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    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Take a Toke and Call Me in the Morning: Marijuana relieves the pain of AIDS:

    AIDS patients suffering from debilitating nerve pain got as much or more relief by smoking marijuana as they would typically get from prescription drugs -- and with fewer side effects -- according to a study conducted under rigorously controlled conditions with government-grown pot.

    In a five-day study performed in a specially ventilated hospital ward where patients smoked three marijuana cigarettes a day, more than half the participants tallied significant reductions in pain.

    By contrast, less than one-quarter of those who smoked "placebo" pot, which had its primary psychoactive ingredients removed, reported benefits, as measured by subjective pain reports and standardized neurological tests.

    ...The new study enrolled 50 AIDS patients with severe foot pain caused by their disease or by the medicines they take.

    The team first measured baseline pain, both subjectively (patients ranked their pain on a scale of 1 to 100) and with two standardized tests, one involving a small hot iron held to the skin and another involving hot chili pepper cream.

    Then, for five days, patients lit up at 8 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. using a calibrated puff method that calls for inhaling for five seconds, holding one's breath for 10, then waiting 45 seconds before the next.

    ...Thirteen of 25 patients who smoked the regular marijuana achieved pain reduction of at least 30 percent, compared with six of 25 who smoked placebo pot. The average pain reduction for the real cannabis was 34 percent, compared with 17 percent for the placebo.

    Opioids and other pills can reduce nerve pain by 20 to 30 percent but can cause drowsiness and confusion, Abrams said.

    And smoking marijuana doesn't cause drowsiness and confusion? Isn't that the state we call "stoned"? I would wager that if the same experiment were done with three shots of whiskey a day, you'd see similar results. Anything that makes you feel good is going to relieve pain.

    UPDATE: From a reader who had difficulty posting a comment (I, too, have difficulty sometimes when I use my older computer with an older version of InternetExploer):

    I think you are letting your prejudices run to excess. HIV related neuropathy is a difficult disease to treat, and use of marijuana would be a significant improvement.

    a)The primary treatment at the moment is opioids for severe cases. Compared to those, marijuana causes immensely less drowsiness and confusion. Their does was three cigarettes per day, which will not result in substantial impairment. It might be measureable, but is a lot less than the opioid doses. If you can switch from strong narcotics to marijuana with an improvement in pain reduction, that seems like a no brainer to me. If these results prove out in larger trials it's a real improvement.

    b) Alcohol is contra-indicated. It usually significantly worsens neuropathy. The minor painkilling effect of alcohol is insignificant when dealing with paid that is reduced only by high doses of narcotics. The neuropathic worsening induced by alchohol does further damage.

    Perhaps it is not my prejudice, but lack of experience. I've never smoked marijuana (a fact my brother-in-law finds laughable), so I don't know what dose it takes to make someone stoned. I suspect for me it would be one.

    posted by Sydney on 2/13/2007 06:50:00 AM 0 comments


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