Marijuana and Meralgia:
A new survey of 219 PatientsLikeMe members has found that patients with certain conditions who use medical marijuana believe it is the best available treatment for them, with fewer side effects than other options and few risks. The survey, conducted in June 2015, is among the first to gauge patient perceptions about the benefits and risks of medical marijuana and their level of willingness to recommend its use.
PatientsLikeMe’s Vice President for Advocacy, Policy, and Patient Safety, Sally Okun, RN said that while the number of respondents and conditions represented is limited, the survey and its results come at an important time. “As more people consider using medical marijuana, and more states legalize it, patients need to know what others are experiencing. This survey starts to gather real world data about marijuana as medicine—information that may be useful for patients and their physicians as they explore options and make treatment decisions.”
Half of the survey respondents started using medical marijuana in the last five years, while 25% started to do so in the last two years. Smoking (71%), edibles (55%), and vaporizing (49%) were the most commonly used methods for taking the treatment. The top three conditions represented were multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and depression. Key findings are as follows:
Usage and Perceived Side Effects
- About three quarters (74%) of survey respondents agree that medical marijuana is the best treatment available for their health issue. Another 20% are unsure if there is another option available.
- 76% report that they use medical marijuana because other treatments weren’t working and/or caused too many side effects. About 21% use it to avoid the side effects of other treatments.
- When asked about the severity of side effects from using marijuana, 86% of PatientsLikeMe members who report using marijuana indicate the side effects are either “none” or “mild.” The same group says those side effects include dry mouth, increased appetite, and sleepiness.
Perceived Benefits and Risks
- Survey respondents use medical marijuana for more than one reason, including to treat pain (75%), muscle stiffness or spasms (69%), insomnia (67%) and anxiety (55%). The majority (63%) considered marijuana as a treatment option because they think it is more natural.
- Most (93%) say that they would recommend medical marijuana to another patient.
- About 61% say their healthcare provider is supportive of their medical marijuana use, and 60% have a letter of recommendation or prescription.
- Most patients report a low level of concern (“Not at all” or “A little”) with long-term health risks, such as developing lung cancer (89%), long-term lung damage (86%), or becoming addicted/dependent (96%).
- One in four patients (26%) report being “Somewhat” or “Very” concerned with legal problems.
Can Medical Marijuana Treat Meralgia Paresthetica?
I’d suffered from meralgia paresthetica pain for a year before visiting a friend in California who suggested medical marijuana. He said marijuana has two potentially helpful actions: it’s an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory. I knew that marijuana is non-toxic and…this was California – so what could go wrong? My friend baked up a batch of brownies (he’s against smoking of any kind and says that you need to ingest all the parts of the plant to get the full benefits) and gave me half of his ‘standard’ brownie. Within 30 minutes I’d not only lost track of time, I’d also lost consciousness of my chronic pain. Eureka! At last I’d found a natural alternative to my favorite pharmaceutical, gabapentin. (I also understood why pharmaceutical companies fight so hard to ban marijuana!).
Marijuana’s action as an analgesic (pain killer) removed my pain symptoms while its anti-inflammatory action soothed my inflamed lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (or LFCN: the nerve that, when compressed and irritated, gives rise to meralgia symptoms).
Since that happy day I’ve been able to give up pharmaceuticals completely. Better yet, I’ve been able to begin the exercise routine in the book: I feel so relaxed when I stretch that I sometimes hold the posture just for the pleasure of it.
Here’s Dr. D.I. Abrams talking about his research with marijuana and neuropathy (nerve pain):
Worth Reading: In the video above, Dr Abrams talks about publishing his research. Here’s the research in published form: Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy A randomized placebo-controlled trial.