Saarbrücken, Germany: The use of cannabis-based medicinal products is associated with significant decreases in pain and prescription drug use among patients suffering from chronic pain, according to data published in the German science journal Schmerz.
A team of German researchers assessed the efficacy of cannabis-based medicines in a cohort of 187 pain patients.
Over 88 percent of patients reported experiencing either significant or moderate improvements in their overall condition following the initiation of cannabis therapy. Participating physicians reported that 61 percent of the study’s participants achieved “substantial pain relief,” 66 percent achieved better sleep, and 34 percent achieved improvements in their mental well-being.
Among those subjects who were taking prescription medications at the onset of the study, 65 percent ceased their use of opioids, 60 percent stopped using antidepressants, and 58 percent ceased their use of anticonvulsants – a finding that is consistent with numerous other studies.
Authors concluded: “CbMs [cannabis-based medicines] can contribute to a clinically relevant reduction in pain, sleep problems and muscle tension and can improve daily functioning in carefully selected and supervised patients with chronic pain. CbM can contribute to the reduction or complete cessation of other pain medications (antidepressants, anticonvulsants, opioids).”
Data published earlier this month in the journal JAMA Network Open reports that nearly one in four pain patients residing in states where medical cannabis access is legal self-identify as marijuana consumers.
Numerous placebo-controlled trials document the ability of either inhaled or vaporized herbal cannabis to significantly mitigate pain in various patient populations, including those suffering from HIV, diabetes, spinal cord injury, or with severe treatment-resistant neuropathy (nerve pain). These positive results have been replicated in clinical trials utilizing relatively low doses of cannabis as well as in trials using plant-derived cannabis extracts.
A 2017 report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain, stating, “Patients who [are] treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.”
Full text of the study, “Benefits and harms of cannabis-based medicines from the viewpoints of patients with chronic pain and their physicians: A cohort study in three pain centers of the German federal state of Saarland,” appears in Schmerz. Additional information on cannabis and pain management is available from NORML’s publication, Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Further information is also available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’