Medical Marijuana May Be An Alternative Option For Controlling Pain

Medical Marijuana May Be An Alternative Option For Controlling Pain

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HOUGHTON – For patients with chronic conditions, ongoing disease management is an important part of maintaining health and controlling negative side effects of a disease. Disease management can include diet, exercise, medication and, for some patients, medical marijuana.

“It has a lot of components that are good for pain,” said Dr. Robert Townsend, an osteopathic physician with over 20 years experience. “For patients with chronic pain it can be a substitute for narcotics or used to reduce narcotics in pain management. I found that patients using medical marijuana required less narcotics than those who were not.”

Townsend, who has never personally used marijuana, began working with it as a way of reducing narcotic dependency while managing chronic pain. He found that patients who incorporated medical marijuana into their disease management were able to manage symptoms while eliminating or severely reducing the use of addictive narcotics.

Different strains of medical marijuana are shown at Northern Specialty Health in Houghton. Northern Specialty Health works with many different strains of medical marijuana with both indica and sativa characteristics.

Based on Michigan Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2008, patients deemed eligible for medical marijuana must have been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. Specific conditions listed in the act include cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, ALS, Chrohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s and nail patella. Patients whose chronic illnesses or the treatment of those illnesses result in certain side effects such as severe pain, nausea and seizures are also eligible to apply for a medical marijuana card. According to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, as of May 31 there are 128,441 active registered qualified medical marijuana patients.

“I use it a lot with patients with Crohn’s disease. I have never seen healthier Crohn’s patients than when they are using medical marijuana,” said Townsend. “It gets people off handfuls of Vicodin and other painkillers. I’ve seen it stop seizures in front of me. It’s very impressive stuff. It can also be used to treat glaucoma and nausea resulting from chemotherapy and other drugs. It can help patients tolerate anxiety medications better because the associated nausea is reduced so they’re able to keep taking those anxiety meds comfortably.”

There are two categories of medical marijuana – cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. Within these categories are various of strains of marijuana, each which can produce different results.

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