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cbd oil spinal cord injury

Several studies involving people with a variety of diagnoses have had promising results.1-3 A 2011 systematic review of 18 randomized clinical trials of cannabinoids for non-cancer pain found significant analgesic effects with no serious adverse effects.4

When it is smoked, cannabis compounds pass rapidly from the lungs to the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs. Vaporized cannabis produces the same effects without the smoke. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

“I first stumbled onto medical cannabis 20 years ago when an ALS patient told me she was using it for pain and spasticity,” Carter recalled. “When medical marijuana became legal in Washington State, I began prescribing it.”

Benefits of Medical Cannabis

Marijuana (cannabis) is much in the news today. Medical marijuana, although still illegal under federal law, has been legal in several states for some time, and state laws about recreational marijuana are changing. As marijuana becomes more available, people interested in medical marijuana want information about what it is, what it’s good for, and how to use it.

“We now understand a great deal about how cannabis works in the body,” Carter said. The cannabinoids activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system. Pain is reduced when cannabis receptors are activated in the nervous system pathways that regulate pain perception.

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Because cannabis is a schedule 1 drug, it has been difficult to get funding to conduct research on its medical use. In spite of this hurdle, “we now know on the basis of science and clinical trials that cannabis and cannabinoids work very well for neuropathic pain and spasticity,” Carter said.

Reference has been made to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Report, January 2017 [3]. I encourage all to read this well considered document which highlights the level of evidence for the use of cannabis in the management of a number of symptom complexes; many of which are often observed in SCI persons.

Graves DE. Cannabis shenanigans: advocating for the restoration of an effective treatment of pain following spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord Ser and Cases. 2018.

As health practitioners, we do remain polarized, preferring to interpret the data according to our bias. The data sadly is often not robust because of the difficulty of conducting reputable randomized research in patients with symptom complexes that are challenging to measure precisely.


Berliner J, Collins K, Coker J. Cannabis conundrum. Spinal Cord Ser and Cases. 2018.

Berliner states that “it is a highly heterogenetic compound” and hence “with the lack of standardization and reproducibility of these (products), it is impossible to generalize study outcomes to the products available to marijuana users.”

We are provided with two diametrically opposed viewpoints on the medicinal use of cannabis [1, 2]. Such is the polarizing effect this subject has on practitioners in general.

The two authors discuss its use in pain of SCI origin and Berliner notes limited efficacy in spasticity. Neither mentions other possible uses.