What is cannabis-based medicine and medicinal cannabis?

Chronic pain and other discomforts due to disease are often seen in conditions such as sclerosis and cancer. They can be difficult to manage, and many people are of the opinion, that treatment with medicine according to national and international guidelines are not providing them with sufficient pain relief. Treatments for diseases such as cancer are often associated with side effects and a decreased quality of life. Consequently, many patients are looking for alternative treatments with medicinal cannabis or cannabis-based medicine.

Medicinal cannabis is a more recent term for the treatment and symptom relief with cannabis terminal buds or cannabis-based products. The medicinal cannabis comes from the Sativa and Indica plants, which contain the chemical compounds and active substances that result in pain and some symptom relief.

If you smoke joints or hash as a drug, you will experience a very varying effect where the purpose is often to get stoned or high. If you are prescribed medicinal cannabis or cannabis-based medicine, we carefully choose and combine the cannabinoids in doses that will have an effect on your specific condition. You will therefore not get stoned or high, but experience the pain relieving effect only.

​Medicinal cannabis is terminal buds from the cannabis plant, whereas cannabis-based medicine is capsules or oils containing the active substances from the cannabis plant (THC or CBD). The cannabis plants contain more than a 100 different compounds called cannabinoids. Each cannabinoid has its own effect on the body.

Particularly cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are used in medicinal cannabis and cannabis-based medicine. There are also available cannabis-based medicine in which the active cannabinoids are chemically produced in labs. This is the case for products such as Nabilone and Marinol, which we offer to our patients.

In 1964, 2 Israeli scientists identified delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. The discovery lead to isolation of hundreds of cannabinoids that are still undergoing further clinical evaluation for use in medicine and treatment methods. THC is often used in treatment of sclerosis patients who suffer from tremors, cramps and spasms.

Several systematic reviews of the effects from medicinal cannabis and cannabis-based medicine suggest a predominantly positive effect. This is for example seen on pain from muscle cramps in patients with disseminated sclerosis, pain and side effects associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients, and to some extent neuropathic pain.