Smoked cannabis reduces chronic pain

For people suffering chronic pain, smoked cannabis reduces pain, improves mood and helps sleep, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj091414.pdf.

People who suffer from chronic neuropathic pain due to damage or dysfunction of the nervous system have few treatment options. These options include opioids, anticonvulsants, antidepressants and local anesthetics, but efficacy varies and all have side effects which limit compliance. Oral cannabinoids have shown success in treating some types of pain but may differ in effect and risks from smoked cannabis.

A team of researchers from McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University conducted a randomized controlled trial to investigate the analgesic effect of inhaled cannabis in 21 participants 18 years and older with chronic neuropathic pain. The researchers used three different potencies of active drug (THC levels of 2.5%, 6% and 9.4%) as well as a 0% placebo.

Patients reported better sleep quality as the THC content increased. Anxiety and depression also decreased in the 9.4% THC group compared with the placebo group.

“We found that 25 mg herbal cannabis with 9.4% THC, administered as a single smoked inhalation three times daily for five days, significantly reduces average pain intensity compared with a 0% THC cannabis placebo in adult subjects with chronic post traumatic/post surgical neuropathic pain,” reports lead author Dr. Mark Ware, Director of Clinical Research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit of the MUHC. “We found statistically significant improvements in measures of sleep quality and anxiety.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first outpatient clinical trial of smoked cannabis ever reported,” the authors state. It is one of only a handful of studies on smoked cannabis and neuropathic pain. The authors recommend more studies with higher potencies of THC, longer duration of follow-up and flexible dosing. Long-term safety studies of smoked cannabis for medical purposes are also needed.

In a related commentary http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj100799.pdf, Dr. Henry McQuay of Balliol College, Oxford University, UK, writes “the authors should be congratulated for tackling such a worthwhile question as: does cannabis relieve neuropathic pain?, particularly because the trial must have been a major nightmare to get through the various regulatory hurdles. What makes it a worthwhile question is the continuing publicity that patients see, hear and read, suggesting analgesic activity of cannabis in neuropathic pain, and the paucity of robust evidence.” He concludes that “this trial adds to the trickle of evidence that cannabis may help some of the patients who are struggling at present.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for reporting on this great study. It’s not just smoked marijuana that can help pain, but also topical application too. Doc Green’s Therapeutic Healing Cream is a potent topical lotion containing natural cannabis that can be applied to the skin, effectively decreasing pain, without psychoactive effects. I hope more cannabis patients discover this healing option and visit http://www.docgreens.org for more information.

  2. Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of hypocrisy, incompetence, corruption and human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

    Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us.

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

    By its very nature, prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model – the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous and ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved. Thus the allure of this reliable and lucrative industry with it’s enormous income potential that consistently outweighs the risks associated with the illegal operations that such a trade entails, will remain with us until we are collectively forced to admit the obvious.

    There is therefore an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. Anybody ‘halfway bright’, and who’s not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem, it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand. If you are not capable of understanding this connection then maybe you’re using something far stronger than the rest of us. So put away your pipe, lock yourself away in a small room with some tinned soup and water, and try to crawl back into reality A.S.A.P.

    Because Drug cartels will always have an endless supply of ready cash for wages, bribery and equipment, no amount of tax money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safe again. Only an end to prohibition can do that! How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    If you support the Kool-Aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, tortured corpses, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, economic tribulation, unemployment and the complete loss of the rule of law.

    “A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”
    Abraham Lincoln

    The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation while turning even our schools and prisons into black markets for drugs. Regulation would mean the opposite!

    • Very well put. I wish I was as elegant with the written word as what you have put into type. I also wish more people would get the message.

  3. $113 billion is spent on marijuana every year in the U.S., and because of the prohibition *every* dollar of it goes straight into the hands of criminals. Far from preventing people from using marijuana, the prohibition instead creates zero legal supply amid massive and unrelenting demand.

    According to the ONDCP, two-thirds of the Mexican drug cartel’s money comes from selling marijuana in the U.S., and they protect this cash flow by brutally torturing, murdering and dismembering thousands of innocent people.

    If we can STOP people using marijuana then we need to do so now, but if we can’t then we need to legalize the production and sale of marijuana to adults with after-tax prices set too low for the cartels to match. One way or the other, we have to force the cartels out of the marijuana market and eliminate their highly lucrative marijuana incomes – no business can withstand the loss of two-thirds of its revenue!

    To date, the cartels have amassed more than 100,000 “foot soldiers” and operate in 230 U.S. cities, and the longer they’re able to exploit the prohibition the more powerful they’ll get and the more our own personal security will be put at risk.

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