As of June, 29 states (and Washington D.C) have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures(NCSL). That means millions of people suffering from chronic pain have access to a new way to relieve their suffering.
Some studies have already shown that inhaling marijuana can relieve chronic nerve pain. One study revealed that the pain symptoms dropped slightly when participants inhaled a marijuana vapor three times per day, according to WebMD.
This study showed that the actual pain relief was only marginally better than those who took a placebo, and some participants experienced a headache, dry eyes, numbness and a cough.
Medical marijuana is available in several forms including capsules and oils. Doctors prescribe the medication for cancer patients (to ease nausea), anxiety, insomnia, arthritis, migraines, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy, among others.
According to How Stuff Works, cannabis is useful because cannabinoids in the marijuana bind to endocannabinoids the body naturally produces. This creates reactions in the body that help block pain receptors (and creates a high feeling).
One problem doctors are running into is that when patients take Cannabis in capsule form, the body metabolizes 90% of the medication in the liver before it can reach other areas of the body. Gum could make it easier to distribute the pain-relieving properties without mind-altering side effects, according to Herb.
Cannabis gum could deliver lower doses of the cannabis to patients. This would allow patients to get the pain relief with fewer side effects, according to Herb.
This form of dispersing the medication is still new, but there are already some possible drawbacks.
A study published in a 2008 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association, showed a link between people who smoked marijuana and patients with gum disease. The study showed that individuals who regularly smoked marijuana were 60% more likely to have gum disease, according to WebMD. It’s unclear what effect chewing it would have on gums and teeth.
Cannabis gum is already for sale in some markets, but it’s unclear how effective the treatment is yet.