Opiates vs. Cannabis and Our
Freedom To Choose
By John Malanca
If you or a loved one uses (or would like to use) cannabis to treat a medical condition, this will be the most important article you read today. Although this article revolves around pain, medical cannabis has been shown to treat 32 medical conditions.
The United States is in the middle of a chronic pain epidemic. And, we don’t have the freedom to do anything about it on the federal level. Almost 1 in 5 Americans suffer from “severe levels” of pain, while 11% have experienced some form of pain every day for the last three months.
Millions of people in this country are not living life to the fullest. Many more may be bed-ridden, house-bound or reliant on caregivers because of their ongoing, never-ending agony.
The “Standard of Care” for pain through the conventional medical system is nothing more than prescription opioids. Opioid drugs for pain are not always the most viable solution. They can even be life threatening, as you’ll learn in a few moments.
There is a safe and effective option available, however, not everyone in pain has safe, legal access. This alternative treatment is of course, medical cannabis.
The Opioid Crisis is Real
Pain sufferers in the United States consume more opioid pain medications per capita than any other country. An international team of researchers analyzed United Nations data for 2012 – 2014 and found Americans consume more that 5 ½ times more opioids than France and over 8 times more than Italy. Even though all 3 countries have similar number of chronic pain sufferers per capita.
What’s going on? Experts speculate the difference could only be attributed to one thing: America is particularly “friendly” with opioid manufacturers. And of course, these manufacturers donate huge sums of money to politicians, political organizations and regulatory bodies.
Dr. Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and affiliated faculty member at the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, painted a somber picture in a recent article for the Washington Post:
“It is those features of American exceptionalism, and not exceptional physical pain, that sparked the worst prescription opioid epidemic in history.” Opioid use over a long time can kill in more subtle ways as well.
‘According to 2016 statistics provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 115 Americans die every day from prescription painkiller overdose. In addition to overdose, many long-term opioid users eventually succumb to a condition called “respiration depression.”
Respiration depression is caused by changes in opioid receptors in the central nervous system that affect breathing.
To make matters worse, Americans are not just taking one opioid at a time. In 2017, U.S. doctors filled 13 prescriptions on average for every man, woman and child in America. The majority of those were for prescription painkillers.
Medical Cannabis Is Safe and Effective for Pain
Being empowered with your health begins with education. Not only on the dangers of certain drugs, but also safer alternative treatments like medical cannabis. This knowledge has the power to save lives, it could be yours, a loved one or any of the 115 people who die every day from opioids.
Cannabis can provide a way out of the “opioid rat race” and people have been using it for the past 5,000 years all over the world. And, now we have evidence-based science to back it up.
Pain and Medical Cannabis 101
It may be helpful to know a few simple facts for your own understanding of the healing power of cannabis sativa.
The pain relieving chemicals in cannabis are called cannabinoids. There is a whole system within the human body called the Endocannabinoid System which interacts with cannabinoids.
This system was discovered in the mid-1990’s by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. Research has pointed to the Endocannabinoid System as able to subtly support all other systems, including the immune system, the gut and also the brain.
Your body actually makes its own cannabinoids. However, because of lifestyle, diet and internal and external stressors, your natural supply of cannabinoids often become depleted. The human body has receptor sites that are a perfect fit the for various compounds found in medical cannabis. Two of the most well known compounds are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
To understand how cannabis can relieve pain, it’s important to know how the sensation of pain works. Pain is caused by the activation of brain cells in certain regions of the brain. The Cannabinoids in cannabis significantly relieve pain by connecting to pain receptors in the central nervous system, where pain signals are modulated.
Cannabis is not like your typical opioid based painkiller, which act to numb pain receptors. Instead, the cannabinoids utilize the endocannabinoid system to calm the central nervous system and lower inflammation. This process changes how we perceive pain which provides relief of painful sensations.
3 Kinds of Pain: Medical Cannabis Helps Them All
According to conventional medicine, there are 3 types of pain:
#1 Nociceptive pain. This type of pain is caused by an injury, like a twisted ankle. It is often localized and acute.
#2 Neuropathic pain. This is pain due to damage of the central nervous system or it’s connecting nerves. Think of back pain or muscle spasms.
#3 Central pain. This pain has no specific source. The best example is Fibromyalgia.
There is good news because cannabis can help with all three, often with more effectiveness than opioids.
Here’s a few specific conditions where research has proved this fact:
Fibromyalgia. Close to 5 million Americans suffer from the effects of fibromyalgia. Several recent studies point to imbalances in the “hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis” as a primary cause. Cannabis has the ability to balance these delicate hormonal interactions. This was the case for 1,300 fibromyalgia sufferers in a recent study conducted by the National Pain Foundation.
Neuropathy. A 2007 study conducted by San Francisco General Hospital found that smoked cannabis was “well tolerated and provided effective relief for neuropathic pain associated with HIV/AIDS”.
Migraines. A 2017 study of 120 migraine sufferers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver found that 40% of participants were able to cut their occurance of headaches down by half. Headaches were reduced from 10 a month to 4 – 5 a month. These participants used a low-level of cannabis daily.
Chronic pain in general. A clinical trial put on by McGill University in Montreal, Canada monitored middle-aged men and woman who had chronic pain. The study found that cannabis reduced pain intensity and improved quality of sleep with little or no side effects.
Cannabis Can Help You or a Loved One with Opioid Addiction
By systematically replacing opioids with cannabis, you can slowly get out of the cycle of opioid dependence. Many of the studies mentioned above (and many more) use opioid drugs as the baseline for control groups when assessing the effectiveness of cannabis for pain.
Hands down, cannabis “outperforms” opioids in its effectiveness for pain every time.
Out of 540 opioid users surveyed by Dr. Dustin Sulak, founder of Integr8 Health, 39% were able to completely stop their opioid use by using cannabis. Eighty seven percent said that it improved the quality of their life.
You Should Have the Right to Choose Your Medicine
Many states now have medical cannabis laws, allowing patients limited access.
However, the federal prohibition of cannabis still lingers above their head. Because of this, patients must pay for their medicine out of pocket since insurance companies will not pay for it. Not only that, 72% of the American population is at risk of losing their employment due to drug testing, simply because they choose a safer pain reliever.
It’s your body, whether you’re in pain or treating any other condition… you should have the freedom to choose what medicine is best for you. This is injustice of the highest order. Unfortunately, politicians have stolen this freedom of choice from you and I.
This is why three powerful, pro-patient organizations– The Sacred Plant, Americans for Safe Access and United Patients Group —have joined forces and created a campaign to finally regain our freedoms.
We are petitioning the federal government to remove the restrictions on medical cannabis so Americans can be educated and empowered in using this powerful plant for treatment of pain and other conditions.
September is Pain Awareness Month and we are sending a big message to the federal government demanding our right to choose what’s best for us.
Take a stand, let your voice be heard, help stop this injustice.
Together we CAN make a difference. Please go here to find out more and to sign our petition.
John Malanca never thought he would be so passionate about The Sacred Plant (a.k.a cannabis). But that all changed when his father-in-law, Stan, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and was sent to hospice to die. John and his wife, Corinne, were told that Stan had just weeks to live.
After conventional treatments didn’t work, John and Corinne decided to try something different and began to treat Stan using medical cannabis. Within a week he was showing amazing improvement. Within a month John and Corinne’s hope turned into belief. And… he’s still alive today 6+ years later.
As a result of this experience, John and Corinne founded United Patients Group (UPG), a trusted resource and leader in medical cannabis for physicians, patients, and organizations. UPG acts as a virtual hand for patients by helping them navigate through this ever-changing industry.
John gives interviews regularly, most recently CNN and The Washington Post and is proud to be the host and advocate for The Sacred Plant company: Healing Secrets Exposed and Healing Secrets Examined docuseries’ in addition to co-leading and co-creating The Sacred Plant: Healing Secrets Explained webinar series with beautiful wife, Corinne.
John continues to enjoy a healthy lifestyle of mind, body, and Spirit. He believes in a compassionate approach to health and healing and has dedicated his career to alleviating pain and suffering with the use of medical cannabis.
- Opioid Overdose: Understanding the Epidemic
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