Cannabis and related drugs
The cannabis plant, Cannabis Sativa has been cultivated for millennia for use in Medicine, and in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in its use.
Recent studies have looked into the use of extracts of cannabis for treatment of various conditions, particularly multiple sclerosis.
Cannabis contains a large number of chemicals, called cannabinoids, a number of which have actions in the body. The principal one of these is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It is this chemical which has been the focus of much recent research. However, many of the other components of Cannabis may also have effects.
In the body, we have a number of receptors at which cannabinoids can work. These are acted on by a chemical, called Anandamide, which is present in our nervous system and which results in various effects.
It is important to note, though, that while some patients do find cannabis can help some pains, the use of this drug does carry considerable risks: smoking it is more carcinogenic and harmful than tobacco, and in addition it may have serious and long-lasting psychiatric side-effects which may not be reversible on stopping using the drug. It is, of course, a controlled drug whose use is not legal.
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Pain Service Website, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Webmaster Dr J G de Courcy, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia
Page updated 19/02/2016