Over Two-Dozen Controlled Trials Demonstrate Cannabinoids’ “Statistically Significant Pain Relieving Effects”

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

Cannabis and its active constituents appear to be safe and modestly effective treatments in patients suffering from a variety of chronic pain conditions, including neuropathy (pain due to nerve damage), according to a literature review to be published in The Clinical Journal of Pain.

An investigator from New York University, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, conducted a PubMed search to survey the percentage of positive and negative published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing cannabinoids as treatments for pain. Of the 56 hits generated, 38 published RCTs met inclusion criteria. Of these, “71 percent (27) concluded that cannabinoids had empirically demonstrable and statistically significant pain relieving effects, whereas 29 percent (11) did not.”

Cannabinoids appeared to be most effective in treating hard-to-treat neuropathic pain conditions. “[F]or notoriously difficult to treat conditions such as HIV neuropathy, … cannabinergic pain medicines, particularly inhaled cannabinoid botanicals, are one of the only treatments that have been shown to be safe and effective with the highest levels of evidence,” the review states.

Five to ten percent of the US population is estimated to suffer from neuropathic pain at some point during their lives.

The study concludes, “Overall, based on the existing clinical trials database, cannabinergic pain medicines have been shown to be modestly effective and safe treatments in patients with a variety of chronic pain conditions. … Incorporating cannabinergic medicine topics into pain medicine education seems warranted and continuing clinical research and empiric treatment trials are appropriate.”

A separate paper, published in January in the Harm Reduction Journal, concluded: “Prescribing cannabis in place of opioids for neuropathic pain may reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications and may be an effective harm reduction strategy.”

Full text of the study, “Cannabinergic pain medicine: A concise clinical primer and survey of randomized controlled trial results,” will appear in The Clinical Journal of Pain.

34 thoughts

  1. Now, to get it off the schedule one classification, and let more clinical trials and experiments be conducted to really see how magnificent this God given plant can really do for the human race. Take a stand folks, if we all come together, we can make this happen, soon!

  2. This comes as no surprise to those who understand that the human body contains a Cannabinoid system, which is a biological regulatory system. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid. The idea that Cannabinoids are somehow foreign to the human body is to deny the very structure of the most elemental aspects of our biology. It would be like saying that there is no need for hormones or the practice of Endocrinology. We can not just subtract an entire biological system from the human body to please those who do not wish to acknowledge the deep connection between various psychoactive plants and our existence. Western mans defiant ignorance that everything can be “fixed” in the laboratory with (modern?) chemistry demonstrates a near complete lack of respect and appreciation for the wonders of the natural world; as well the marvelous interconnectedness of these fundamental natural plant medicines have played throughout human history. Modern Psycho-chemistry has demonstrated time and again it’s utter failure to come up with real cures for problems like depression and anxiety and produces side-effect laden products which do far much more harm than good. These psychiatric chemicals are merely overly simplistic fundamental abstractions which do not fit the complexity of our human bodies. Cannabinoids not only “key in” to our physiology, they naturally facilitate healing and bring great comfort to those who suffer from aging and injury. Modern science will not be able to deny the ultimate value of cannabinoids or other natural psychoactive plant materials much longer, for the value of cannabinoids in reducing or eliminating cancerous tumors has already been proven. What other manifold treatments lay sleeping within these wonderful natural healing plants. It should be noted that there is a distinct difference between corporate science and “real or natural science.” The former is aligned with profit motivation the truth be dammed, while the latter is consistently and undeniably a matter of factual connection between our DNA and the world which has supported all of humankind and the web of life for eons. In the end this is not even a matter of plants vs chemistry, it is a matter of corporate political interests, denying the absolute value of natural plants which can provide us with textiles, fuel, medicine, food, paper, erosion control and countless other benefits.
    This war on drugs is not about morality, it is about the controlling and distribution of “illegal” drugs for profit and further the racial targeting of minorities as criminals who are subsequently arrested only to be used as free prison labor communities.
    While these wondrous compounds which bring us relief and comfort are made illegal, tobacco containing dangerous carcinogens, which cause deadly cancer is freely available from coast to coast.
    Lastly, our nations Veterans Administration freely distributes addictive narcotics for neuropathic pain control and routinely tests veterans for Cannabis use.

    David L. Nelson

  3. I can only say how wonderful it is the refrences made to specific neuropathic pain relief in specific situations and health conditions. The comment that further studies are in order based on the results here only add frustration. How many tests before we take the action necessary to let the people who need this the most, those people can get ready access. Excellent review of the studies.

  4. Please retry to tell these things over again ’till the Feds give in under too much pressure from our scientific facts, not their idealogy!

  5. PAT ROBERTSON ENDORSES THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA in colorado and washington this november. the 700 club dawg. peace everyone

  6. I have 1 arm and 1 leg, nerve damage, phantom limb pain and Cannabis, (GOD’S PLANT) is the only thing that helps with all that pain so I can function all day long. Pain and suffering is horrible, can’t sit still, can’t sleep, move around constantly without God’s plant! Synthetics don’t have all of God’s value in this wonderful cannabis plant that grows all over the world.

  7. “All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the
    Challenge of science is to find it.” Philippus Theophrastrus Bombast that of Aureolus Paracelsus (1493-1541)

    Guess What? the people found it in the Cannabis plant until science, the corporations and the government they control stop being dirty and greedy we will all suffer.

  8. I, know with a savere case of scoliosis pot helps helps out a lot more then the drugs that the doctor gives me. I, can only hope that the goverment would wake up and legalize pot. It’s a win, win deal.

  9. Hmm… I have a herniated disk that when its bad and swollen, I get bad sciatica and can’t sit for more than a half hour and can’t stand for more than a couple minutes. It had been gone for a while but about 8 months ago I got in a mild car accident and a couple other catastrophic events to it and I was bedridden! I was taking between 8 and 12 Vicodin a day (which is a LOT of APAP for your liver)( and before you trolls try to make me feel bad, I know a lot of people have it worse, just telling my story), to make the pain slightly bearable. A couple months in I rediscovered cannabis! My Vic intake went down by half and with the non-reactive combo my pain level went lower than Vic alone. I think it was cannabis that has me healed to the point that I again am rid of my sciatica.

  10. As we get older the aches and pains start setting in and relief is only a toke away. This is a battle between NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC and the FEDERAL DEATH AUTHORITY approved drugs which by the way injure and kill people. When you have side effects just dial 1-800-BAD DRUG and take care of business with a law suit. BIG PHARMA sets aside funds for court action but in the end they still make their profits. Another pain I have is MARIJUANA PROHIBITION and the stupidity of unjust laws and enforcement by the DEAD END ATROCITIES. I am still amazed on how a plant that can help millions of people with a natural therapy than a synthetic be treated like we are sub-human. The 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS on the WITCH HUNT for marijuana users cause a lot of pain and the pain of our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS being eroded by the corrupt system of FEDERALISM. Now pain comes in a NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC form. When will the pain end and see MARIJUANA PROHIBITION come to an end? HAIL TO THE MONARCHY! RON PAUL IN 2012!

  11. Hey buggsy just want to know if you think federalism is eroding our constitutional rights, then may I ask why you are advocating a federalist (Ron Paul)? Just wondering….

    Gary Johnson 2012!

  12. P-A-I-N Tried it your way,now it’s my turn to get relief GODS way. As long as i get pain relief i will do so. Man has failed me long enough.

  13. i have had 8 procedures in 53 years of livin including two spinal and one neck for disc removal. i never filled prescriptions for pain. just a small amount of cannabis every couple hours or so was the shiznit folks. sure, i could feel it. unless your sleeping, yer gonna feel the discomfort. but my good spirits and a little pain relief made these times very tolerable. i saved ins. alot of money. ive taken the pain meds prescribed to me in the past.what a nasty feeling i had plus pain was still uncomfortable.what the hell good is that besides making the pharmacy a little richer….peace to you all…

  14. I feel like I finally came out of the closet,I can finally talk about Marijuana in the public eye.
    I am watching Dr Drew right now and they are talking about Medical Marijuana has taken his 3 yr old from death to remission.

  15. Hello everyone!
    Question, how is that so? From my experience, some people that are using marijuana will look for much higher types of narcotics/substance to use. Is that possible or true?

  16. Morgan, your experience isn’t inaccurate, per se, but please don’t confuse correlation with causation. Experimentation, the environment you are raised, and (as this is an article on medical use for MJ’s pain relieving effect) seeking powerful, even soul numbing, pain relief that can only be found by abusive amounts of true narcotics are some real CAUSATIONS. The only way you can adequately argue marijuana as a direct causation is by presenting the fact that it is in fact an illegal drug that our impressionable youth is terribly misinformed about; therefor, once tried that same misinformed, impressionable youth may feel they have been lied to by Uncle Sam, so will seek experimentation of / abuse other illegal drugs as they cannot trust them to be “bad drugs” just because the government (and its funded programs) say they are… Well I guess even then the unjustifiable prohibition of this plant that’s only crime is making people slightly less smart (downright stupid sometimes) and far more tranquil (tho in a non-docile way, which is why I think gov’s hate it so much, because it makes people think about something in a slightly different light), is the true direct causation there too…

Leave a Reply