People with cardiovascular disease or those who have risk factors for developing it need to question whether the pain relief they receive from NSAIDs is worth the increased risk for heart attack or stroke.
This is not an easy decision to make. With their debilitating and often fatal side effects, opioids, such as Vicodin or Percocet, are a non-starter as an NSAID alternative. Acetaminophens, such as Tylenol, can provide some pain relief, but they are not an anti-inflammatory and for many will not provide as much relief as NSAIDs. Neither will aspirin, which non-aspirin NSAIDs were developed to replace.
Cannabis vs NSAIDS: A Safer Alternative for Pain Management
Of course, nowhere in the medical literature about the newly reported dangers of non-aspirin NSAIDS does marijuana come up for discussion. It seems the medical establishment would rather people suffer from pain or die from continuing to use NSAIDs than buck the iron fist of law enforcement and admit that marijuana has significant medicinal value.
Cannabis is a powerful anti-inflammatory with none of the debilitating and dangerous side effects of NSAIDs. It follows a different route than NSAIDs to suppress inflammation. Unlike non-aspirin NSAIDs, which work by blocking the production of COX enzymes that produce inflammatory prostaglandins, cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties are achieved by modulating the formation of inflammatory cytokine molecules and free radical production through the regulation of ion channels.
Unlike NSAIDs whose side effects are both debilitating and lethal, the only significant side effect of using cannabis to reduce inflammation is that it makes the user feel good.
Studies have shown that states that have medical cannabis laws have significantly fewer opioid overdose deaths as people use cannabis as a viable alternative to the incapacitating and lethal opioids. Now it seems that states that have medical cannabis laws may also have lower heart attack rates as patients will be able to use cannabis as a viable alternative to NSAIDs.
The effectiveness of non-aspirin NSAIDs and their easy availability, affordability and perceived safety meant that people were not looking for alternatives. Now many will be.
For cannabis to be effective as an alternative to NSAIDs, it needs to be as easily available as NSAIDs. A paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded “that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers.” It could be reasonably concluded that broader access to cannabis could also reduce the chronic use of NSAIDs thereby improving the health and safety of 17 million Americans.