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VA Allows Some Veterans to Use Medical Marijuana

United States Department of Veterans Affairs has decided to revise a policy to allow veterans in states where medical marijuana is legally allowed to use the natural pain reliever for pain management.

As many as 14 states allow medical marijuana, but the federal government outlaws its use, creating a situation in which residents who follow their state law and use the natural painkiller would have to face a possible federal persecution.

The new policy will take effect next week, according to New York Times.

Under the current department rules, veterans can be denied prescription painkillers if they are found using illegal drugs and there is no written exception for medical marijuana which has been found highly effective in fighting some types of pain such as that experienced by HIV/AIDS and cancer patients.

Still the new rules do not allow veterans in states that do not allow medical marijuana to use the natural pain killer. And doctors can still refuse to give veterans prescription painkillers if they are using marijuana and doctors believe no prescription painkillers are the best option for the patients.

Many natural painkillers are actually available even though not all may be as effective as marijuana.  Below are some of the alternative pain relievers that patients with different medical conditions may consider using if they opt not to use prescription painkillers some of which if not all have been linked to increased heart risk.

Capsaicin, chilli pepper ingredient for arthritis, shingles, or neuropathy

A study led researchers at the University of Oxford says that capsaicin can temporaily desensitize pain-prone skin nerve receptors called C-fibers. Nearly 40 percent of arthritis patients reduced their pain by 50 percent after using a topical capsaicin cream for a month while 60 percent of neuropathy patients reduced their pain by half after two months.

The pain-relieving effects of capsaicin has been linked to a lipid called PIP2 found in cell membranes. When cpasaicin is applied on the skin, it induces a depletion of PIP2 in the cell membranes.

Ginger as a natural pain reliever

Two grams of raw or cooked ginger supplement taken for 11 consecutive days helped reduce exercise-induced pain by 25 percent within 24 hours, one study found. Some ginger compounds like gingerols, shagaols and zingerones have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS.

InflaThera or Zyflamend for arthritis

These supplements contain ginger, turmeric and holy basil all of which have anti-inflammatory properties.  Turmeric, a curry ingredient, has been found particularly effective at easing inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.  But these supplements may be only sold through medical professionals.

SAM-e or S adenosylmethionine for osteoarthritis

This product is made from a naturally occurring amino acid and sold as capsules.  It is not clear how the product relieves pain but studies showed that SAM-e was as effective as some NSAIDS in easing steoarthritis pain. An additional benefit is that it does not raise cardiovascular risks as some prescription drugs do.

Fish oil for joint pain from arthritis or autoimmune disorders

One study showed about 40 percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis who took cod liver oil daily were able to reduce their NSAID use by a third.  Fish oil worked better for neck and back pain.  After 10 weeks, two-thirds of patients were able to stop using NSAIDS.

Acupuncture for all types of pains.

Acupuncture induced naturally occurring pain relieving compounds in the body.

Medical marijuana is now allowed for veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal. But you don't have to be a veteran to use these alternatives for your pain management.

By David Liu