Montreal, Canada: Cannabis is associated with sustained reductions in cancer pain and may be safely incorporated in cancer patients’ treatment regimens, according to data published in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.
Canadian researchers affiliated with McGill University assessed the safety and efficacy of plant-derived cannabis in 358 cancer patients. Study participants consumed cannabis as an adjunctive treatment for one year.
Subjects experienced statistically significant decreases in pain within three months. Patients maintained their pain relief throughout the study. Participants who consumed cannabis flower containing nearly equal percentages of THC and CBD experienced greatest relief.
Although some patients reported side-effects from cannabis, most of these episodes were categorized as “non-serious.” Patients were most likely to report experiencing sleepiness or fatigue.
Investigators reported: “We found MC [medical cannabis] to be a safe and effective treatment option to help with cancer pain relief. THC/CBD balanced products appear to perform better as compared with THC-dominant and CBD-dominant products. Furthermore, we observed consistent decreases in medication burden and opioid use in our patient population. Hence, our data suggest a role for MC as a safe and complementary treatment option in patients with cancer failing to reach adequate pain relief through conventional analgesics, such as opioids.”
Dozens of studies document decreases in patients’ consumption of opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription medications following their use of cannabis.
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 severe treatment-resistant neuropathy (nerve pain). A 2017 review 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, “Medical cannabis is effective for cancer-related pain: Quebec Cannabis Registry results,” appears in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Additional information on cannabis and chronic pain is available from NORML’s publication, Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids.