Review of marijuana therapy

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A new review of studies investigating the effects of marijuana has been published.

It undertook the large task of critically looking at a large number of studies investigating this option over the last 20 years

It focuses on effects on chronic pain and PTSD.

It appears pot does little to help with PTSD.

When it comes to chronic pain, well… it’s complicated.

There seems to be a small, but clear benefit for its use in cases of neuropathic pain, caused by actual nerve injuries. Those may stem from direct trauma, inflammation or metabolic disturbances (diabetes). It also seems to have some effect alleviating anxiety and tension, relieving insomnia and overall, improving quality of life in the short term.

On the other hand, it does not appear to have an effect on other types of pain, originating in other tissues (muscles, joints, bones, ligaments and tendons, internal organs).

Furthermore, counterbalancing the positives, there is a definite number of side effects, both immediate and long-term; car accidents, episodes of psychosis, manias, cognitive impairment seem to crop up soon after its use. The long term effect, whether related to development of dependence or not, results in different but clear degrees of mental impairment and disability. Say what you may about opioids, but blaming them for similar (irreversible) results has proven much more difficult.

As promised, we embarked on a search for the truth in service to our patients. We are still on the sidelines, but we are getting educated. And we will come to a conclusion regarding the careful use of marijuana in selected cases.

But if you choose to use it before we can become good stewards of your trust, ask about the dark side. Providing it just because we can (and it’s good business) may be good in a lot of other commercial areas but not medicine.

Thank you for your patience.

C. Savu, MD

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