Pain and insomnia are two pretty common health issues, which is why there is no shortage of medication on the market targeting these conditions. However, individual sleep and pain meds and combination drugs like Tylenol PM come with a host of serious side effects that many people are unwilling to take on. Now, a new study points to a cannabis as a very effective treatment for pain and insomnia, potentially replacing sleep medications and even prescription pain medications like opioids.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, involved 1,000 people who were taking marijuana legally within the U.S. A full 65 percent of people reported that they were taking cannabis for pain, and four fifths of those in this group said that it was either “very” or “extremely” helpful in addressing their pain.
In fact, 82 percent of the people in this group said they were able to stop taking over-the-counter pain meds altogether or reduce their usage, while 88 percent said they were able to stop using opioid painkillers.
Its track record is also impressive when it comes to fighting sleep problems. Nearly three fourths of those interviewed said they bought marijuana to help them sleep, and 84 percent of that group said it helped them. An impressive 83 percent even said that they had reduced or quit taking prescription or OTC sleep aids as a result.
A potential replacement for deadly opioids and risky OTC meds
These results indicate that cannabis could lower people’s use of opioids, although the researchers do believe that more research is needed to gain further understanding of cannabis’s therapeutic benefits.
Anything that could keep people away from deadly opioids is welcome news. People develop a tolerance to these drugs, which means they need more and more to get the same effect, dramatically increasing their risk of a fatal overdose.
Even over-the-counter painkillers are dangerous, with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen known to cause gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney damage. Acetaminophen, meanwhile, is highly toxic to the liver. It’s the second most common cause of liver transplantation around the world and is behind 56,000 emergency room visits, 500 deaths, and 2,600 hospitalizations in the U.S. alone each year.
Sleeping pills are also dangerous, leading to dependence and often leaving people feeling groggy the next day. With the National Sleep Foundation reporting that up to 40 percent of the population experiences insomnia at some point in their lives, the need for a good solution is strong.
Marijuana is considered an effective sleep aid because it has the ability to restore a person’s natural sleep cycle, while its anti-anxiety properties can help people to relax enough to fall and stay asleep.
Study’s results backed up by other data
The participants in this study were all individuals who bought cannabis legally at retail stores in the state of Colorado, where both recreational and medical marijuana use are legal for those older than 21.
The survey was carried out using customers who were willing to participate, which may have influenced the results to some extent, but other data from national surveys and medical cannabis dispensary patient data shows that those who use cannabis for treating symptoms often reduce or end their reliance on prescription medications.
Other data shows that states that have put medical cannabis laws in place enjoy a 6.38 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing. In addition, a drop in the overall opioid overdose death rate between 1999 and 2010 in Colorado has been partly attributed to the state’s adult use cannabis law.
Now that attitudes toward marijuana use are changing and research into its benefits is increasing, many people could finally get some safe relief from common problems like pain and sleep issues.
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