Researchers at the University of New Mexico (UNM) found that cannabis provides immediate symptom relief across dozens of health symptoms with relatively minimal negative side effects.
UNM Department of Psychology Associate Professor Jacob Miguel Vigil and UNM Department of Economics Assistant Professor Sarah See Stith discovered via two studies that patients experienced statistically and clinically significant therapeutic benefits when they used cannabis for symptoms ranging from chronic pain to insomnia.
These studies analyzed data collected from a mobile app with nearly 100,000 user sessions entered on the consumption and effects of cannabis use in the United States.
“If the results found in our studies can be extrapolated to the general population, cannabis could systematically replace multi-billion dollar medication industries around the world. It is likely already beginning to do so,” said Vigil. “In addition, if the short-term risk-benefit profile of cannabis found in our studies reflects its longer-term therapeutic potential, substitution of cannabis for traditional pharmaceuticals could reduce the risk of dangerous drug interactions and the costs associated with taking multiple medications by allowing patients to treat a constellation of comorbidities with a single treatment modality.”
In addition to therapeutic benefits, these studies also showed that cannabis use is associated with frequent and numerous, yet generally non-serious side effects. Positive and context-specific side effects were far more commonly reported than negative side effects by the mobile app users, with the most frequent reported side effects being positive (i.e., relaxed, peaceful, comfy) and the least frequent side effects being negative (i.e., paranoia, confusion, headache).
“Observational studies are more appropriate than experimental research designs for measuring how patients choose to consume cannabis and the effects of those choices,” said Vigil. “By collecting massive amounts of patient-entered information on actual cannabis used under real-life circumstances we are able to measure why patients consume cannabis, the types of products that patients use, and the immediate and longer-term effects of such use. In other words, many of the important and practical research questions that randomized controlled trials fail to address.”