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Considerations for Cannabis Use to Treat Pain in Sickle Cell Disease


Pain in Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a major comorbidity and unique with acute pain due to recurrent and episodic vaso-occlusive crises as well as chronic pain, which can span an individual's entire life. Opioids are the mainstay treatment for pain in SCD. Due to recent health crises raised by adverse effects including deaths from opioid use, pain management in SCD is adversely affected. Cannabis and its products are most widely used for pain in multiple conditions and also by patients with SCD on their own. With the availability of "Medical Cannabis" and approval to use cannabis as medicine across majority of States in the United States as well as over-the-counter preparations, cannabis products are being used increasingly for SCD. The reliability of many of these products remains questionable, which poses a major health risk to the vulnerable individuals seeking pain relief. Therefore, this review provides up to date insights into available categories of cannabis-based treatment strategies, their mechanism of action and pre-clinical and clinical outcomes in SCD. It provides evidence for the benefits and risks of cannabis use in SCD and cautions about the unreliable and unvalidated products that may be adulterated with life-threatening non-cannabis compounds.

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