Research shows that patients with chronic pain experience sustained improvements in cannabis use
Chronic pain patients who used cannabis saw sustained improvement in their condition over time, according to the results of a recently published study. A summary of the research: “No pain, everyone wins? Interim analyzes from a longitudinal observational study examining the effects of medical cannabis treatment on chronic pain and related symptoms “were posted online last month prior to publication in the journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
To complete the study, researchers working with Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Boston evaluated the use of medical cannabis (MC) in patients with chronic pain, most of whom had either musculoskeletal pain or neuropathy. Patients were assessed for factors such as pain, clinical condition, sleep, quality of life, and conventional drug use before starting treatment and after three and six months of medicinal cannabis use. The data showed continued improvement in participants’ symptoms.
“Compared to baseline, MC patients showed an improvement in pain after 3 and 6 months of treatment, which was accompanied by improvements in sleep, mood, anxiety and quality of life, as well as stable conventional drug use,” the researchers wrote. “Reduced pain was associated with improvements in mood and anxiety aspects.”
Different effects for THC, CBD
The study also found possible differences in the effects of increased exposure to the cannabinoids THC and CBD on various symptoms experienced by the participants. “The results underscore the potential effectiveness of MC treatment for pain and underscore the unique influence of individual cannabinoids on certain aspects of pain and comorbid symptoms. “
“The results generally suggest that increased THC exposure is related to pain-related improvement, while increased CBD exposure is related to improved mood,” they added.
In a statement on the research, the National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana Act (NORML) found that many subjects in the study reduced their opioid use during the research period, albeit not to a statistically significant extent. The researchers wrote that their “results are promising as they underscore previous survey studies that also reported reduced use of conventional drugs, particularly opioids, after starting MC treatment.”
More research needed For chronic pain
The researchers also looked at patients with similar chronic pain conditions who did not use medicinal cannabis to treat their symptoms during the study period. The researchers wrote that the data from these patients “did not show a similar pattern of improvement as the MC patients in terms of pain measurements or clinical measures between baseline and follow-up”.
“The results suggest that MC could be an effective complementary therapeutic strategy for chronic pain and related symptoms for at least a subset of patients,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion. “Future studies are needed to collect data that could ultimately help clinicians make specific recommendations for MC treatment regimens that are optimized for pain relief.”
NORML’s press release also noted that a separate study published earlier this year found that most patients in the United States seeking a recommendation on medical cannabis use were most likely to report chronic pain. This study was published in February by the Journal of Cannabis Research.