Naturopath Peter Lewis has researched the benefits and risks of cannabis as pain relief.
Naturopath Peter Lewis has researched the benefits and risks of cannabis as pain relief. Bill North

Cannabis benefits and risks

IN my previous article that I titled Managing Chronic Pain, resultant readership focused to cannabis, however this was not my focus.

My focus was clearly discussion in safely managing chronic pain.

Regarding cannabis I raised concerns for its medicinal usage, the simple basis is there are many safer herbals proving useful in chronic pain treatment.

It is clearly stated here I have no association with cannabis and I was merely reporting data from professional literature. My concerns focus on optimising natural physiology welfare.

As a substance that relieves pain and reduces tension, its usefulness cannot be questioned. Extensive credible knowledge of pain-relieving properties exists in British, Canadian, Indian plus American and South African pharmacology texts.

As previously mentioned, cannabis does have an additive effect used with opiate and barbiturate pain-relieving drugs. However, these pharmacology texts clearly discuss adverse risk concerns as well as possible benefit.

Cannabis chiefly influences the central nervous system; an active constituent is cannabinol, C21H30O2 once obtained as a reddish oil substance, has a significant narcotic action.

The concern is that narcotics, although having activity in pain relief, may sometimes give rise to numbness.

That cannabis possibly will reduce vomiting is recognised in medical herbalism. However, it is also known that ingestion may reflexly cause nausea and vomiting.

A potential concern suggests cannabis has a gateway drug reputation, in other words its use may perhaps lead to using harmful substances that may impair natural body function.

For example, it may give rise to short-term memory impairment.

There is some concern cannabis may perhaps adversely bring about birth defects (teratogen), which is a cause for concern with the developing foetus.

Newborns may have low birth weight or impaired motor function.

Offspring reaching adolescence may possibly develop mental illness.

Suggestion points to possible benefit for sleeplessness, easing vomiting or pain during chemotherapy. Gamma-Linolenic Acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that could add to immunity. Although its presence is known in cannabis, another herbal having Gamma-Linolenic Acid and possessing a reliable safety profile is borage.

Impaired motor signalling and abnormal ovarian or sperm function has been associated with cannabis use, which is concerning.

Exhaustion, stuttering, vertigo, burning during urination may also occur.

As can be seen, adverse risks and benefits are broad ranging. All herbal medicines have risks and benefits, so should be taken with caution.

Peter Lewis is a registered naturopath practitioner at Rockhampton Health Options.



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