Can marijuana help with pain and depression?

Marijuana Legalization Linked To Decline In Daily Doses Of Prescription Drugs For Pain, Depression

The legalization of medical marijuana in some states has led to an overall reduction of the use of prescription drugs, the Inquisitr reported Thursday, but daily doses of prescription drugs for depression and pain specifically have fallen significantly in these states. Half of the states and Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana to treat certain health problems, including painful nerve conditions and depression.

Researchers at the University of Georgia looked at a number of conditions — including depression — and pain for which marijuana is considered an alternative treatment to prescription medication in many of the states that have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana. Over the course of three years, with the introduction of medical marijuana, daily doses of prescription drugs for pain and depression fell, according to co-author W. David Bradford.

Medical News Today deducted that the findings indicate that many people are turning to medical marijuana as a preferred treatment to their pain and depression over prescription drugs. Interestingly, the hope of getting a medical marijuana card might even have led to more people to actually seek treatment for their conditions.

Pain is the most Googled search term linked to marijuana, according to the authors. The team examined Medicare Part D statistics to obtain their data, and published the results in the July issue of Health Affairs.

“The results suggest people are really using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes,” the study’s lead author Ashley Bradford, said. Meanwhile, under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed as having no medical use. The team’s findings, a press release indicates, validate states’ assessments that marijuana does have medical value.

There is scientific evidence that cannabinoids possess pain ­relieving properties, and some clinical evidence to support their medical use for patients suffering from painful conditions,” Harborside Health Center writes. “Cannabis helps cancer and HIV patients and others who suffer from the most severe cases of chronic pain. While some people can’t walk without experiencing severe pain, others are unable to eat regularly due to a decreased appetite from other prescribed medications.”

An article in The National Academies Press states that peripheral nerves that detect pain are abundant in cannabinoids receptors, and cannabinoids found in marijuana seem to be able to block peripheral nerve pain. What’s more, NORML claims that in cases when pain is nerve-related, as is the case in pain caused by diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV, and cancer, standard analgesic medications such as opiates and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are actually often ineffective at relieving this type of pain, but medical marijuana is highly effective.

Last year, a study concluded that medical marijuana could also be an effective treatment against depression, Huffington Post reported. Against long-held belief, this year, new research published in JAMA Psychiatry found that using marijuana as an adult actually is not associated with an increase in mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. For decades, it was almost considered common knowledge that that marijuana use could lead to depression and anxiety.

Of course, research studies can suggest one health claim one day and a different health claim the next. The University of Georgia research at least shows a definite decline in prescription drug use for pain and depression after medical marijuana legalization.

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