Smoking the pain away

Marijuana is said to be a natural painkiller. With the recent legalisation of marijuana for medical use in South Africa, we set out to learn the truth, the benefits and the perils for people with SCI. Rolling Inspiration reports.

Advocates promoting the medicinal qualities of cannabis or marijuana (informally known as dagga or weed) believe that it could provide a natural, less harmful alternative to potentially addictive opioid painkillers.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, more than 120 phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant) have been isolated from cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is responsible for the psychoactive constituents of paranoia and hallucinations that some people experience while under the influence of marijuana. CBD, considered by many to be one of the most medically beneficial chemical compounds found in cannabis, has a calming effect on the user and relieves pain.

Researchers by numerous organisations suggest that cannabis may provide relief for a variety of ailments, including neuropathy, muscle spasticity, nerve pain and inflammation.

Organisations such as the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa (CDCSA) hope that clarification regarding the legal use of cannabis will encourage more people to consider natural alternatives to what it calls “toxic medication”. Addiction to traditional painkillers is common.

“In therapeutic doses, the side effects of medical marijuana are limited. We are using this time to showcase how people can be treated with an equally effective natural remedy and free themselves from negative side effects. We want people to get up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to take on the day,” says Krithi Thaver, founder of Canna Culture and chair of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the CDCSA.

He suggests that people who want to try medical marijuana consult a doctor to ensure that the appropriate product is prescribed and that there are no contra-indications or interactions with any other medication.

South African law makes provision for traditional healers to cultivate and prescribe cannabis-based medicine to patients. This is what initiated the relationship between Canna Culture and traditional healers.

Thaver points out: “It is important to note that these are not witch doctors, but healers experienced in plant-based medicine. We have become part of the growing process and help them select and produce cannabis that offers a full spectrum of compounds to treat a wide variety of ailments.

“After cultivation and further processing into oils, and other products, samples are sent to Pretoria for testing and assured fit for human consumption.”

Very little research has been conducted into the long-term effects of marijuana on an individual, and anyone considering its use for medical purposes should consult medical professionals and buy the substance from a reputable source.

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