A new study into Sickle Cell Disease has found that vaporized cannabis could be an effective solution to treating pain – without patients needing opioids.
Sickle Cell Disease is a group of blood disorders known to impact the haemoglobin in red blood cells, causing the sickle shape. Sufferers of the disease live with anaemia, hypertension, infections and constant neuropathic pain. However, a new study suggests cannabis could be an effective form of pain treatment.
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of California was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week. During the study, researchers tested the effectiveness of vaporized cannabis against a placebo drug, using two separate testing periods a month apart. The cannabis researchers used contained 4.4% THC and 4.9% CBD.
In the study, participants were given three doses of the drug daily, over a five-day inpatient stay. All twenty-three participants were sufferers of Sickle Cell Disease, which affects millions of people worldwide.
While there was no significant difference between the pain management offered by the placebo drug and vaporised cannabis, cannabis came with one unique benefit. During the trial, participants were found to need fewer opioids while using vaporized cannabis.
To researchers, this suggests that vaporized cannabis could be an effective substitute for opioids, which are highly addictive and account for 62% of drug-induced deaths worldwide. The research was co-led by Dr Kalpna Gupta, a professor of medicine and faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Cannabis.
These trial results show that vaporized cannabis appears to be generally safe. They also suggest that sickle cell patients might be able to mitigate their pain with cannabis.
While cannabis might be safe, research into the safety of vaping is still inconclusive. According to epidemiologist Jacob Borodovsky, e-cigarettes alter the chemical composition of cannabis while delivering the drug, potentially causing lung disease not seen in other dope-delivery methods.
Nevertheless, the findings of the University of California’s research are consistent with another study into opioid use – which you can find here.