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Cannabis as Painkiller
07 August 2012
Deutsches Aerzteblatt International
Cannabis-based medications have been proved to relieve pain. This is the conclusion drawn by Franjo Grotenhermen and Kirsten Müller-Vahl in issue 29–30 of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.
Cannabis medications can be used in patients whose symptoms are not adequately alleviated by conventional treatment. The indications are muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy, loss of appetite in HIV/Aids, and neuropathic pain.
The clinical effect of the various cannabis-based medications rests primarily on activation of endogenous cannabinoid receptors. Consumption of therapeutic amounts by adults does not lead to irreversible cognitive impairment. The risk is much greater, however, in children and adolescents (particularly before puberty), even at therapeutic doses.
Over 100 controlled trials of the effects of cannabinoids in various indications have been carried out since 1975. The positive results have led to official licensing of cannabis-based medications in many countries. In Germany, a cannabis extract was approved in 2011 for treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis. In June 2012 the Federal Joint Committee (the highest decision-making body for the joint self-government of physicians, dentists, hospitals and health insurance funds in Germany) pronounced that the cannabis extract showed a slight additional benefit for this indication and granted a temporary license until 2015.