CBD, Turmeric and Willow: 3 Natural and Effective Painkillers

(Virgilio Marin) Painkillers are succor to people experiencing acute pain. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical painkillers cause a lot of adverse side effects that can make you feel even worse. These medications can give you constipation and nausea, and some even lead to long-term side effects, like drug addiction and kidney damage.

The post CBD, Turmeric and Willow: 3 Natural and Effective Painkillers appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

Judge Says “No” to Pharma Firms’ Request to Delay Opioid Trial

The first major trial of whether pharmaceutical companies bear responsibility for the opioid crisis is slated to start in Oklahoma on May 28.  Three major drug manufacturers and 10 of their subsidiaries tried to convince Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman to delay the jury trial for 100 days, but Balkman ruled that it will move forward as scheduled. [1]

Following a nearly 2-hour hearing in his Norman, Oklahoma, courtroom, Balkman said:

“The wheels of justice … will continue to grind toward a trial date of May 28, 2019.”

Lawyers for the companies say they will appeal the judge’s decision.

In a statement, Purdue Pharma, maker of the blockbuster drug OxyContin, said it was “disappointed the court has denied its motion for a continuance. The facts show clearly that the state of Oklahoma has repeatedly failed to meet its obligations to produce critical information and documents to Purdue and the other defendants in this case.”

Purdue accused the state’s privacy attorneys of “flagrantly” violating court orders to turn over the material, “which has unfairly prejudiced Purdue’s ability to adequately prepare our defenses.”

Read: This 1980 Letter from Researchers Helped Fuel the Opioid Epidemic

The judge further enraged the drug companies by saying he will permit cameras in the courtroom.

The trial stems from a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter against some of the largest opioid manufacturers in the nation that alleges the companies’ deceptive marketing practices over the past decade fueled the opioid epidemic in that state. Hunter claims that Purdue, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, and others deceived the public into believing that opioids were safe for extended use. [2]

In response to the defendants’ claims that state attorneys had been “stonewalling” discovery for the past year, the attorney general called the drug companies “desperate” and grasping “at whatever straws they can find.”

In a court filing, Hunter wrote:

“The State did not manufacture opioids. The State did not target veterans. The State did not target legislators. The State did not target doctors. The defendants did all that.”

Read: Study Shows How Doctors GET PAID to Fuel the Opioid Crisis

So far, 36 states have filed cases against pharmaceutical companies in state courts. The remaining 14 states are mulling bringing cases of their own. The Oklahoma case will be the first to reach trial.

In the past 3 years, 3,000 people have died of overdoses and more than 1,300 newborns have tested positive for the highly addictive painkillers in Oklahoma alone, the state attorney general’s office said.

In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sources:

[1] Washington Post

[2] CNN

Study: Dental painkillers may put young people at risk of opioid addiction

Study: States with Legal Marijuana Administer Fewer Opioid Prescriptions


Research shows that fewer opioid prescriptions are written in states that have access to legal marijuana. Could there be a connection between decreased opioid use and marijuana legalization? [1]

The report, released in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that some people turn to cannabis as a way to treat their pain, consequently avoiding more dangerous pharmaceutical drugs as a result.

Many people become addicted to opioid painkillers when they are prescribed the drugs to treat legitimate pain. The authors of the study say that people who avoid that first prescription are less likely to become addicted to opiates.

W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia, said:

“We do know that cannabis is much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency.”

He added that “certainly there’s no mortality risk.”

No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose (no one!).

Based on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s own assessment that marijuana is useful in treating various types of pain, Bradford and 3 colleagues set out to determine whether people with easy access to medical marijuana are less likely to receive prescription opioids.

The answer is, yes.

Source: CNN Money

The researchers pored over data from Medicare, which mostly covers people over the age of 65. They discovered a 14% reduction in opioid prescriptions in states that have medical marijuana laws. An estimated 3.7 million fewer daily doses of opiates are prescribed in states with medical marijuana dispensaries, the authors said.

States that allowed residents to grow their own medicinal marijuana saw an estimated 1.8 million fewer opioids dispensed each day. From 2010 to 2015, Medicare recipients received approximately 23 million daily doses of the analgesics.

During that same period, opioid use was skyrocketing, so the numbers reflect a slowing of the increase, rather than an actual decline in opioid use in these states, according to Bradford.

Some Study Limitations

The study merely shows a correlation and can’t prove that marijuana use led to a reduction in opioid prescriptions. What’s more, the authors focused on data revolving around a specific older-age group (65 and older), so that leaves out focus on similar correlations revolving around other age groups. Still, the evidence is compelling, and there’s plenty of it.

Further Evidence Shows Fewer Opioid Scripts Where Marijuana is Legal

A study published in September, 2016 showed that people were slightly less likely to test positive for opioids after a state legalized medical marijuana. Furthermore, the results of a small survey released in 2017 revealed that 63% of patients reported being able to replace their pharmaceuticals with marijuana – including opioids, sedatives, and antidepressants – when given legal access. Is the swap a perfect solution? Of course not, but it can certainly be an upgrade for many.

If cannabis wasn’t an effective pain reliever, drug companies wouldn’t be trying to harness its power or fight against legalization.

Of Course Marijuana isn’t a Perfect Solution. Duh – Downsides do Exist

That’s not to say that cannabis is a cure-all that suits everybody. In one study, Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University, found that pot users were 6 times more likely than non-users to abuse opioids. Of course this makes sense when considering the fact that those willing to use ANY drug are by default more likely to use even harder drugs than completely non-users – even if that chance is minimal for a large portion of drug users.

He said:

“A young person using marijuana is maybe putting him – or herself at increased risk. On the other hand, there may be a role – and there likely is a role – for medical marijuana in reducing the use of prescribed opioids for the management of pain.”

Marijuana can also harm the developing brains of teenagers, studies show. Deciding whom cannabis might benefit is a delicate balancing act.

Olfson said studies that follow individuals to see whether marijuana is really a suitable replacement for opiates are needed. That’s easier said than done, however, because the federal government still considers marijuana a dangerous Schedule I drug and keeps tight reins on cannabis research. [2]

Olfson said:

“That does make this a difficult area to study, and that’s unfortunate because we have a large problem with the opioid epidemic. And at the same time, with an aging population, we have lots of people who have pain conditions and who will benefit from appropriate management.”

Bradford chimed in, saying:

“In this time when we are so concerned – rightly so – about opiate misuse and abuse and the mortality that’s occurring, we need to be clear-eyed and use evidence to drive our policies.

If you’re interested in giving people options for pain management that don’t bring the particular risks that opiates do, states should contemplate turning on dispensary-based cannabis policies.” [2]

Face It – Most People Think Marijuana Should be Legalized

Most Americans are in favor of marijuana legalization in one form or another. A recent Pew survey found that 61% of Americans support full legalization. More states than not currently have cannabis laws – 8 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to use pot however they want, and more than 20 other U.S. states permit medical cannabis.

And while neither Medicare nor Medicaid reimburses patients for what they spend on medical marijuana, the amount of money spent on the drugs in legal states fell by about 8%, so the costs of both treatments might be comparable.

Bradford said:

“I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation that suggested that a daily pain management dose of hydrocodone would be about $10 out of pocket in the U.S.”

Medicare Part D would cover most of that, but a daily pain management dose of cannabis was only about $6 last year, and is likely lower now.

Sources:

[1] NPR

[2] PBS News Hour

CNN Money

Opioid Use Now Tops Tobacco Use in the U.S.

A survey released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that more people in the U.S. use opioid painkillers than tobacco, highlighting the tragic opioid crisis gripping the country. [1]

A federal review published in the spring showed that opioid prescriptions in the U.S. decreased for the 1st time in 2 decades, which suggests that doctors are finally starting to heed warnings about the drugs’ addictive properties. However, that decrease has not translated into fewer deaths. The SAMHSA report illustrates just how widespread the problem remains.

The problem is especially severe in Tennessee, where there are more opioid prescriptions written than people actually living in the state. There are 1.18 opioid prescriptions per every resident of Tennessee. More people died from overdoses in the state in 2014 than from car crashes or shootings. [2]

Source: CDC

Nationally, 37.8% of American adults are using some type of opioid painkiller, while 31.1% of U.S. adults use tobacco problems.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), more than 91.8 million Americans 18 and older used prescription painkillers last year. By comparison, 75.4 million U.S. adults used tobacco products. [1]

Those numbers creep even higher when children 12 and older are included; to 97.5 million and 78.3 million, respectively. And more than 12.5% of those users admitted to misusing the painkillers.

Danny Winder, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research in Nashville, said:

“You’d like to think that is good news and reflects a reduction of tobacco use, but unfortunately that’s not the case. It’s a particularly pernicious problem because of its prevalence…Anytime you have a substance that is legally available and has addictive properties, that’s setting up the problem.” [2]

Actually, smoking rates have declined significantly in the U.S. in the last 50 years. From 2005 to 2015, smoking among adults declined from 20.9% to, or 45.1 million, to 15.1%, or 36.5 million. In the last year alone, the overall smoking rate fell 1.7 percentage points, resulting in the lowest prevalence since the CDC began collecting data in 1965.

However, you don’t generally associate tobacco use with hard drugs, yet many people who die from heroin overdoses begin with a dependence on prescription opioids. Even in those who don’t overdose or graduate to heroin, painkiller addiction can be devastating. In 2015, approximately 40% of unemployed people in the U.S. used a prescription opioid. [2]

Another disturbing finding from the survey is that in 2014, 27.0 million people aged 12 and older had reported using an illicit drug (10.2%). This percentage in 2014 was higher than those in every year from 2002 to 2013. [1]

The 2nd most common type of illicit drug use remained nonmedical painkiller use, but the percentage of people aged 12 or older in 2014 who were current nonmedical users of pain relievers (1.6%) was lower than the percentages in most years from 2002 to 2012.

The 2014 NSDUH estimated 66.9 million people aged 12 or older were tobacco users.

Dr. Richard Soper, chief at the Center for Behavioral Wellness in Nashville, said:

“We require tobacco companies to put warning labels on tobacco products; you don’t really see that in opioid products. As long as the FDA is continuing to approve opioids, there will still be access to it. There will still be doctors writing prescriptions.” [3]

In early 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published draft guidelines outlining testing standards for generic drugs that have been produced to be harder to crush and dissolve or snort. The agency requires that generic drug makers be able to prove that their product is bioequivalent to the name brand drug. But under the new guidelines, manufacturers will also have to prove that their generic drug has the same anti-abuse properties as its name brand equivalent.

However, this is the same agency that approved OxyContin for use in children in August 2015.

Sources:

[1] Newsmax

[2] The Tennessean

[3] The Daily Caller

CDC


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