Medical use of cannabis in sickle cell disease
An anonymous questionnaire survey was conducted at the Central Middlesex Hospital in London among adults suffering from sickle cell disease (SCD). 86 subjects aged 23 to 39 years participated in the study. 31 had used cannabis in the previous 12 months to relieve symptoms associated with SCD. The main route in all but two patients was by smoking. The main reasons for use were to reduce pain in 52 per cent, and to induce relaxation or relieve anxiety and depression in 39 per cent.
SCD is a blood condition caused by a cell mutation, which is seen most commonly in people from Africa and India. Sickle cell syndromes also occur in people of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern background. This mutation causes a change in haemoglobin, the oxygen-transport protein in red blood cells. Pain is one of the predominant symptoms in SCD. It can be severe enough to require opioid analgesics for relief, can recur acutely at unpredicted intervals, is associated with inflammation and can become chronic.
Sources: www.cannabis-med.org; Howard J, Anie KA, Holdcroft A, Korn S, Davies SC. Cannabis use in sickle cell disease: a questionnaire study. Br J Haematol 2005;131(1):123-8.)