Bolstering the case for medical marijuana scientists at the University of California have found that combining it with opiate-based painkillers provided greater relief to patients of chronic pain. The scientists intended to show that the cannabis, rather than relieving pain itself, actually caused the opiate medicine such as morphine or oxycodone to be more effective.
While the cannabis did not bolster the opiates in the blood, the patients all declared that their pain had been significantly decreased. The research was conducted on a small-scale group. According to the National Centers for Health Statistics, 76 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, more than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.
The study was conducted by administering controlled amounts of cannabinoids, the main ingredient in medical marijuana, via inhalation through a vaporizer. The goal was to see if adding the cannabinoids changed the level of opiates in the blood stream. The researchers measured the opiate levels prior to the cannabis.
The patients were subject to vaporized cannabis for four consecutive days. The result was a very slight drop in opiate levels, leading the scientists to believe that the patients would receive less pain relief. However, they were surprised to find that the patients actually reported an increase in their overall pain relief.
Those who were on morphine reported a 33 percent reduction in pain, and those on oxycodone reported a 34 percent reduction. The results imply that patients may be able to decrease their intake of opiates but receive greater pain relief by also taking medical marijuana.
This can be extremely beneficial due to the negative side effects of opiates, which can be highly addictive, suppress the respiratory system, and cause nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. The report was published in the journal, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.