Janosch Kratz, Cannaray expert, discusses the importance of medical cannabis for chronic pain diseases
We continue to see medical cannabis being discussed globally, sold globally and used globally. While this obsession has resulted in thousands of start-ups selling their products, what about the general understanding of the public? Where do we begin, to educate the non-specialist about what medical cannabis can and cannot do? The onus is on healthcare specialists to navigate the sea of research.
Worldwide we are observing a constantly growing number of countries legalising Cannabinoids for medical purposes – more and more doctors and patients are now aware of and interested in the matter of cannabis and its medical use. The biggest task regarding this topic is the education about what cannabis actually is, what it consists of and that there is not just one type of medical cannabis.
Due to the lack of medical books and guidelines, its absence in the Curriculum of most medical faculties around the world and its complexity it can be difficult to further educate about this subject. For many health care professionals, it is a huge burden to find valid, high quality, science-based content in the jungle of information we get through the many pages in the World Wide Web what can create fear to work with cannabinoids in our daily medical practice. This problem needs to be addressed and solved with more and more education about the endocannabinoid system and possibilities of modulating it for medical purposes.
To understand what medical cannabis actually is and what it consists of we need to know that there are many different cannabis varieties (Cultivars) and that each and every one of them has its own cannabinoid and terpene profile. There are over 110 different cannabinoids and over 400 terpenes alone. The different proportions and combinations change the effect and thus the medical field of application. This is why cannabis can be used for so many different symptoms – and why people with a certain medical condition prefer one strain over another.
One of the main fields of application today are chronic pain diseases: With the right combination of cannabinoids and terpenes not only pain can be relieved, but also e.g. sleep quality and appetite can be increased. Interestingly, cannabinoids do not appear to be pure analgesics in the classical sense, but they have numerous properties that are of great importance in chronic pain. For example, many patients report that although they are not completely pain-free, they are better able to cope with it through cannabis therapy. Combined with improved sleep quality, this helps the patient to remain more active, to go to work or to perform his daily tasks in life. The quality of life of the patients can thus be significantly improved.
Different combinations of Cannabinoids and Terpenes can also be used for the treatment of nervousness, panic attacks, restlessness and stress disorders. There is also treatment potential for stress-related diseases such as migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and insomnia. Especially in elderly patients with anxiety disorders and agitation I see a high potential for application due to the good tolerability and the low drug interactions.
At the Charité in Berlin a second, large-scale study is currently being conducted to investigate the antipsychotic effect of CBD in psychiatric diseases – also a very interesting new field of application.
Janosch Kratz is an expert involved in the Cannaray scientific advisory board.