reduced time to fall asleep, increased time sleeping, and feeling more rested and refreshed upon waking.
► Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial of Zenivol (ZTL101)► Review of Medicinal Cannabis in Treating Patients with Sleep Disorders
Though cannabis applications are numerous, it is not the cure-all that some companies would have consumers believe. That said, even when cannabis is not a viable cure, it can sometimes alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. For example, cannabis can help speed up recovery from colds and the flu and improve the quality of life for patients with Crohn’s disease.
► Nausea and vomiting► Aches and pains► Inflammation► Diarrhea
► Cannabinoids: Therapeutic Use in Clinical Practice► Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids in Combination Cancer Therapy► Report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids
Learning more about how each cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system will yield valuable insight into how cannabis can help address certain diseases. With increased interest and support, there is little doubt that upcoming research will reveal additional benefits. For instance, applications for cancer and reducing inflammation are already on the horizon. With any luck, next year will yield a few more reasons to be thankful for cannabis.