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15.12.09

Cannabis mouth spray gives pain relief to cancer patients

cannabis plant
A cannabis plant grown in Morocco: Scientists found a spray using an 
extract was effective at reducing pain levels in cancer patients

Cancer patients who used a cannabis mouth spray had their pain levels reduced by a third, researchers said today.

The cannabis-based spray, like a mouth freshener, was used on 177 patients by researchers from Edinburgh University.

They found that it reduced pain levels by 30 per cent in a group of cancer patients, all in the Edinburgh area, who had not been helped by morphine or other medicines.

The spray was developed so that it did not affect the mental state of patients in the way that using cannabis would.
The researchers said their findings, reported in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, did not justify smoking cannabis as this could increase the risk of cancer.

They said the spray works by activating molecules in the body called cannabinoid receptors which can stop nerve signals being sent to the brain from the site of pain.

A cannabis extract spray called Savitex is already being prescribed as pain relief for multiple sclerosis patients.
Edinburgh University's Professor Marie Fallon said: 'These early results are very promising and demonstrate that cannabis-based medicines may deliver effective treatment for people with severe pain.

'Prescription of these drugs can be very useful in combating debilitating pain, but it is important to understand the difference between their medical and recreational use.'

The Class B substance is the most widely used illegal drug in Britain. However, cannabis use has been linked to a wide range of mental health problems.

In August a study showed that even one-off users of cannabis show signs of behaviour linked to schizophrenia, with half of those tested having an 'acute psychotic reaction'. The drug also affects coordination and concentration levels.

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