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Study supporting cannabis’ efficacy in treating chronic pain

Medical marijuana benefits
Medical marijuana benefits in the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain
Medical marijuana benefits
Medical marijuana benefits in the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain

In support of cannabis in the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain. Sourced research shows the the clinical benefits of medical marijuana use. 

Studies in the field of cannabis and its medical application have always been a hot topic among scientists. And many studies have been conducted to prove some kind of evidence to back up its efficacy claims. Researchers did find backing to support the short-term benefit of cannabis in the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain.

When the peripheral nerves sustain damage the pain caused by it is called neuropathic pain. For instance, diabetic neuropathy and pain are majorly described as tingling or burning sensations.

Cannabis-related products involved in the study: 

Marinol and Cesamet

The study involved FDA-approved synthetic products which had 100% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in them. The products were Dronabinol and Nabilone under the tradename Marinol and Cesamet respectively.

Sublingual spray

The sublingual spray has equal parts of CBD and THC in it. This one is extracted from a cannabis plant called Nabiximols. Although this product is not available in the US as of now, it did show some clinical benefits in the case of chronic pain.

Why are there such scarcities of evidence that support the clinical benefits of medical marijuana?

Given the hype of cannabis, the rise in medical marijuana card holders, and the talks of its efficiency to treat symptoms of various incurable diseases, there are very few studies and research which support the same. What could be the cause behind this mystery?

Well, the answer to this one can be separated into two points:

Scarcity of the material-

As surprising as it may sound, getting your hands on many rare and potent kinds of cannabis products is not that easy. This leads to scientists experimenting with more easily available ingredients. Which unfortunately cannot lead to more solid evidence of their efficiency to treat neuropathic pain.

Methodological limitations- 

Cannabis products have many dimensions when it comes to their chemical composition. And learning every aspect of the composition is important to figure out the effects of the product. It is also necessary to figure out what effect it will have on the patient, good or bad.

Hence there is an inaccuracy on cannabis products, especially when it comes to products made from the whole cannabis plant.  And this makes it difficult to study its effects. This makes it difficult for marijuana doctors to guide patients through a process.

There are other studies on the subject of neuropathic pain along with diabetic neuropathy. Also, there are many other kinds of neuropathy pains that have been studied and researched by different scientists.

Here are the lists of some of those studies-

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy

A study done by Wallace et al, 2015 – Wallace et al experimented on 16 patients suffering from neuropathic pain in their feet for more than 6 months. During the study, the scientists conducted a placebo-controlled crossover study to test the effect of cannabis on these patients. Throughout the experiment, the participants were to inhale a single dose of 1%, 4%, or 7%THC cannabis or placebo.

The observation says that the pain scores of the patients who took THC were lower than those who took a placebo. But there was a significant decline in the attentiveness and memory of the patients who took the highest doses of THC.

HIV neuropathy

A study done by Ellis et al, 2009 Ellis et al, performed with 34 patients with HIV neuropathy who were unresponsive to up to 2 analgesics having a different mode of action. This experiment was a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. During this test, the participants were to smoke either active cannabis or a placebo. The percentage of THC is chosen on the basis of its efficacy and tolerability.

Out of 34, 28 patients were able to achieve a reduction in their pain by 3.3 points.

Post Surgical/ Post Traumatic neuropathic pain

A study done by Ware et al, 2010 Ware et al, conducted a crossover experiment with 21 patients suffering from post-traumatic neuropathic pain. During this experiment, the participants had to inhale cannabis of 4 different compositions over 14 days. The experiment was extensive and at the end of each day, the pain levels were recorded using a numeric rating scale.

This experiment also observed the changes in mood, sleep, and the effects of cannabis on the participants.

Results showed that the patients who took THC with the strongest concentration had less pain and improved sleep cycles.

An important point to take into consideration

The cannabis that’s usually used in these experiments comes to the labs from the NIDA. And this cannabis has different potency than the one you find in the market.

So should you take medical cannabis for pain or not?

According to the results of such a rigorous study, it is clear that cannabis does help to significantly reduce pain but it also affects the brain. That is why if you are considering getting cannabis for treatment it is wise to discuss your condition with your marijuana doctor and get their guidance.