Opioids have been mis-sold and over-prescribed

Opioid overdoses alone accounted for over 47,000 deaths in the United States in 2017, with an estimated 1.7m people suffering from addiction to prescription opioid-based medication. Opioids are primarily used for pain relief, but are highly addictive, resulting in chronic misuse.

The problem in the US has been aggravated by aggressive and irresponsible marketing by drug companies and a lack of focus on the dangers of the side effects, which can make it incredibly difficult to stop using this type of medication.

Europe has fared much better because the pharmaceutical industry has tighter commercial regulations than the US. Now, on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world, health professionals are examining how cannabis-based medicines could provide a viable alternative to opioids, and even help people with the withdrawal process. 

Could cannabis molecules provide a solution?

With attitudes to cannabis changing, a new generation of non-addictive products could soon be standard options for doctors and their patients.

Cannaflavin A and B are cannabis molecules that are non-psychoactive (so no ‘high’) but specifically target inflammation. Research suggests that they may be 30 times more effective when compared with aspirin in treating inflammation.

Much of this was known as long ago as the 1980s, but politically driven anti-cannabis legislation prevented effective further research in this area. Spearheaded by the deregulation of the cannabis market in Canada, medical research teams can now refocus their attention on effective cannabis medicines.

The challenge is that cannaflavins represent less than 0.5% of a cannabis plant, so creative solutions will be needed to maximize the potential of this type of medication – such as creating a synthetic version that can provide the same benefits to those with chronic pain and inflammation.

Thankfully many parts of the cannabis plant have similar properties. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), which are the most commonly found active components, are also closely linked with pain mediation and anti-inflammation

Studies have also shown that cannabis medications may be able to directly help people addicted to opioids to safely withdraw more easily.

Mind Body Community says:

Deregulation of the cannabis market is opening the door to a range of safer, non-addictive medications that can give patients greater control over pain-management without the risk of turning an initial problem into a dangerous addiction.