Some studies have shown that marijuana may be useful for treating neuropathic pain (a specific type of chronic pain caused by damaged nerves). However, more research is needed to know if marijuana works better than other options for managing pain. They found that 10 milligrams of THC provided the same pain relief as a 60-milligram (moderately strong) dose of codeine and that 20 milligrams of THC worked as well as 120 milligrams of codeine. People suffering from chronic pain may find mild or moderate short-term relief from using certain prescription cannabis products with higher levels of THC than CBD, but they have some worrying side effects, according to new research.
Since then, it has been used to treat a wide variety of painful conditions, from headache to labor pain. However, after critically reviewing existing research on THC and pain relief, the IOM team concluded that cannabinoids can provide mild or moderate pain relief, as can codeine. On average, the researchers reported, patients who received levonantradol after surgery experienced significantly greater pain relief than those who received the placebo. In these experiments, volunteers who suffered painful blows, heat or pressure from a tourniquet reported that, in fact, THC increased their sensitivity to pain.
On days when patients received the two highest doses, 15 and 20 milligrams of the drug, compared to 0, 5 or 10 milligrams, they reported significant pain relief. Because marijuana is used to treat pain in such diverse circumstances and because the IOM team determined that marijuana appears to be a promising source of painkillers, the next chapter is dedicated to analyzing the results of marijuana and cannabinoids in clinical studies for pain relief. McDonagh, PharmD, from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, said cannabis products seem to be on a par with other pain therapies, even though the evidence on cannabis is weaker. Nabiximoles, a drug with comparable amounts of THC and CBD designed to be sprayed under the tongue, improved pain relief and function to a lesser extent, but also carried a risk of sedation, dizziness and nausea, according to the study published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The participants were exposed to shocks or pressures in a range of intensities, but they were only asked to note when they first felt pain and the maximum intensity of pain they could withstand.
Peripheral nerves that detect pain sensations contain abundant receptors for cannabinoids, and cannabinoids appear to block peripheral nerve pain in experimental animals. However, due to the ethical and logistical difficulties of carrying out pain experiments with human volunteers, the potential of marijuana to alleviate pain has not yet been conclusively confirmed in the clinic. Dr. Clauw, from the department of anesthesiology and the Center for Research on Chronic Pain and Fatigue at the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor, patients with chronic pain may encounter resistance, or even risk being notified, when they ask about products based on cannabis.
Previously, this THC analog had been shown to block pain in animals, so its ability to relieve moderate to severe pain was being tested in cancer patients. Most tested the ability of cannabinoids to alleviate chronic pain in people with cancer or acute pain after surgery or injury.