Dronabinol Found To Be More Effective And Less Harmful Than Smoking Pot

Experts at Columbia University in New York have determined taking dronabinol (synthetic THC) may be a more effective pain reliever with fewer detrimental side effects in contrast to inhaling a few medicinal puffs from a lit marijuana-filled joint.

Dronabinol contains the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. The drug is commonly prescribed to patients suffering with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other chronically painful conditions as a means of alleviating nausea and vomiting.

The university study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, used 30 healthy people – half male, half female – all regular marijuana smokers.

Participants took part in an experiment called a “cold-pressor test,” where they immersed their hand into an ice bath for up to two minutes. For each session of the test, volunteers smoked marijuana, took oral dronabinol, and took a placebo.

Typically, a cold-pressor test is applied in cardiovascular research to measure changes in blood pressure and heart rate, examining vascular response and pulse excitability.

In this case, researchers Ziva Cooper – an assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry, and Dr. Margaret Haney – a professor of clinical neurobiology, and Co-Director of the Substance Use Research Center at Columbia University, compared the effectiveness of the aforementioned medications on pain response using this method.

Both the drug and marijuana lessened pain sensitivity and increased tolerance, but dronabinol provided longer-lasting effects, lasting up to two hours longer, and demonstrated less potential for abuse. Users, according to Medical News Daily, reported a less addictive sensation when taking dronabinol, lacking the pleasurable high normally gained from smoking marijuana.

Analysts cautioned, stating the results may be somewhat misleading as the study involved testing the pain threshold in healthy people. Therefore, it is not clear if those suffering with chronic pain would experience the same exact benefits.

Cannabis is considered a fundamental herb of traditional Chinese medicine. The cannabis (marijuana) plant, and synthetic forms of cannabinoids, have been therapeutically used as a medicinal alleviator of pain and stress for hundreds of years.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary compound responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis. THC is believed to interact with parts of the brain normally controlled by the endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, anandamide. Anandamide, which is casually referred to as the “bliss chemical,” also found in cocoa, is thought to play a role in pain sensation, memory, and sleep.

Tokers praise the curative attributes of smoking marijuana (pot) while research has revealed conflicting reports as to the cognitive side-effects of prolonged use. But cannabis’ effectiveness as an analgesic has been studied and found to be beneficial.

The US medical marijuana market, estimated to be worth $1.3 billion, is expected to reach $9 billion in the next three years. Medical marijuana has been prescribed to people suffering from severe anxiety and chronic pain.

Cancer and AIDS patients are often afflicted with pain, sleeplessness, nausea, and a lack of appetite. Lacking sleep and proper nutrition can accelerate the perniciousness of a condition as well as contribute to a poor quality of life. Medical marijuana use helps with the aforementioned side effects of disease and treatments – easing discomfort, quelling nausea, aiding sleep, and stimulating appetite.

Currently, several states are playing a legislative tug of war regarding the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The issue has strong promoters and opposers with polarized opinions. In Colorado, where marijuana use is legal, pot smokers have been fired from their jobs, regardless of the approved statute.

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