CANNAHEALTH The Opioid Epidemic - Page 12

Unfortunately, I have been on both sides and it's the sad truth. Chronic intractable pain, makes my patients very fragile, although they are the strongest individuals I have ever treated, and now we know why. Recent studies demonstrate that chronic pain causes genetic changes in brain cells, from inflammation causing depression and anxiety. In my practice, at least 50 % of my patients are dealing with some form of depression and/or anxiety. Furthermore, they are fearful of future pain crises so they often become withdrawn and to themselves at a time when they need all the support they can get. Can you blame them? Even health professionals poorly understand the difference between opioid dependency and opioid addiction.

Medical cannabis has been available in Georgia, under Haleigh's Hope Act, since April 16, 2015. Medical marijuana has been shown to act as a vasodilator, which could in itself assist in easing the blockages caused by the build-up of sickle cells. In 2010, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that the synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) analogue CP 55, 940 was as effective as morhine sulfate in treating SCD related severe pain in transgenic mice expressing human sickle hemoglobin and it was effective at smaller doses than opioids. Cannabis also provides neuroprotective effects that may reduce the incidence of retinopathy and neuropathy. The combined analgesic and anti-inflammatory components of cannabis makes it a great natural alternative or complementary treatment for pain associated with SCD. At Premier Chronic Pain Care, we evaluate and make recommendations for medical marijuana for the state of Georgia. As medical director, I can proudly say that our clinic is a place where empathy and sympathy collide so communication and healing can begin. Medical marijuana can effectively manage many other symptoms and ailments with zero documented deaths. If you are starting to think that it can help you, I know it will.

Rasean Hodge, MD