Pharmaceutical entrepreneurs are constantly brainstorming new ideas to make cannabis and its products easily accessible and safely usable for medical and recreational purposes. In the 29 states where it’s currently legal, cannabis is available as capsules, oils, nasal sprays, inhalers, smokes, pipes, vapes, and even water infused with a certain amount of CBD.
Well, how about chewing it just like nicotine gum? Cannabis is now being produced as a chewable gum for pain relief . Millions of people all over the country, with the majority of them being elderly and above the age of 65, are using marijuana to relieve symptoms of pain from conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatism, side effects of chemotherapy, seizures, muscle aches, etc . Statistics in 2017 show that about 9 percent of U.S adults aged between 50 and 64 are using marijuana as a chronic pain relief medication .
A detailed 2017 study published U.S National Library of Medicine shows that a great percentage of people using marijuana have attested to its helpful medical benefits and pain relieving properties . The study involved 4,273 adult participants from the North-Eastern region of the United States, who had been diagnosed with pain-inclusive medical conditions. Analysis of the surveys they completed shows that 36% of them, the highest percentage, attested to the positive effects of marijuana on chronic pain. The negative responses centered mostly on the high cost and inaccessibility of medical marijuana.
Cannabis gum largely based on CBD
According to one of the pioneer companies in marijuana products, Medical Marijuana Inc., chewable gum won’t get anybody high, even if ten tabs are being chewed at once. The Southern California based company extracts cannabidiol (one of the 104 cannabinoids found in marijuana) from industrial hemp to produce their patented gum, CanChew Plus.
Speaking to L.A weekly, CanChew’s lead scientist, Dr. George Anastassov, explained that the chewable won’t get users high due to its very low composition of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis . “This is not coming from marijuana. This has very little or no THC — 11 parts per million. It definitely will not get anybody high, even if you take 10 at once.”
THC and CBD are the major pain-relieving compounds in cannabis . THC affects the mind and elevates it to a state of euphoria during its actions, which is described as a ‘high’. The human body produces several cannabinoids on its own which are not sufficient for pain-relieving functions. THC has a similar structure to these cannabinoids and is able to stimulate cannabinoid receptors in the brain to relieve pain.
However, several cannabis gum products, CanChew inclusive, feature very little to no THC. Its main ingredient is CBD (cannabidiol), a type of cannabinoid which can fuse with the naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body to inhibit the action of pain receptors in the brain, thereby reducing pain levels. As laws change more products, including gums, will most likely hit the market and include THC as well. Some already have, such as Colorado based company, Joygum.
How would the gum be effective?
Cannabis chewing gum is gearing up to be a novel option, with some potentially notable advantages over other forms of administration such as edibles, oils, or capsules. When a patient ingests the capsules, 90% of the medication will undergo metabolism by the liver, which are then mostly converted into inactive metabolites, rendering the potentially therapeutic cannabinoids inactive . Chewing gum offers a mode of delivery that would bypass this either sublingually or via oromucosal routes in the mouth. In essence this form would be a way to deliver cannabinoids into the bloodstream faster with less burden on the liver.
According to Anastassov, 50% of the CBD in his gum would remain in the edibles after hours of chewing, while 80% of the assimilated percentage would be ingested within 30 minutes, with only a little to lose to metabolic processes. Generally, the gum would deliver lower doses of cannabis with faster-acting CBD, reportedly serving the pain-relief purpose with a potential for less side effects long term.
He explains that CanChew has undergone 14 years of research, trials, and development, and has hit the market to join several other marijuana edibles but with its own sophisticated, patented technology.
“It’s hard to release cannabinoid from a chewing gum base,” Anastassov says. “These compounds are very tricky to work with because they’re not water-soluble. They bind to the gum base, and it’s difficult to release them. It takes quite a bit of sophisticated technology.”
Possible side effects of cannabis gum
Verified reviews and reliable interviews on cannabis chewing gum are still coming up, and for now, it’s not really certain how effective they are for people with different kinds of chronic pain-inclusive conditions.
A possible side effect of the edible may be periodontal disease. A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that 60% of individuals who smoked marijuana were more likely to suffer gum diseases . It’s uncertain if marijuana gum products would cause this same side effect since the study was based on cannabis smoke.
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