Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Marijuana, Narcotics Help Patients Reduce Chronic Pain, Study Finds

WASHINGTON -- A new study out of UC San Francisco has found that medical marijuana, combined with certain opiates, appears to be a safe and effective treatment for patients with chronic pain.

The study, published this month in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, found that patients who use cannabinoids inhaled through a vaporizer, combined with long-acting morphine or long-acting oxycodone, experienced a greater reduction of pain than those who used opiates alone.

The 21 chronic pain patients involved in the study were split into two groups. Those who combined four consecutive days of exposure to vaporized cannabis with morphine experienced a 33 percent reduction in pain, while those who combined it with oxycodone saw a drop in pain of 20 percent. The study is the first to examine the combined effect of these drugs on humans.

"Pain is a big problem in America and chronic pain is a reason many people utilize the health care system," said lead author Donald Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine at UCSF and chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. "And chronic pain is, unfortunately, one of the problems we're least capable of managing effectively."
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