All posts tagged: Muscle Pain

Pre-clinical Evidence for Analgesic Effects of Cannabis Doesn’t Match Human Trial Results

Current evidence of cannabinoid-based analgesia obtained in preclinical and human experimental settings

In Summary:

Pre-clinical animal models of pain provide a wealth of data supporting the pain-relief capabilities of cannabis; however, reproducing this data in human clinical trials has proved difficult. Data from the animal pre-clinical trials point to cannabinoids reducing stress responses and pain-evoked stress, desensitizing pain receptors, and increased pain sensitivity in animals that lack cannabinoid receptors. However, human trials present conflicting results: several studies have shown dose-dependent relationships, and in the current review this was experienced by many participants, wherein lower and medium doses provided pain relief, but higher doses triggered increased sensitivity to pain. Controlled studies may show a lack of impressive pain relief effects, personal reports of pain relief associated with cannabis use are nearly universal in retrospective reports. This suggests that there may be an important effect on well-being or mood, rather merely sensory pain. Furthermore, the relieving effects of cannabis appear to impact men and women differently.

Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:

Additionally, much of pain relief is subjective, in both sensation, description, and inside the study environment. The description of pain varies from person to person, and researchers may be asking the wrong questions to the right people or the right questions to the wrong people. In fact, a growing perspective is that this mismatch may be more common and more pronounced than previously recognized. The makeup of pain is also quite complicated. For instance, a limb might hurt, but if there is swelling or tenderness nearby, those may amplify the discomfort. How can we take the full picture into account in the form of helpful data points? What of the emotional or psychological impacts of pain? Is it even possible that such things can be fully understood, let alone measured reliably? Assuming that emotional phenomenon or stress/suffering can be conveyed to research scientists, how can we ever hope to compare one person’s experience to another’s? For example, one would imagine that frustration associated with the pain experienced by a venerable world war veteran, who has previously endured tremendous and complex pains and associated psychological trauma may be quite different from someone who has never experienced a particular pain before.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDPre-clinical Evidence for Analgesic Effects of Cannabis Doesn’t Match Human Trial Results
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Many Chronic Pain-Related Cannabis Studies Lack “High-Quality” Evidence

Cannabis-based medicines for chronic neuropathic pain in adults (Review)

In Summary:

In a recent Cochrane meta-analysis of studies investigating the use of medical cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain management, the authors determined that no results were what they could consider “high quality.” All data which related to degrees of pain relief, adverse events, and “Patient Global Impression of Change” were largely of very low or low quality, with some outcomes being of moderate quality. The meta-analysis concluded that no existing evidence backs up the use of cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain; however, the quality of evidence examined highlights the need for more controlled studies.  

Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:

Depending on the system of organization one prefers, pain can be divided up into different subtypes. For one system, it’s three subtypes: neuropathic, nociceptive, and “other.” For another system, pain can be organized by timing (sharp, acute, chronic, breakthrough), location (bone, soft tissue, nerve, referred, phantom), or by the relative system (emotional, cancer, body.) This review discusses the subtype category of “neuropathic pain” as a means of grouping pain to study. The measures used to assess the pain are as subjective as the categories themselves. Clearly, compounding the two subjective divisions is unlikely to produce “high quality” data, but it is a misleading interpretation to take away that there is no good quality information to glean from the observations this review organizes, and also a misinterpretation to jump to an idea that cannabis is not helpful. Rather, given the statistical tools we currently use, and the subjective systems of understanding pain are not well-matched to translating the effects of cannabis on pain into this type of data.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDMany Chronic Pain-Related Cannabis Studies Lack “High-Quality” Evidence
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Could Inhaled Cannabis Be More Effective to Relieve Pain than Oral Cannabinoids?

Cannabis for Chronic Pain: Challenges and Considerations

In Summary:

Comparisons between the use of inhaled cannabis plant versus pharmaceutical-grade oral cannabinoids demonstrate an advantage of inhalation over oral delivery. Conditions for which inhalation has provided superior over oral consumption include:

HIV, diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, complex regional pain syndrome, spinal cord injury, traumatic neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and cervical disk disease.

An important note: patients consuming cannabinoids orally are more likely to withdraw from studies due to negative side effects and lack of efficacy. Also, edible cannabis may compete, amplify, or have effects delayed, when interacting with other ingested foods and drinks, A major advantage of inhalation is the opportunity for patients to titrate, or easily test varying dosages at home, with reasonably rapid feedback. On the other hand, dosage adjustments for oral food-borne cannabinoids are much more complex, and cannabis in the form of oral pharmaceutical-products may require a doctor visit and a new prescription.

Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:

In the clinic, there seems to be a great divide in the population, a group of patients who simply adore the edibles (often in low-dose candies, low-dose chocolate, or titrated tinctures), and a group who use inhalation, almost exclusively. There are also some who are discovering topicals (salves, patches, lotions). There is a growing number of patients who use each of these methods with intention, related to their timing of onset and their duration of action, but this requires education, practice, and a degree of sophistication in use that is relatively new to the industry.

As with most consumption, medicinal or not, it seems common for individuals to find a method that they enjoy and stick to it. Interestingly, in recent years, the US cannabis industry has evolved in a wild growth phase. As it has embraced a dynamic landscape, with increasing competition from all sides, including new stores and product offerings popping up all the time, there seems to be a growing openness, in consumers, to trying new products and exploring new offerings. Coincidentally, this openness to change and the unfamiliar happens to mirror one of the core neurobiological functions of cannabis in the brain, as seen across the neuropsychiatric and neuroimaging cannabis literature.

How exciting to imagine a future medicine that may help consumers to be more open to change?

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Benjamin Caplan, MDCould Inhaled Cannabis Be More Effective to Relieve Pain than Oral Cannabinoids?
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Informing Doctors and Patients on Cannabis Use for Pain

Paper Title: Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review

Although results from many bench-scientific and preclinical animal trials support the use of medical cannabis for pain management, there is not yet an equal body of evidence in human clinical trials. However, this is, in part, due to the fact that, despite millennia of accounts supporting the use of cannabis to treat a large number of medical concerns, in the shorter history of cannabis research, the number of controlled, double-blind, placebo studies are limited, and to some points of view, may not even be possible. Additionally, in an era where increasingly more patients request cannabis therapy from their clinicians, health professionals are catastrophically undereducated on the topic. Furthermore, given the status of the modern opioid crisis, there is a growing need for alternative pain management strategies: states with medical marijuana laws experience significantly fewer opioid-related deaths than states lacking them. Additional research could reduce these deaths further and provide viable alternatives for patients seeking pain management when other therapies have failed. 

Below are interesting clippings from this article, points that are either described eloquently or bring a welcome addition to the ongoing discussion:

Benjamin Caplan, MDInforming Doctors and Patients on Cannabis Use for Pain
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Flavonoids as Pain Relief

Forget CBD; flavonoids found in cannabis have been found to be 30 times more effective painkillers than aspirin, targeting inflammation at the source and making them great alternatives for pain killers. If produced on a larger scale, they could help get away from the opioid crisis.

http://bit.ly/2TbAxoG

Here, a folder w/ hundreds more specific reviews of the medical benefits of flavonoids: http://bit.ly/2XugfvI

Benjamin Caplan, MDFlavonoids as Pain Relief
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Medical Marijuana Offers Benefits Comparable to Prescription Medication, Without the Side Effects

Title: Preferences for Medical Marijuana over Prescription Medications Among Persons Living with Chronic Conditions: Alternative, Complementary, and Tapering Uses

In a survey of 30 patients using medical cannabis for a range of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, hepatitis C, PTSD, among others, patients reported an array of benefits they have reaped from cannabis use. Patients successfully used cannabis in several ways: as an alternative to prescription medication, complementarily with prescription medicine, and to gradually replace use of prescription medication.

Benefits described by participants included the effects of cannabis lasting longer than that of opioids, lower risk of addiction, fewer side-effects. Patients also saw their sleep, anxiety, appetite, and adverse reactions improve with the use of medical cannabis. Larger, more controlled studies may suggest cannabis more affirmatively as an alternative or complementary therapy with prescription medications.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDMedical Marijuana Offers Benefits Comparable to Prescription Medication, Without the Side Effects
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Student-Athletes are at an Increased Risk for Binge Drinking and Substance Use

Title: Psychological correlates and binge drinking behaviours among Canadian youth- a cross-sectional analysis of the mental health pilot data from the COMPASS study

A recent study has examined data from the COMPASS program and found that student-athletes in Canada were more likely to engage in binge-drinking and illicit substance use. Researchers focussed on the measure of flourishing, defined as an overall healthy mental state and emotional connectedness, and how flourishing related to concerning drinking and substance use behavior. Student-athletes were found to be the most at risk for binge-drinking, defined as consuming 5 or more drinks in a single session, and those more likely to binge-drink were also more likely to co-use illicit substances. This research provides evidence for the formation of targeted prevention programs.

Cannabis use is banned among athletes by most sports organizations. Cannabis appeals to athletes considering the many different consumption methods, allowing discreet consumption and personalization with variable potential opportunities for relief. Cannabinoids are generally naturally occurring substances unless clearly manufactured, and have been shown to be beneficial for post-workout recovery, muscle soreness, anxiety, sleep, and relaxation. All of those symptoms, including the emotionally driven ones, are common among student-athletes who often feel an immense amount of pressure to perform in competition. As in most other areas of modern culture, Cannabidiol (CBD) finds itself in a grey area for most sports organizations’ substance regulations given that it is not intoxicating and readily available with a notable safety profile. Even if cannabis is not federally legal, CBD is so widely available that many athletes are embracing it, in lieu of more dangerous, or potentially addictive, medications.

Tweet: A recent study has examined data from the #COMPASS program and found that #studentathletes in Canada were more likely to engage in #binge-drinking and illicit substance use. Read this and other linked studies:

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Benjamin Caplan, MDStudent-Athletes are at an Increased Risk for Binge Drinking and Substance Use
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Genes in the Endocannabinoid and Opioid Systems may Provide Biomarkers of Obesity

Title: Preclinical and Clinical Evidence for a Distinct Regulation of Mu Opioid and Type 1 Cannabinoid Receptor Genes Expression in Obesity

Researchers have recently found that alterations of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor gene (CNR1) and mu opioid receptor gene (OPRM1)  contribute to the development of obesity. This phenomenon was shown in rat models who were given a high-fat diet and humans currently dealing with obesity. Due to the possibility of the up-regulation of CNR1 and OPRM1 providing a mechanism for developing the obesity phenotype, those two genes could serve as biomarkers for obesity. Fortunately, the up-regulation of CNR1 and OPRM1 is reversible and may also provide a target for combatting obesity and encouraging weight loss in obese individuals. 

Highlighted here are the interactions of the endocannabinoid and opioid systems. Contradictory evidence concerning the interaction of the two systems has come out in recent years making it difficult to come to any conclusions. The endocannabinoid system has been thought to provide a safe and effective method for combatting the opioid crisis. Opioids are highly addictive and dangerous, but they are an efficient way to minimize pain which has kept them in mainstream medicine. Opioids have led to countless overdoses in recent decades causing researchers to search for a more ethical option for pain relief. Cannabis has a much better safety profile, poses no risk of overdose, and offers a welcome change of pace to traditional choices. Conclusive research is still needed to confirm, and reconfirm the details.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDGenes in the Endocannabinoid and Opioid Systems may Provide Biomarkers of Obesity
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Cannabis is a Safe and Effect for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia

Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Fibromyalgia 

A recent study has concluded that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for patients suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, and issues sleeping. Cannabis is well known for its ability to treat pain, especially in lieu of opioids as the side effects are minimal and the risk of addiction minimal. This study found that over 200 patients were greatly benefited by cannabis as it moderated their pain and improved their mood. Future studies should aim to directly compare cannabis-based treatment with the currently accepted methods of fibromyalgia treatment to validate efficacy. 

This study highlights how beneficial cannabis can be for those patients who are treatment-resistant for the general treatment of most disorders, especially when pain is involved. Cannabis has been proven to be much safer than opioids, and yet our lack of complete information, concerning the exact mechanisms of the endocannabinoid system and how different cannabinoids act on those mechanisms severely limits our ability to offer practical, novel therapies. Cannabis has previously been shown to be beneficial for treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy and depression, which holds promise when continuing to look for novel treatments for other disorders that have proven difficult to treat. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabis is a Safe and Effect for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia
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A Report on the Psychiatric Effects of Cannabis Demonstrates the Progress and the Gaps in Cannabis Knowledge

Psychiatric effects of cannabis 

A report published by the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2001 demonstrates the progress the medical community has made but also what gaps still need to be filled in when utilizing cannabis. This report found that excess consumption of cannabis leads to feelings of panic and anxiety and that 15% of those willing to respond to a survey experienced acute psychotic symptoms. It was also found that cannabis dependence can occur, as well as withdrawal, which can last for close to a week.  This article was a review that synthesized relevant studies but also claimed that the casual conclusions of these papers were difficult to find or replicate. 

This paper is interesting given its age considering it put out what was current data but then ended by stating the casual conclusions of each paper may not stand. 18 years later, some of the data has stood, and some have not. Users can gain a tolerance to cannabis but many are looking to mitigate it. The author uses the word dependence when discussing cannabis which is a word that holds weight and is up for debate. Intoxicating cannabinoids, like THC, affect the reward center, but non-altering cannabinoids, such as CBD, tend to work more noticeably outside of the brain, although all have mixed effects in both regions. Cannabinoids are not all the same, apply quite differently to various ailments, and have divergent effects. Blanketing an entire crop with a misinformed warning label seems irresponsible and unduly harsh. Users or those looking into cannabis-based medicine are encouraged to do their research. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDA Report on the Psychiatric Effects of Cannabis Demonstrates the Progress and the Gaps in Cannabis Knowledge
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