Canadian CANNAINVESTOR Magazine July / August 2017 - Page 212

Although subject to debate, research indicates that cannabis was first allegedly used for medicinal purposes in India, and was commonly used to relieve muscle spasms, pain, diarrhea, fevers, lack of appetite, sleep insomnia and anxiety (Kalant & Porath-Waller, 2012). Thereafter, cannabinoids were sent to North America to be tested. Testing positive for effectivity, cannabinoids began to be used for medicinal purposes in Canada (Kalant & Porath-Waller, 2012). In the 20th century, its medical use decreased in Canada due to the limited shelf-life and variable composition of the extracts (Kalant & Porath-Waller, 2012). Thus, cannabinoids were largely replaced by synthetic opiates. However, research has consistently found that smaller doses of THC (10-20mg) are equally as effective for pain reduction as stronger opioids such as codeine (60-120mg) (Kalant & Porath-Waller, 2012). Current research holds that the side effects of opiates may be harsher to the body than cannabinoids when used for severe pain relief (Kalant & Porath-Waller, 2012). Although, it is important to note that more research has been conducted on opiates than cannabinoids, potentially influencing the greater amount of side effects found for opiates. Cannabinoids are also increasingly used for end of life treatment in patients with chronic pain (Green & De-Vries, 2010). Since strong opiates can be especially problematic for elderly patients; having weaker organs and immune systems, cannabinoids may be a successful substitute (Green & De Vries, 2010). Looking at cannabinoids alone, they are typically most effective for severe pain opposed to acute pain, which is why they are fundamentally prescribed for more serious and chronic conditions, such as neurological damage. Various cannabinoids have also demonstrated the ability to decrease and prevent the growth of cancer cells (Kalant & Porath-Walter, 2012). However, overuse and abuse of cannabis may result in emotional and psychological complications (Kalant & Porath-Waller, 2012). Thus, it important to monitor the patients’ use of cannabinoids to ensure they are receiving an optimal dosage. My research and volunteering resides largely in the realms of stroke-induced speech difficulties in adults, usually resulting from the illness of aphasia (loss of language comprehension and/or articulation abilities). Pain is often experienced following strokes, however, individuals with non-fluent aphasias are often unable to articulate their pain (De-Vries, Sloot, &Achterberg, 2016). Cannabinoids may prove importance to individuals with stroke-induced speech difficulties by decreasing the pain experienced. However, depending on the degree of pain experienced, it is unclear if opiates or cannabinoids would be of a greater asset to these individuals.

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