A pharmaceutical pill form of marijuana may be as efficient in relieving pain as smoking it, but with fewer negative effects, new study suggests.
According to the research, people who either smoked marijuana or took the drug dronabinol, pill form of active marijuana ingredient, were able to resist cold temperature better than the participants who were given placebo.
It was also shown that pain-killing effect associated with dronabinol in pill lasts longer than the one produced by smoking marijuana, the researchers found out.
The average time of pain-reducing effect for pill is 4.5 hours. When smoked, it lasts only 2.5 hours. On the other side, analgesic properties of the pill reveal themselves about an hour after consumption, instead smoking produces them as soon as in 15 minutes.
"Smoking anything presents certain health risks," said study researcher Ziva Cooper, an assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University's Department of Psychiatry. Substances in the smoke can reduce lung function or increase the risk of cancer.
The new findings suggest a marijuana pill "can produce analgesic effects for longer without the health risks that come along with smoking," Cooper said.
Study participants were also less likely to say that they found the effects of dronabinol pleasurable, compared with people who smoke marijuana, indicating that the pill has less potential for abuse, Cooper said.
The new study was published April 22 in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
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