Cannabinoid Alternative to Pharmaceutical NSAIDs?

NSAID use Rising

When battling chronic inflammation and pain many adults turn to the use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as they are promoted as the “safe way to offset inflammation”. However, this idea has been misconstrued in a manner that has lead the general public to feel comfortable using these large quantities of this drugs for prolonged periods of time. However, this prolonged use comes with deathly side effects. As far back as 1998, the American Journal of Medicines began collecting data. “Conservative calculations estimate that approximately 107,000 patients become hospitalized annually for NSAID related Gastrointestinal complications. At least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone. The figures of all NSAID users would be overwhelming, yet the scope of the problem is generally under-appreciated”. Twenty years later, we are beginning to see the full spectrum of this problem. More NSAID related hospitalizations and deaths take place each year.

New Labels Warn: Severe Side Effects

With the rise of recommendation and prescription of these NSAIDs, medical professionals are seeing a rise in conditions such as Gastrointestinal bleeding linked to use of these drugs. In 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a public safety announcement wherein they strengthened an existing label warning that NSAIDs increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. The label now warns that those risks may occur as early as the first weeks of using an NSAID.

Other side effects listed include, stomach pains and ulcers, heartburn, heavy bleeding, headaches, dizziness, liver or kidney failure, and swelling of limbs.  However, even with these existing warnings, these drugs remain a recommendation for chronic conditions such as Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Fibromyalgia among others. These chronic conditions become merely pacified by an NSAID type of drug. Considering possible side effects as well as heightened effects with prolonged use, many individuals question why any medical professional would recommend this route for such conditions.

The Search for Alternatives

Consequently, alternative methods of relieving inflammation are being studied in hopes of providing safe effective relief. The Endocannabinoid System has been shown to play a crucial role in inflammatory responses. Widespread in tissues and cells, this system plays a role in homeostasis (the balance each body needs to be well). After any disruption of that balance, it activates and regulates the levels and actions of other chemical signals.

Your Endocannabinoid System regulates a variety of physiological and cognitive processes including fertility, pregnancy, appetite, and pain-sensation. The ECS comes equipped with Cannabinoid Receptors. CB1 receptors are more widespread in the body. The Central Nervous System, Spinal Cord, and Peripheral Nervous System contain these receptors. The functions of these receptors interact in cooperation to show greater effects. CB2 Receptors exist confined to the Lymphatic and Immune Tissues. However, these receptors can be responsible for mediating or even suppressing pain and inflammatory processes.

Fortunately, Cannabinoids offer promising results in studies and models of inflammatory responses. Cannabinoids such as Cannabidiol and Cannabinol have shown antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on immune cells amongst other properties. Currently, medical patents for the use of Cannabinoids as therapeutic agents for chronic inflammatory and pain conditions exist; issued to several pharmaceutical companies. For example, a patent to GWPharmaceuticals outlining CBD anti-inflammatory use. The missing link to relief from chronic pain and inflammatory conditions lies in clinical trials. Without enough research, sufferers and medical professionals alike remain under-informed about the possibilities of Cannabinoid treatments. In order for patients to receive their best possible care, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must acknowledge the necessity for proper testing.