04 May 2004

Mary Jane's palliative care

IASP Newsletter Technical Corner: Basic Mechanisms of Cannabinoid-Induced Analgesia

The paper's really technical, but if I read it right, this conclusion is pretty interesting

Taken together, these results indicate (1) that endogenous cannabinoids modulate acute nociceptive processing, (2) that this system is tonically active, and (3) that the activity of the cannabinoid receptor system increases after injury. If this is indeed the case, then the decreased nociceptive threshold that occurs in the setting of injury may partly be due to loss of a tonic cannabinoid activity. Thus, administration of exogenous cannabinoids could restore the tone of the system and presumably could alleviate the allodynia and pain that are triggered by injury.

In English: Cannabinoids (chemicals found normally in marijuana and its relatives) are involved in the suppression of acute pains. And the diminution of cannabinoids in this system that occurs with injuries may be that part of the reason why injured body parts have hyperalgesia (painful stimulation causes much more pain than normal) and allodynia (non-noxious stimuli --e.g., temperature changes or wind-- cause pains). This suggests that giving someone cannabinoids may help alleviate the lingering pains of injuries.
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