Are there medications you can replace with marijuana? As science and the general public continue to discover the natural healing properties of cannabis, it seems more are turning to it for their pain, anxiety and depression.
In fact emerging data suggests that use and abuse of prescription drugs may be decreasing in states where medical cannabis is legal. A 2017 study published in The Journal of Pain Research found that 46% of the 1,248 respondents reported using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs. Apparently, there are many drugs that can be replaced with cannabis.
Is it move over Big Pharma time? While we haven’t reached that point yet due to marijuana´s
legal issues, given pharmaceutical addiction dangers, medical marijuana may become the next best option.
Medications you Can Replace with Marijuana
1. Opiate Painkillers Like Vicodin, Percocet or Oxycodone
The largest class of drugs being replaced with cannabis, according to the Journal of Pain Research, are opioids (35.8%). Whether it´is Roxicet, Percocet, or Vicodin, these opiates (aka opioid analgesics or narcotics) relieve acute and chronic severe pain. Unfortunately, overdoses of pharmaceutical such as these are the norm in the news these days and are causing people to seek alternatives like cannabis.
According to clinical data published in The Journal of Pain, patients with chronic pain reported reduced discomfort and an increase in the quality of their life compared to controls after using cannabis daily for a total of one year. In addition, they reported that cannabis had not increased their risk to serious side effects.
2. Benzodiazepines Like Xanax
Xanax is the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. It’s also highly addictive. In turn, certain strains of medical marijuana may help lessen panic and anxiety, as reported in a study at Vanderbilt University.. Humans have natural endocannabinoid systems that regulates anxiety, and when certain cannabinoids are introduced to the body, they have been shown to significantly reduce anxious feelings.
3. Zolpidem, the Sedative in Ambien for Sleep Disorders
For those with incurable insomnia or sleep apnea, cannabis may do the trick of getting them the rest they crave. A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry suggested that TetraHydroCannabinol stabilizes autonomic output during sleep, reduces spontaneous sleep-disordered breathing, and blocks serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea.
4. Antidepressants Like Zoloft
Scientists at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) studied chronic stress and depression, focusing on endocannabinoids, and found that marijuana may be useful in reducing depression that results from chronic stress. RIA´s senior research scientist Samir Haj-Dahmane, PhD said: “Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”
5. Methylphenidates, Like the Stimulants Adderall or Ritalin
These pharmaceutical stimulants are used to combat what is commonly called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. When German scientists studied 30 patients with ADHD who had minimal success with Adderall or Ritalin they found that after using medical cannabis, all 30 participants reported “improved concentration and sleep” and “reduced impulsivity.” For adult patients with ADHD, who experience side effects or do not profit from standard medication, cannabis may be an effective and well-tolerated alternative.
6. Anti-inflammatories Like Ibuprofen
A study published in Future Medicinal Chemistry looked at the potential use of cannabinoids as a new class of anti-inflammatory agents against a number of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Results found that overall, cannabinoids exhibited significant potential to be used as novel anti-inflammatory agents without exerting psychotropic side effects.
7. Alzheimer’s Medicine
For those with late stage Alzheimer’s there may be some good news: it seems cannabis can ease their anxiety. Symptoms such as agitation and aggression could in theory be counteracted by the effects of cannabis or its components, reports the Alzheimer’s Society. Some studies have found that taking cannabis or cannabinoids could help to manage some of the behavioral symptoms of dementia, though more studies are needed.
8. Glaucoma Medicine
Studies conducted back in the 1970s showed that smoking marijuana lowered the IOP of people with glaucoma. But while marijuana does decrease eye pressure caused by the disease by about 25 percent, its effects only last an hour. Thus, drug substitution with cannabis is still dangerous and not recommend by the AAO.