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Hate Getting Novocain Shot at Dentist? Try Marijuana

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By George Rohrbacher, NORML Board of Directors, medical marijuana patient

Science and medicine run deep in my family. My dad and an uncle had
Ph.D.s in parasitology and pathology. My dad’s dad was an M.D. Grandpa
met my grandmother when they were both attending medical school at the
Univ. of California, in 1915. My grandma’s grandmother learned surgical
nursing during the Civil War and afterward was the “doctor” for
Oroville, California for many years. My mother, brother, and several
aunts are all Registered Nurses. For at least five generations, our
family has been committed to science and healing. It is from this
perspective that I view marijuana as a medicine.

Like most Americans, I discovered marijuana as a medicine quite by
accident. 60-years old, I’ve used pot for over 41 years simply because
it makes me feel good. I like it. But who would have ever guessed
cannabis was actually helping me stay healthy at the same time?

A ‘bad back’ is one of medicine’s most oft heard adult complaints,
and during my 35-years of farming and ranching, my body has written
many a check my back couldn’t cash. Sometimes my back has hurt so bad
that if I got down on the floor, I couldn’t get up without help. In the
end, after trying numerous back treatments, I found that just plain
walking and stretching was the best way to deal with my lower back
pain, that is, walking and stretching while consuming marijuana. I had
first bunched these activities together so as to allow me to get my
hurting back “walked out”, and at the same time, I had the privacy to
smoke a little pot out of the sight of my growing children. I soon
found that walking and stretching while using cannabis was many times
more effective for treating my back pain than just walking without it!
Marijuana seemed to relax my muscles, reduce spasms and inflammation.
When I later became acquainted with the scientific research on this
subject, I found out that was exactly what cannabis, and its cannabinoids, had been doing for my body all along.

Decades of splitting firewood, pounding fence posts and other such
farm work has left me with two ruptured discs in my neck and numbness
and pain that sometimes plagues my hands and fingers. Nasty. Sometimes,
very, very nasty. Cannabis helps control the pain from
these pinched nerves and cannabis helps me sleep at night without
killing my liver or kidneys, without causing gastric distress or
constipation, and without damaging my sex drive or good humor. Cannabis
helps me pursue my non-surgical options, while at the same time it
reduces inflammation and muscle soreness from my on-going activities.

Along with the work-related injuries, I am also a walking
encyclopedia of old football injuries, some that still have me hobbling
around, four decades after the last touchdown. I’m a big guy, played
defensive tackle and lacrosse, too. I loved banging heads. In the
process, I’ve separated a shoulder, had a major knee operation and
sprained both ankles numerous times. But, am I standing in line for a
knee or hip replacement like my no-pot using baby sister or
brother-in-law? NOPE! Why no replacements of my damaged joints? I
honestly think it’s because of the four decades of cannabis use that I
can still walk five miles every day on my banged-up knee and ankles
without any pain or inflammation. As it turns out, even the cartilage
in one’s joints has cannabinoid receptor sites.

Oh yes, sure a dislocated ankle really hurts, but for a real
front-row seat to the world of pain, there is nothing like a migraine
headache. I am one of the unfortunate millions of Americans who have
diet-triggered migraine headaches. But fortunately, over the years,
I’ve rooted out my dietary ‘triggers’, which include: chocolate, red
wine, aged cheese, soy sauce,…and now, I rarely have a migraine
anymore. I avoid those triggers like the plague. But in my medicine
chest, just in case, to help me deal with one of those aura-producing,
skull-splitting migraine headaches that still lurk along life’s path,
marijuana is an essential medicine. Almost instant migraine relief is possible for me with vaporized or smoked cannabis.

In late January, this past winter, we had a freezing fog that
glazed-over everything for miles around. I took a dramatic fall on the
ice and landed flat on the back of my ass. Both feet went out from
under me so quickly I had not even gotten an elbow or finger down to
help break my fall onto the ice-covered concrete slab. Well, at least I
hadn’t cracked my head, I thought, as I lay there on my back on the
ice, testing for broken bones. Slowly I started to move. Yup, I was OK.
No broken hip,
thank God—just the start of one very, very sore ass from taking the
full impact of that drop onto the ice-glazed concrete. I crawled back
into the house, went directly to our freezer, and took out a double
dose of my special medical marijuana spice cake. About an
hour-and-a-half later, my wife and I walked out the door on the start
of a slow, but enjoyable, three-mile hike. My pelvis was very sore but,
with the cannabis properly applied, it was good to go. I repeated this
treatment every day for the next week, cannabis edibles and walking.

As my bruised butt was healing, I went to see my dentist for a
check-up. He looked into my mouth and said I needed a filling, “Nothing
too major.” Fortunately I was prepared; I had taken a good dose of my
cannabis edibles an hour or so before my appointment, to allow me to
sit, despite my injury, without discomfort in the dentist’s chair. I
said to my dentist, “No Novocain today, Doc.” He nodded and started to
prepare his drill. He’d seen me do this before.

Cannabinoid receptor sites are primarily in the peripheral nervous
system. As cannabis calms the underlying causes of most back pain, the
inflammation and tightness of the muscles, the cannabinoids also act on
the peripheral nervous system to modulate the pain messages transmitted
to the major nerves. The pain from tooth drilling is a bit different,
that kind of pain is hard-wired directly into the brain. Cannabis
doesn’t block that pain so much as helps a person to simply look past
the pain and ignore it.

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In having one’s teeth drilled, due to the fear of pain, virtually
everyone trades a very few moments of serious pain from the drilling,
for about two hours of having one’s face defrost from the jaw-numbing
shot of Novocain. I said, “No Novocain for me today, Doc,” because I
chose the pain, knowing medical marijuana would help me overcome it.

Here’s how: Take cannabis edibles an hour or two before you are to
sit in the dentist’s chair. Not flinching while the dentist is drilling
your teeth is a big job. You must lie there absolutely still, melted
into the chair, immobile. Cannabis is very useful in this process, not
so much to block the high-voltage pain from the tooth drilling, but to
help your mind reach the meditative state to deflect that pain, so you
can let the pain flow over you like water.

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Think of your time in that dentist’s chair like body surfing in big
waves. When a crusher wave comes in, you must dive down deep, hold your
breath, and let it roll over you. When it’s safe, you can come up again
for air. The ocean is too big to fight; you have to hold on until the
wave passes. And, it’s the very same thing having your teeth drilled
without gas or Novocain. The very second the drilling stops, that tooth
pain stops, as well, and you can safely come up for air. With modern
high-speed dental drills, the actual total number of seconds of real
pain are quite few, providing the excavation isn’t the Grand Canyon
(your dentist can help you judge). So, just relax, it’s really not that
bad, roll your eyes back, and let her rip! With a little pot spice cake
behind you, you’ll be quite surprised, you can handle it! And, it’s
only going to hurt for a few seconds, anyway. Afterward, when the
drilling’s all done, putting in the filling doesn’t hurt a bit.

One very nice thing about dentistry without Novocain is you always
get the occlusion right, the first time, everytime, because you can
actually feel your mouth when the dentist tells you to bite down, and
asks, “Is the new filling too high or low?” And then, when the dentist
takes off your dental bib, it’s all over; it is really totally over—no
frosted face, no needle marks in your gums, nothing else to recover

Without the Novocain shot as part of your dental work, you can walk
out of your dentist’s office pain-free after a filling, your cannabis
edibles still kicked in, whistling your favorite tune! Now, you try
doing that for the next hour or two with your face and lower lip
de-frosting from the Novocain!

I’ve been using cannabis as a medicine for over 30 years, 5 years legally. Washington State’s voters gave me the right to use marijuana as a medicine in 1998;
I got my doctor’s recommendation in ‘04. President Obama’s Justice
Department has said the Feds will no longer interfere with Washington
State law in this area. Decades of worry and paranoia, the fear of a
SWAT Team, with their guns drawn, bursting through our front door in
the middle of the night, bringing drug dogs to search for my medicine
has abated, at least for now. Help NORML end America’s marijuana prohibition for good.

Achieving proper titration: In the words of the DEA’s
own Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young: “Marijuana, in its
natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances
know to man…”
Advances in technology have come in all areas of
modern life and making marijuana use even safer is no exception! In the
last five years, I have all but given up smoking pot in favor of using
a vaporizer—it’s clean and very tasty, with no tars or fire-created
carcinogens—although for mobility and socialization it will always be
hard to replace a joint. Achieving proper dosing levels using a
vaporizer or smoking is quite easy, full effects are seen in about ten
minutes and last about an hour-and-a-half before declining. Homemade
cannabis edibles take about 20-40 minutes to kick-in, a lot depending
on what else is in your stomach, and some experimentation is needed to
find the proper dosing levels; but for long term, high-dose pain
relief, edibles are hard to beat.

Irvin Rosenfeld, America’s longest surviving Federal cannabis patient, has been receiving federally-grown pot for 27 years.
Irv finds smoked pot works best for him. He consumes 10-to-15 joints a
day to deal with the challenges of living with a rare form of bone
cancer that has afflicted him since childhood. A stockbroker handling
millions of dollars in transactions, Irv has said he never feels a
“high” from using marijuana, even though he uses it all day long.

About two years ago, when the pinched nerves in my neck were acting
their very worst, I began using cannabis at dosing levels where pot’s
marvelous, fun and useful psycho-active effects started disappearing
for me as well. Damn, it’s the shits to be that sick! Thank goodness,
I’m better now.


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