Cannabis / Marijuana against rheumatic pain 3.61/5 (23)

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The cannabis plant (Cannabis) is used to produce several products. Cannabis / marijuana / cannabinoids (English: marijuana) are usually dried leaves of top shoots and flowers, stems or seeds. Hashish is a further processed product where the plant sap or resin is pressed into plates or lumps together with parts of the plant material. "Beans" (from the bean plant) is a slang word for hashish, while "weed" is a slang word for marijuana.

Cannabis has become legal in several states in the United States and some other countries. For medical use, seriously ill people can receive cannabis as an analgesic treatment in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Canada, partly with expenses covered. Some patients therefore want more information about the advantages and disadvantages of cannabis, marijuana and hashish.

Medical use of cannabis / marijuana

  • Cancer pain and neurological pain can be treated with cannabis and examined
    • Several studies show efficacy against pain (Reference: Abrams DI, 2015)
    • Severe diseased also benefit from the mood-lifting effect
  • Effect also on large muscle tension (spasticity) at Multiple sclerosis (MS) has been proven
    • Sativex (CD prescription agonist) can be used in Norway. The indication is multiple sclerosis and prescriptions for H prescriptions from hospitals.
      • Fatigue is the most common side effect
    • Epidiolex is not in use in Norway, but in the United States approved for epileptic seizures by Lennox-Gastauts syndrome og Dravens syndrome
    • Marinol is not used in Norway, but in the US for loss of appetite due to AIDS, nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy
  • Cannabis is for decades, partly illegal, used medically used for pain and tension for less serious cause
    • Studies indicate that rheumatic pain is one of the most common indications when cannabis is used for disease
    • A randomized study among 58 patients with Rheumatoid arthritis / arthritis (RA) showed improvement in pain in the morning, during physical activity and at rest. Sleep was also improved (reference: Blake DR, 2006)
    • Two studies of Fibromyalgia -patients tested synthetic forms of cannabis (nabilone, tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC)). Patients with fibromyalgia labeled effect on pain, (Reference: Skrabek RQ, 2008). The effect on sleep problems was comparable to amitriptyline (Sarotex) (reference: True MA, 2010)
    • European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) concludes that cannabis and cannabinoids have the following effect:
      • Chronic non-cancer pain and neuropathic pain: Moderate effect
      • Multiple sclerosis (MS): Moderate effect
      • Nausea: Slight effect
      • Vomiting during chemotherapy for cancer: Weak effect
  • Marjuana for medical use

    The marijuana plant is the starting point for the production of cannabis. Illustration: Pxhere, CC0

In Norway, you can apply for coverage from Helfo (NAV) of expenses for Sativex on a «blue prescription». If the indication is rheumatic disease, however, one must expect a rejection.

Problems with using cannabis / marijuana

However, there are many problems with using cannabis as treatment:

  • Most reports are not scientifically based so that the pros and cons are not systematically investigated
  • A major problem is that the potency of the active ingredient in the cannabis plant, tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC), varies as much as between 1% and 30% between the various products. Measurements in the blood after inhalation of what was thought to be the same dose have shown values ​​between 7 ng / ml and 100 ng / ml which indicate erratic variations. In Germany, the authorities have planned to start their own production to control the quality of cannabis
  • Rheumatic pain is often chronic. Treatment may therefore be applicable over many years, with associated risk of side effects over time
  • Among side effects are cognitive problems (reduced concentration, attention and memory) and reduced psychomotor function (responsiveness). The side effects last for several hours and affect, among other things, the ability to drive
  • A rare side effect is reduced blood circulation to the hands or feet so that necrosis (dead tissue) occurs. Several possible causes
    • Direct toxic effect on blood vessels
    • Reinforcing effect of tobacco / nicotine
    • Contraction of blood vessels (Peripheral vasospasm)
    • Reference: Omri NE, 2017
  • Cannabis causes a brief onset of intoxication due to increased dopamine in the brain. However, at regular use, the dopamine level drops to low levels. Prolonged cannabis use is therefore associated with mood swings, decreased performance and risk of depression
  • There is a risk of addiction
    • One in six young people who are users become addicted, reports the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • A Swedish study suggests increased the risk of lung cancer
  • Cannabis is not allowed in Norway

Marijuana in Pregnancy

  • The use of marijuana / cannabis to relieve pregnancy-related ailments has increased in the United States, especially among unmarried people. Research suggests that marijuana in pregnancy can harm the fetus.


  • Not surprisingly, most rheumatologists conclude that the disadvantages are greater than the benefits of using cannabis against rheumatic diseases.
  • It is encouraged to conduct several scientific studies to better elucidate the usefulness of rheumatic diseases



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