Analysis: Plant-Derived Cannabinoids Provide Relief from Neuropathic Pain

Los Angeles, CA: The use of either herbal cannabis or medicines containing plant-derived cannabinoids is associated with significant reductions in patients’ neuropathic pain, according to a review of placebo-controlled clinical trial data published in the Journal of Dental Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

Researchers with the University of Southern California reviewed data from 17 placebo-controlled clinical trials involving 861 neuropathic pain patients. Patients in the trials consumed a variety of cannabis-related products, including whole-plant cannabis, plant-derived cannabis medicines (e.g., Sativex), oral CBD, and/or synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., dronabinol).

Authors reported that patients receiving either whole-plant cannabis containing THC or plant-derived medicines containing both THC and CBD received significant improvements in pain intensity, while subjects administered other cannabinoids (e.g., CBD and CBDV) and/or synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., dronabinol and CT-3) did not. Most commonly reported side-effects among patients in the trials were anxiety, sedation, and dizziness.

Investigators concluded, “THC/CBD and THC interventions provide statistically significant improvements in pain intensity in NP patients and [are] more likely to provide a 30 percent reduction of NP [neuropathic pain] when smoked or vaped at different concentrations (3.56 percent to 9.4 percent THC) or using a spray (THC 2.5-2.7 mg and CBD 2.5 mg per 100mL) compared to placebo. … Additional long-term studies with more uniform study parameters are needed to achieve more clinically relevant recommendations.”

Full text of the study, “Efficacy of cannabis-based medications compared to placebo for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain: A systematic review with meta-analysis,” appears in the Journal of Dental Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. Additional information on the use of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain is available from NORML.