Health Care

Evidence that cannabis use helps pain or PTSD is lacking, say researchers

Evidence that cannabis use helps pain or PTSD is lacking, say researchers”

One in 10 US adults use cannabis, the researchers note. Medical cannabis is legal in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Up to 85 percent of people who seek to use marijuana in the United States claim that it is for pain management. With very little quality evidence available, the efficacy of cannabis - and cannabinoid products - for treating pain and PTSD remains unknown.

In a second analysis assessing five other studies about cannabis use specifically for PTSD, there was again little to no data determining how much it does or doesn't help during treatment.

Worse still, one study of veterans with PTSD showed a small but "significant" worsening of symptoms among veterans who either started or continued using cannabis during the study period, the team said. They noted several potential risks of marijuana use such as vehicle accidents, psychotic symptoms and "short-term cognitive impairment".

Armentano added that most large studies are funded by pharmaceutical companies trying to get a drug to market.

Earlier this year Dr. David Shulkin, secretary of Veterans Affairs, said in a statement that the helpful effects of marijuana treatment were something Veterans Affairs was interested in looking into further.

One area researchers are exploring is the use of cannabis to help ease mental health problems that can lead to suicide among veterans. Increasingly, people are turning to cannabis to treat a range of symptoms and conditions, including nausea, bipolar disorder and seizures.

NORML's Armentano said anti-pot laws and politics have "greatly impeded researchers' ability to conduct the sort of robust, large-scale, prolonged clinical trials that are typically associated with eventual U.S. Food and Drug Administration drug approval".

It's possible one group of cannabinoids, or groups of molecules in cannabis plants, may be responsible for both the high experienced by recreational users and the pain relief seen in some studies, said Dr. Winfried Hauser, a pain specialist at Klinikum Saarbrucken in Germany who wasn't involved in the current studies.

The researchers said their findings may have "limited applicability to older, chronically ill populations and patients who use cannabis heavily".

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