The Chronic Pain Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Chronic pain is something that almost everyone is familiar with because they either live with it or know someone that does. Chronic pain is one of the most prevalent medical conditions globally. According to Australia’s National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management, known as The Action Plan, an estimated 3.4 million Australians live with chronic pain.

The Chronic Pain Landscape 

The chronic pain landscape is quite vast as chronic pain can result from accidents, injuries, medical conditions, and other circumstances. Some of the most common underlying causes for chronic pain include nerve damage, arthritis, fibromyalgia, tension headaches, bone fractures, endometriosis, cystitis, IBS, sciatica, diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, and TMJ, to name a few. Chronic pain comes in six various types: nociceptive pain, somatic pain, visceral pain, neuropathic pain, psychogenic pain, and idiopathic pain.

Signs of Chronic Pain

Depending on the underlying cause of chronic pain, the exact symptoms and signs experienced by patients may vary. Some of the most common signs of chronic pain include but are not limited to the following.

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Burning or tingling sensations accompanied by pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues resulting from unexplained pain
  • Loss of flexibility due to decreased activity

When Should You Seek Help for Chronic Pain?

If you have experienced any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period extending more than three months without medication or self-care therapies, it is time that you seek help as you may be suffering from chronic pain or a related underlying condition. In many cases, the longer pain is left untreated, the harder it is to find relief.

How Is Chronic Pain Diagnosed?

Chronic pain is a condition that becomes diagnosable over time. Over the course of several months or even years, your doctors and specialists may perform various tests to pinpoint the cause of your pain and make a proper diagnosis. These tests will vary depending on the type and severity of your pain, but typically include X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, blood work, and neurological examinations, among others.

The Endocannabinoid System & Chronic Pain 

Plant therapies are believed to help regulate the body’s endocannabinoid system through CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the endogenous system. This, in return, may result in viable treatment options for a variety of disease processes, including chronic pain and associated symptoms.

According to “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids – The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research,” published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2017, concludes that the research surrounding cannabinoid therapies for the treatment of chronic pain is quite promising. This study reported the following;

  • Cannabinoids have been proven to be effective in treating neuropathic pain and spasticity related to MS.
  • Patients with chronic pain have reported a clinically noteworthy reduction in pain symptoms through the use of cannabinoid therapies.
  • There is substantial evidence that individuals with chronic pain are choosing to replace their opiate use with medical cannabis where legal programs exist.

Traditional Treatments for Chronic Pain 

Common treatment for chronic pain is characterized by medications for pain management. These often include pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, analgesics, narcotics, and nerve pain and antispasmodic medications. Additionally, chronic pain patients often undergo lifestyle and diet changes to help reduce the underlying cause of chronic pain as well as increase their mobility. Chronic pain patients sometimes also seek out cognitive, physical, psycho, behavioral, and massage therapies.

Plant Therapies for Chronic Pain – Clinical Trial Synopsis 

According to statistics from Fresh Leaf Analytics, 85% of those seeking out medical cannabis prescriptions in Australia are doing so to treat chronic pain, and for a good reason. The number of anecdotal stories that state the efficacy of cannabinoid therapies in relieving chronic pain seem to be endless. The clinical research available to date is also very promising in the realm of plant-based therapies for chronic pain treatment.

CA Clinics is recruiting for their CA Clinics Observational Study (CACOS) in conjunction with Applied Cannabis Research (ACR). CACOS aims to research the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis therapies for a wide variety of hard-to-treat conditions, including chronic pain. This study will be an ongoing observational study in which patients will self-report via a series of surveys. The study is open to patients who are approved for specific medicinal cannabis prescriptions through CA Clinics doctors and who are over the age of 18. To learn more about this registered trial, click here.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.

The Sleep Disorders Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Sleep disorders affect a large percentage of the global population. Therefore, many people are affected by at least one form of sleep-related disorder. According to statistics provided by the Parliament of Australia, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Australians suffer from at least one major sleep condition.

The Sleep Disorders Landscape 

While most of us are familiar with a bad night’s sleep, for millions of people worldwide, a lousy night’s sleep has become expected due to various sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders diagnosed globally include but are not limited to insomnia, sleep apnea, Restless Legs Syndrome, narcolepsy, circadian rhythm disorder, and idiopathic hypersomnia. The underlying cause of sleep disorders can drastically vary from patient to patient. In general, sleep disorders are typically caused by underlying physical, mental, or environmental issues.

Signs of Sleep Disorders

Each sleep disorder comes with its own unique set of symptoms and complications. However, some of the most common signs of sleep disorders experienced by patients include the following:

  • • Daytime fatigue
  • • Irritability
  • • Lack of concentration
  • • Difficulty staying or falling asleep
  • • Depression
  • • Weight gain
  • • Impaired performance at work or school
  • • Strong urge to nap during the day
  • • Unusual breathing and/or movement patterns while sleeping

When Should You Seek Help for Sleep Disorders?

If you regularly experience issues falling or staying asleep or feel extremely fatigued after receiving a solid 7 hours or more of sleep on a regular basis, it is vital that you seek out help. Additionally, if your lack of ability to sleep begins to affect your ability to perform your regular day-to-day activities, it is time to see a medical professional. Sleep disorders, when left undiagnosed and untreated, can result in a plethora of complications and may be a sign of a more severe underlying medical condition.

How Are Sleep Disorders Diagnosed?

While some sleep disorders can be diagnosed through a patient/doctor conversation or a simple overnight sleep study at home, other more severe cases may require evaluation in a sleep laboratory for proper diagnosis. Some of the tests commonly performed in order to diagnose sleep disorders include polysomnography (PSG), Multiple Sleep Latency Tests (MSLTs), and electroencephalograms (EEGs).

The Endocannabinoid System & Sleep Disorders 

Plant therapies are believed to help regulate the body’s endocannabinoid system. This, in return, may result in viable treatment options for a plethora of diseases, including various sleep disorders. In a study published in 2020 titled “Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, and Sleep,” researchers concluded that the impact of cannabinoid-based products on sleep disorders provides great hope for plant-based therapies for sleep issues.

“It is becoming increasingly evident that endocannabinoids play a prominent role in sleep and sleep neurophysiology, and cannabinoid drugs alter these processes.” Researchers in the study pointed out that there is a distinct overlap between the body’s endocannabinoid system and sleep-wake circuitry, as well as a clear need for extensive research in this vital area.

Traditional Treatments for Sleep Disorders 

Seeing how many sleep disorders are caused by an underlying mental or physical condition, it is essential that treatment is provided to address those ailments. Additionally, some of the most common treatments for sleep disorders include pharmaceutical and over-the-counter sleep aids, natural melatonin supplements, breathing devices (in the case of sleep apnea), lifestyle adjustments, and diet changes.

Plant Therapies for Sleep Disorders – Clinical Trial Synopsis 

The stories of plant therapies providing relief from a wide variety of different sleep disorders are abundant on the internet today as more places have embraced these natural therapies. Additionally, the research we have available to date is also quite promising regarding plant therapies and sleep conditions. Currently, there are several ongoing trials in Australia researching the efficiency of plant therapies for the treatment of sleep disorders.

Swinburne University is conducting an interventional, randomised, placebo-controlled pilot trial with eligible patients with insomnia using medicinal cannabis treatments. Participants are eligible for the study if they are between the ages of 18 and 45, and have an Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) score of 15 or more, have self-reported difficulties falling or staying asleep, are dissatisfied with their current sleep patterns, or experience sleep issues that interfere with their daily lives. Learn more about this registered trial here.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.

The IBS Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS for short, is a condition that many people have heard about. This is because it is a very prevalent disease in various populations around the world. According to statistics from Health Direct, IBS is more prevalent among women than men. Statistics estimate that IBS affects nearly 15% of the Australian population.

The IBS Landscape 

IBS comes in several forms. These include IBS-C, IBS-D, IBS-M, sometimes known as IBS-A, Post-Infectious IBS, and Post-Diverticulitis IBS. Each type of IBS comes with its own set of specific symptoms, risks, prevalences, and treatment options. The most common causes of IBS include infection, food intolerance, dietary issues, medications, and emotional stress.

Signs of IBS

While each of the five forms of IBS comes with its own set of symptoms, some of the most common symptoms and signs of IBS that are prevalent across all forms include the following:

  • • Nausea
  • • Mucus in Stools
  • • Abdominal Bloating
  • • Sensation that Bowels Are Still Full Even After Having a Bowel Movement
  • • Common Alternating Occurrences of Diarrhea and Constipation
  • • Abdominal Cramping and Pain

When Should You Seek Help for IBS? 

While many of the symptoms of IBS are also associated with other diseases and conditions, if you have one of these symptoms for a prolonged time or are at higher risk of developing IBS, it is vital that you seek medical help immediately and receive a formal diagnosis. If you have one of the symptoms listed above for a prolonged period and it is accompanied by a significant lack of appetite, sudden weight loss, the feeling of dizziness, discomfort within your joints, skin, or eyes, or includes pain that is progressively worsening, you should seek medical help immediately as these could be signs of a severe IBS flare-up.

How Is IBS Diagnosed?

IBS is diagnosed when the criteria known as the Rome IV are met. These criteria include recurrent abdominal pain occurring at least one day a week over the past three months, consistently accompanied by at least two of the following criteria: change in frequency of bowel movements, pain when having a bowel motion, a change in the consistency or appearance of bowel movements. 

The Endocannabinoid System & IBS

Plant therapies are believed to help regulate the body’s endocannabinoid system. This, in return, may result in viable treatment options for a plethora of diseases, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome. According to a study published in 2010, therapeutic treatments, including those that involve cannabidiol (CBD), may have the ability to regulate bacteria and fungi along with other gut microbes that are thought to be one of the leading causes of IBS. A recent review of clinical research also showed that there is much promise in the area of CBD and THC treatments for IBS patients; these cannabinoids have been thoroughly researched and are attributed to relieving many of the common symptoms suffered by IBS patients, including but not limited to loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Traditional Treatments for IBS

The most common treatments for IBS include medications such as laxatives, antibiotics, nerve pain medications, dietary supplements, anti-diarrheal medication, and gut antispasmodic medications. Other treatments for IBS include self-care aspects such as exercise, stress management, and dietary changes.

Australian Clinical Trials – Plant Therapies for IBS

With a simple internet search, you can find a plethora of anecdotal stories of IBS patients finding relief through plant therapies. So far, the research performed in countries worldwide regarding the use of plant therapies in the treatment of IBS has also shown them to be quite promising.

Emerald Clinics is conducting an open-label observational study with eligible patients with IBS symptoms using medicinal cannabis treatments. Participants are eligible for the study if they are 18 years or older, meet the criteria for IBS of any subtype including IBS with constipation, IBS with diarrhea, mixed type IBS or unsubtyped IBS, have had symptoms for more than 6 months, and consent to participate in the study. To learn more about this registered trial, click here.

To see if you are eligible for plant based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.