Smoking MJ Reduces Intense Pain in HIV Patients

Smoking MJ Reduces Intense Pain in HIV Patients
Posted by CN Staff on February 12, 2007 at 15:10:12 PT
By Rebecca Vesely, Staff Writer
Source: Daily Review
California -- HIV patients who smoked three joints of marijuana per day for five days experienced relief from chronic foot pain associated with the disease, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco reported Monday in a rare U.S.-funded study on medical marijuana. "These results provide evidence that there is a measurable medical benefit to smoking cannabis for these patients," said study lead author Dr. Donald Abrams, UCSF professor of clinical medicine.
The study involved 50 HIV patients with sensory neuropathy, a peripheral nerve disorder that causes intense, sharp pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. The condition affects about one in three HIV patients. Patients assigned to smoke cannabis experienced a 34 percent reduction in intense foot pain -- twice the rate experienced by patients who smoked a placebo. The first cannabis cigarette patients smoked reduced chronic pain by a median of 72 percent compared to 15 percent for patients who smoked the placebo, according to the study, published in the journal Neurology. Half the patients were assigned randomly to smoke cannabis while the remaining 25 patients smoked a placebo. They had to be off any medication to treat neuropathy, including private-use marijuana. The patients were required to have some prior experience smoking the drug but could not have substance abuse problems. The patients were sequestered at San Francisco General Hospital for seven days, where they underwent frequent testing. Over five consecutive days, they smoked cannabis or a placebo three times per day in rolled cigarettes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse provided the identical machine-rolled marijuana cigarettes. Diana Dodson, 50, of Santa Cruz was among the 25 patients who received cannabis. She contracted HIV after receiving tainted blood product in 1985 and has been living with AIDS for 10 years. Dodson, who smokes marijuana on her own to control her pain and nausea associated with AIDS, said the drug has been a life-saver. "I really attribute cannabis to why I am still alive today," she said. Her neuropathy symptoms include an extreme burning on the soles of her feet. "It's like an electrical poker going through me," she said. "I'll scream in the kitchen. Sometimes it's like a jabbing ice-pick pain."Just a few puffs gives her relief for two hours without the grogginess associated with taking opiates such as morphine, she said. The UCSF study indicated that pain relief from cannabis was on par with that from morphine. The quality of the marijuana used in the trial wasn't as good as what Dobson gets on her own, she said, but she still felt relief from pain. "It gives me a quality of life I wouldn't otherwise have," she said. By contrast, previous studies of marinol -- the FDA-approved drug containing a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis -- showed little promise in relief for HIV-associated neuropathy. "There are other compounds in smoked marijuana besides THC," said UCSF study co-author Dr. Cheryl A. Jay, a professor of clinical neurology. "That's one of several explainations why our study had a positive result while previous marinol studies did not."David Murray, chief scientist at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said people who smoke marijuana are subject to bacterial infections. He added that the study, considering its small size is "not a convincing demonstration."Treatment for HIV-related neuropathy includes antidepressants and seizure drugs, but these medications don't always work and some patients cannot tolerate them. Opiates such as morphine are also sometimes used. There are no drugs approved by the FDA specifically for the condition. The study is the first of several clinical trials of medical cannabis being conducted through the University of California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, based at UC San Diego. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Igor Grant, director of the cannabis research center at UCSD, said the findings in this study suggest that cannabis "may be useful" in treating HIV-associated neuropathy. He noted that it has been many years since clinical trials of cannabis have been conducted in the United States. "As a result, there has been insufficient light shed on the possible therapeutic value of cannabis," Grant said. A 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana and found that though it is a powerful drug, it is safe and should not be excluded from some medical uses. Studies have indicated that cannabiniod drugs could help with pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting and appetite stimulation, according to the IOM report. Americans for Safe Access and the National Association of People with AIDS on Tuesday plan to call for congressional hearings to implement the IOM report findings, which include further scientific studies of cannabis. "Bolstered by the preliminary findings in the Abrams (UCSF) study, we will go to Congress and familiarize them with the IOM report so we can move forward with the research," said Dr. Barbara T. Roberts, director of medical and scientific affairs at Americans for Safe Access.The Associated Press contributed to this report. Source: Daily Review, The (Hayward, CA)Author: Rebecca Vesely, Staff WriterPublished: February 12, 2007Copyright: 2007 ANG NewspapersContact: For Safe Access Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #3 posted by Toker00 on February 13, 2007 at 03:35:50 PT
Paul No. 2 - No way. You can't smoke medicine!
Just ask Johnny Pee and the DEA. They'll lie to you about it every time.Looks like we may soon have our medicine and smoke it too. Icing on the cake of failed Cannabis Prohibition.I wish they had used a vaporizer in this study, though. Next time they should have one group smoke joints and the other group vape. It will probably turn out to be the safest, most effective medicine known to man.Oh yeah. It already is!Toke. 
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Comment #2 posted by paul armentano on February 12, 2007 at 15:28:51 PT
Read more about this historic study at or listen to today's Daily AudioStash at:,
PaulInhaled Cannabis Significantly Reduces HIV-Associated NeuropathySan Francisco, CA: Cannabis significantly reduces HIV-associated neuropathic pain compared to placebo, and possesses an acceptable margin of safety for use, according to clinical trial data to be published in the journal Neurology. 
Investigators at San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California’s Pain Clinical Research Center assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis on HIV-associated sensory neuropathy in 50 volunteers participating in a five-day double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Researchers reported that smoking low-grade cannabis (3.56 percent THC) three times daily reduced patients’ pain by 34 percent.
“Thirteen of 25 patients randomized to cannabis cigarettes had >30 percent reduction in pain from baseline to end of treatment versus 6 of 25 patients receiving placebo cigarettes,” authors wrote. A 30 percent reduction in pain is considered to be a clinically significant amount of pain relief.Investigators added: “Smoking the first cannabis cigarette reduced chronic pain ratings by a median of 72 percent versus a reduction of 15 percent with placebo [zero THC] cigarettes. On day five, just prior to smoking the last cigarette, median ratings of current chronic pain intensity were lower in the cannabis group than in the placebo group. Smoking the last cigarette further reduced chronic pain ratings 51 percent in the cannabis group versus five percent in the placebo group.”They concluded: “Smoked cannabis was well tolerated and effectively relieved chronic neuropathic pain from HIV-associated neuropathy [in a manner] similar to oral drugs used for chronic neuropathic pain.”The lead investigator of the study, Donald Abrams of San Francisco General Hospital, initially sought federal approval to assess the potential medical efficacy of cannabis in HIV patients in 1994, but was repeatedly denied access to the US government’s supply of research-grade marijuana. Today’s study is one of the first US-led clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of smoked cannabis to take place in nearly two decades.The University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research sponsored the trial.Previous clinical trials assessing the use of cannabinoids as analgesics have demonstrated that they can significantly reduce the neuropathy associated with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. 
Neuropathic pain affects an estimated one percent of the world's population and is typically unresponsive to both opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500, or California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer at (415) 563-5858. Full text of the study, “Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy,” appears in the forthcoming issue of Neurology. Additional information about the study is available at: and on today’s edition of NORML’s daily AudioStash at:
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Comment #1 posted by Toker00 on February 12, 2007 at 15:16:21 PT
OT: Bring The Troops Home Now!
HOMEHere are three toll-free numbers you can use to call your own members 
of the U.S. Senate right now, 800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 
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to actually derail the Bush/Cheney military disaster machine. But you 
can say exactly that when you call and write your House members this 
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such cowardice when they had their chance.ACTION PAGE: have all week to lean on them with our voices leading up to a vote 
at the end of the week, and there are already indications that the 
Republicans are finally caving in to the will and sanity of the American 
people. So let's rally our friends and neighbors to call the toll free 
numbers and submit the easy one click action pages so no member of the 
House can pretend they did not hear from us in sufficient numbers.To put the car in reverse, first you have to put on the brakes and stop 
it. And after we do, we will press even harder to get them to start 
bringing our troops home.THE UPCOMING ACTIVIST RADIO PROJECTWe also have some news about an exciting new project, Activist Radio. 
How would you like to have your own radio show? Many of you will 
remember the Desktop Action software we debuted last year, allowing you to 
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desktop. We are in the final stages of a major upgrade to this program 
including a potentially unlimited selection of audio transmission channels.As we are finishing up the coding of the new interface we would like to 
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at by The People's Email Network
Copyright 2006, Patent pending, All rights reserved
May be reproduced for activist purposesToke.
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