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Sickle Cell Disease and Medical Marijuana

Does Medical Marijuana Have Therapeutic Value For Sickle-Cell Disease Pain?

There has been increasing consideration regarding the use of cannabinoids or medical marijuana, for the management of a variety of painful conditions. It is also being particularly considered as a treatment option for the pain that is experienced in sickle-cell disease (SCD).

In sickle-cell disease (SCD), pain is among the dominant and prevalent symptoms, and managing the pain can prove to be quite challenging. This pain, which is associated with inflammation, can get so severe and recur so acutely at unexpected intervals that opioid analgesics and anti-inflammatories are generally prescribed. This pain can also become so chronic that consistent medication presents its own set of problems.

In adults suffering from sickle cell disease, it has been reported that the duration and frequency of painful episodes vary between individuals to a great extent. Pain intensity and the number of painful episodes are influenced by coping strategies.
In both community and hospital settings, the use of opioids has proven to be unsatisfactory in the treatment of the pain experienced by patients
suffering from sickle cell disease. The inherent problems associated with assessing the pain or the perception with which patients become dependent on opioids may be the reason behind this. In London, a semi-structured questionnaire study was recently conducted regarding the symptoms of substance abuse and dependence in patients suffering from sickle-cell disease. According to the results, it is possible to perceive some coping methods as analgesic dependence.
Thus, the use of non-proprietary preparations, especially the cannaboids found in the Medical Marijuana, is one area of SCD pain management that is in the process of being investigated. Cannabis or marijuana is now widely recognised for its benefits in acute pain management. Therefore, it is plausible that it could be used by some patients to relieve the intense pain they experience as a result of various medical conditions, such as sickle cell disease.
A mixture of phytocannabinoids can be found in cannabis. Comprehensive investigation has been conducted in the laboratory revolving around the synthetic congeners of phytocannabinoids and their effects on pain sensation. Due to legal restrictions there are few pharmaceutical cannabis preparations containing phytocannabinoids that can be used in humans. However, it has been reported that patients suffering from intractable neurogenic pain experienced an improved in pain relief after consuming a whole-plant extract from a Medical Marijuana. Moreover, the extract contained equal portions of the active cannabinoids CBD, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and THC).
Additionally, demonstrations in rats suffering from chemically induced arthritis have revealed that cannabinoid, one of the cannaboids that cannabis contains, has both anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects. Thus, this suggests that Medical Marijuana may have beneficial therapeutic effect in sickle-cell disease, considering the fact that cannaboids function as both anti-inflammatory and analgesics.