A Survey on the Effect That Medical Cannabis Has on Prescription Opioid Medication Usage for the Treatment of Chronic Pain at Three Medical Cannabis Practice Sites

Cureus | LinkedIn“Objective: The opioid epidemic continues to claim thousands of lives every year without an effective strategy useful in mitigating mortality. The use of medical cannabis has been proposed as a potential strategy to decrease opioid usage. The objective of this study was to determine how the use of medical cannabis affects prescribed opioid usage in chronic pain patients.

Methods: We conducted an online convenience sample survey of patients from three medical cannabis practice sites who had reported using opioids. A total of 1181 patients responded, 656 were excluded for not using medical cannabis in combination with opioid use or not meeting the definition of chronic pain, leaving 525 patients who had used prescription opioid medications continuously for at least three months to treat chronic pain and were using medical cannabis in combination with their prescribed opioid use.

Results: Overall, 40.4% (n=204) reported that they stopped all opioids, 45.2% (n=228) reported some decrease in their opioid usage, 13.3% (n=67) reported no change in opioid usage, and 1.1% (n=6) reported an increase in opioid usage. The majority (65.3%, n=299) reported that they sustained the opioid change for over a year. Almost half (48.2%, n=241) reported a 40-100% decrease in pain while 8.6% (n=43) had no change in pain and 2.6% (n=13) had worsening pain. The majority reported improved ability to function (80.0%, n=420) and improved quality of life (87.0%, n=457) with medical cannabis. The majority (62.8%, n=323) did not want to take opioids in the future. While the change in pain level was not affected by age and gender, the younger age group had improved ability to function compared with the middle and older age groups.

Conclusions: Patients in this study reported that cannabis was a useful adjunct and substitute for prescription opioids in treating their chronic pain and had the added benefit of improving the ability to function and quality of life.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33409086/

“Our results show a remarkable percentage of patients both reporting complete cessation of opioids and decreasing opioid usage by the addition of medical cannabis, with results lasting for over a year for the majority. Additional benefits of medical cannabis included improved ability to function and improved quality of life, especially for the younger age group. We believe our results lend further support that medical cannabis provided in a standardized protocol can lead to decreased pain and opioid usage, improved function, and quality of life measures, and even complete cessation of opioids in patients with chronic pain treated by opioids.”

https://www.cureus.com/articles/41928-a-survey-on-the-effect-that-medical-cannabis-has-on-prescription-opioid-medication-usage-for-the-treatment-of-chronic-pain-at-three-medical-cannabis-practice-sites

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Cannabis use is associated with reduced risk of exposure to fentanyl among people on opioid agonist therapy during a community-wide overdose crisis

Drug and Alcohol Dependence “Background: The ongoing opioid overdose crisis is driven largely by exposure to illicitly-manufactured fentanyl. Preliminary observational and experimental research suggests that cannabis could potentially play a role in reducing use of prescription opioids among individuals with chronic pain. However, there is limited data on the effects of cannabis on illicit opioid consumption, particularly fentanyl, especially among individuals on opioid agonist therapy (OAT). We sought to assess the longitudinal association between cannabis use and exposure to fentanyl among people on OAT.

Results: Among the 819 participants on OAT who contributed 1989 observations over the study period, fentanyl exposure was common. At the baseline interview, fentanyl was detected in a majority of participants (431, 53 %), with lower prevalence among individuals with urine drug tests positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (47 vs. 56 %, p = 0.028). Over all study interviews, cannabis use was independently associated with reduced likelihood of being recently exposed to fentanyl (Adjusted Prevalence Ratio = 0.91, 95 % Confidence Interval: 0.83 – 0.99).

Conclusions: Participants on OAT using cannabis had significantly lower risk of being exposed to fentanyl. Our findings reinforce the need for experimental trials to investigate the potential benefits and risks of controlled cannabinoid administration for people on OAT.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33342591/

“Opioid agonist therapies (OAT) are the primary treatments for opioid use disorder. Exposure to fentanyl is driving mortality risk in the overdose crisis. Among 819 participants on OAT, cannabis was negatively associated with fentanyl. Experimental trials are needed to evaluate cannabis use during OAT.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0376871620305858?via%3Dihub

“Cannabis could reduce fentanyl use, reduce overdose risk: study” https://www.bccsu.ca/blog/news-release/cannabis-could-reduce-fentanyl-use-reduce-overdose-risk-study/

“Cannabis could reduce fentanyl use, reduce overdose risk” https://www.med.ubc.ca/news/cannabis-could-reduce-fentanyl-use-reduce-overdose-risk/

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Cannabis Significantly Reduces the Use of Prescription Opioids and Improves Quality of Life in Authorized Patients: Results of a Large Prospective Study

Pain Medicine“Objectives: This article presents findings from a large prospective examination of Canadian medical cannabis patients, with a focus on the impacts of cannabis on prescription opioid use and quality of life over a 6-month period.

Results: Participants were 57.6% female, with a median age of 52 years. Baseline opioid use was reported by 28% of participants, dropping to 11% at 6 months. Daily opioid use went from 152 mg morphine milligram equivalent (MME) at baseline to 32.2 mg MME at 6 months, a 78% reduction in mean opioid dosage. Similar reductions were also seen in the other four primary prescription drug classes identified by participants, and statistically significant improvements were reported in all four domains of the WHOQOL-BREF.

Conclusions: This study provides an individual-level perspective of cannabis substitution for opioids and other prescription drugs, as well as associated improvement in quality of life over 6 months. The high rate of cannabis use for chronic pain and the subsequent reductions in opioid use suggest that cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the opioid overdose crisis, potentially improving the quality of life of patients and overall public health.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33367882/

https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/pm/pnaa396/6053211?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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Use of Cannabis for Self-Management of Chronic Pelvic Pain

 View details for Journal of Women's Health cover image“Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) affects up to 15% of women in the United States. The endocannabinoid system is a potential pharmacological target for pelvic pain as cannabinoid receptors are highly expressed in the uterus and other nonreproductive tissues.

We hypothesize that cannabis use is common for self-management of CPP, and our primary objective was to determine the prevalence of cannabis use in this population.

Results: A total of 240 patients were approached, with 113 responses (47.1% response rate). There were 26 patients who used cannabis (23%). The majority used at least once per week (n = 18, 72%). Most users (n = 24, 96%) reported improvement in symptoms, including pain, cramping, muscle spasms, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, libido, and irritability. Over one-third (35%) stated that cannabis use decreased the number of phone calls or messages sent to their provider, and 39% reported decreased number of clinical visits. Side effects, including dry mouth, sleepiness, and feeling “high,” were reported by 84% (n = 21).

Conclusions: Almost one-quarter of patients with CPP report regular use of cannabis as an adjunct to their prescribed therapy. Although side effects are common, most users report improvement in symptoms. Our study highlights the potential of cannabis as a therapeutic option for patients with CPP.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33252316/

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jwh.2020.8737

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Consensus-Based Recommendations for Titrating Cannabinoids and Tapering Opioids for Chronic Pain Control

International Journal of Clinical Practice“Opioid misuse and overuse has contributed to a widespread overdose crisis and many patients and physicians are considering medical cannabis to support opioid tapering and chronic pain control. Using a five-step modified Delphi process, we aimed to develop consensus-based recommendations on: 1) when and how to safely initiate and titrate cannabinoids in the presence of opioids, 2) when and how to safely taper opioids in the presence of cannabinoids, and 3) how to monitor patients and evaluate outcomes when treating with opioids and cannabinoids.

Results: In patients with chronic pain taking opioids not reaching treatment goals, there was consensus that cannabinoids may be considered for patients experiencing or displaying opioid-related complications, despite psychological or physical interventions. There was consensus observed to initiate with a cannabidiol (CBD)-predominant oral extract in the daytime and consider adding tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When adding THC, start with 0.5-3 mg, and increase by 1-2 mg once or twice weekly up to 30-40 mg/day. Initiate opioid tapering when the patient reports a minor/major improvement in function, seeks less as-needed medication to control pain, and/or the cannabis dose has been optimized. The opioid tapering schedule may be 5%-10% of the morphine equivalent dose (MED) every 1 to 4 weeks. Clinical success could be defined by an improvement in function/quality of life, a ≥ 30% reduction in pain intensity, a ≥ 25% reduction in opioid dose, a reduction in opioid dose to < 90 mg MED, and/or reduction in opioid-related adverse events.

Conclusions: This five-stage modified Delphi process led to the development of consensus-based recommendations surrounding the safe introduction and titration of cannabinoids in concert with tapering opioids.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33249713/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijcp.13871

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Antinociception mechanisms of action of cannabinoid-based medicine: an overview for anesthesiologists and pain physicians

 Pain Rounds“Cannabinoid-based medications possess unique multimodal analgesic mechanisms of action, modulating diverse pain targets.

Cannabinoids are classified based on their origin into three categories: endocannabinoids (present endogenously in human tissues), phytocannabinoids (plant derived) and synthetic cannabinoids (pharmaceutical). Cannabinoids exert an analgesic effect, peculiarly in hyperalgesia, neuropathic pain and inflammatory states.

Endocannabinoids are released on demand from postsynaptic terminals and travels retrograde to stimulate cannabinoids receptors on presynaptic terminals, inhibiting the release of excitatory neurotransmitters. Cannabinoids (endogenous and phytocannabinoids) produce analgesia by interacting with cannabinoids receptors type 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2), as well as putative non-CB1/CB2 receptors; G protein-coupled receptor 55, and transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1. Moreover, they modulate multiple peripheral, spinal and supraspinal nociception pathways.

Cannabinoids-opioids cross-modulation and synergy contribute significantly to tolerance and antinociceptive effects of cannabinoids. This narrative review evaluates cannabinoids’ diverse mechanisms of action as it pertains to nociception modulation relevant to the practice of anesthesiologists and pain medicine physicians.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33239391/

https://rapm.bmj.com/content/early/2020/11/24/rapm-2020-102114

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Calling for Openness to the Study of Cannabis Use in Chronic Pelvic Pain

JOGC (@JOGC_Social) | Twitter“Chronic pelvic pain affects women across all demographics. Its management is complex and requires a multimodal approach.

Cannabis has been legal for medical purposes for many years; however, its pharmacokinetics are just beginning to be understood, as are its analgesic effects and other benefits, such as improved sleep quality and reduced nausea and vomiting.

Given the recent Canada-wide legalization of cannabis for non-medical use, patients may be more willing to disclose cannabis use and use it for pain management. Given the complexity of chronic pain management, physicians must be open to cannabis as an analgesic option.

Cannabis use may decrease the need for opioids, a phenomenon that could reduce opioid dependency. Now is the ideal time to study patients’ use of and perspectives on cannabis for pain relief in order to establish its effectiveness and safety.

Cannabis shows potential to be a key player in a multimodal approach to chronic pelvic pain.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33132057/

https://www.jogc.com/article/S1701-2163(20)30791-X/fulltext

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Medical Cannabis Treatment for Chronic Pain: Outcomes and Prediction of Response

Although studied in a few randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the efficacy of medical cannabis (MC) for chronic pain remains controversial. Using an alternative approach, this multicenter, questionnaire-based prospective cohort was aimed to assess the long-term effects of MC on chronic pain of various etiologies and to identify predictors for MC treatment success.

Results: 1045 patients completed the baseline questionnaires and initiated MC treatment, and 551 completed the 12 month follow-up. At one year, average pain intensity declined from baseline by 20% [-1.97 points (95%CI= -2.13 to -1.81; p<0.001)]. All other parameters improved by 10-30% (p<0.001). A significant decrease of 42% [reduction of 27mg; (95%CI= -34.89 to -18.56, p<0.001)] from baseline in morphine equivalent daily dosage of opioids was also observed. Reported adverse effects were common but mostly non-serious. Presence of normal to long sleep duration, lower body mass index (BMI) and lower depression score predicted relatively higher treatment success, whereas presence of neuropathic pain predicted the opposite.

Conclusions: This prospective study provides further evidence for the effects of MC on chronic pain and related symptoms, demonstrating an overall mild to modest long-term improvement of the tested measures and identifying possible predictors for treatment success.

Significance: This “real world” paper shows that MC mildly to modestly attenuates chronic pain and related symptoms. MC treatment can also cause frequent, but mostly non-serious adverse effects, although central nervous system (CNS)-related AEs that can impair the ability to drive vehicles are not uncommon. This study is novel in identifying possible predictors for treatment success, including normal to long sleep duration, lower BMI and lower depression scores. In contrast to current beliefs the diagnosis of neuropathic pain predicts a less favorable outcome. These findings provide physicians with new data to support decision making on recommendations for MC treatment.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33065768/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1675

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Cannabinoid Receptors and Their Relationship With Chronic Pain: A Narrative Review

CB1-versus-CB2-receptors “The burden of chronic pain has affected many individuals leading to distress and discomfort, alongside numerous side effects with conventional therapeutic approaches.

Cannabinoid receptors are naturally found in the human body and have long been an interest in antinociception. These include CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are promising candidates for the treatment of chronic inflammatory pain.

The mechanism of action of the receptors and how they approach pain control in inflammatory conditions show that it can be an adjunctive approach towards controlling these symptoms. Numerous studies have shown how the targeted approach towards these receptors has activated them promoting a release in cytokines, all leading to anti-inflammatory effects and immune system regulation.

Cannabinoid activation of glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) models also showed efficacy in pain management. Chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis were shown to also benefit from this considerable treatment. However, it is unclear how the cannabinoid system works in relation with the pain pathway. Therefore, in this review we aim to analyse the role of the cannabinoid system in chronic inflammatory pain.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33072446/

https://www.cureus.com/articles/39887-cannabinoid-receptors-and-their-relationship-with-chronic-pain-a-narrative-review

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The CB2 Agonist β-Caryophyllene in Male and Female Rats Exposed to a Model of Persistent Inflammatory Pain

frontiers – Page 2 – Retraction Watch “Cannabinoids help in pain treatment through their action on CB1 and CB2 receptors.

β-caryophyllene (BCP), an ancient remedy to treat pain, is a sesquiterpene found in large amounts in the essential oils of various spice and food plants such as oregano, cinnamon, and black pepper. It binds to the CB2 receptor, acting as a full agonist.

Sex differences in the BCP-induced analgesic effect were studied by exposing male and female rats to a persistent/repeated painful stimulation.

In conclusion, long-term intake of BCP appears to be able to decrease pain behaviors in a model of repeated inflammatory pain in both sexes, but to a greater degree in males.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33013287/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2020.00850/full

“β-caryophyllene (BCP) is a common constitute of the essential oils of numerous spice, food plants and major component in Cannabis.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23138934

“Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18574142

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