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New cannabis pill could replace dangerously addictive opiates

More evidence that marijuana compounds have an important role in medicine.

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

A pill containing the cannabis extract CBD could replace opiates in providing pain relief after surgery, according to new research.

CBD (Cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana that has health benefits.


The tablet helped patients recover from shoulder operations - with no side effects.

Results presented at an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' meeting in Chicago could lead to new drugs.

They add to evidence the plant's compounds have an important role to play in medicine.

The US team have now launched a second study looking at whether it can specifically treat chronic pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

Multiple Phase 2 studies are also planned to evaluate efficacy for other acute and chronic pain management issues and assess the role of CBD on inflammation.

Lead author Professor Michael Alaia, of New York University, said: "There is an urgent need for viable alternatives for pain management.

"Our study presents this form of CBD as a promising tool after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair."

Scientists wear hand gloves to examine cannabis trees Alternative medicine concepts, cbd, pharmaceutical industry
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 37 states in America. (Blue Titan/Shutterstock)

The rotator cuff is found at the top of the shoulder blade and is formed from the muscle and tendon used to attach the arm to the shoulder.

Tears can lead to pain and loss of movement in the shoulder.

The operation is performed under a general anesthetic and takes about an hour.

Thick and tight tissue is removed, with the bone being shaven in many cases. Rehabilitation can be anything up to a year.

In the US, opioid overdoses have caused more than 500,000 deaths over the past two decades alone - outstripping AIDS.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 37 US states.

Prof Alaia said: "It could be a new, inexpensive approach for delivering pain relief, and without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs and addiction risks linked to opiates.

"CBD has the benefit of pain relief without the psychotropic effects associated with THC or marijuana.”

THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that gives users a high.

The pill, named ORAVEXXTM, safely managed pain after surgery.

It did not cause nausea, anxiety or liver toxicity which have been linked to CBD in the past.

The clinical trial recruited 99 patients aged 18 to 75.

They were selected at random to receive the tablet or a placebo three times a day for 14 days.

The first day following surgery, patients receiving CBD scored an average 23 percent less on a scale that measured pain levels.

It may render significant benefit for those with moderate pain, said Prof Alaia.

On both the first and second days, they reported 22 to 25 percent greater satisfaction with pain control compared to those getting the placebo.

Further analysis also showed patients receiving 50 mg of CBD reported lower pain and higher satisfaction.

Prof Alaia described the results as "promising." But he cautioned patients against seeking out commercialised CBD products.

He said: "Our study is examining a well-designed, carefully scrutinised product under an investigational new drug application sanctioned by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

"This is currently still experimental medicine and is not yet available for prescription."

ORAVEXX is manufactured by Orcosa Inc., a life sciences company. It is a non-addictive, fast-absorbing CBD composition designed to treat pain.

Added Prof Alaia: "Surgeons have long sought alternatives to opiates in post-operative pain management.

"This is random, placebo-controlled study of a novel drug shows promise in CBD for that application."

Opioids work by blocking the transmission of pain messages in the brain, spinal cord, digestive system and other parts of the body.

They can be naturally derived - made from the poppy plant, as with morphine and codeine - or synthesised in a laboratory.

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