A new Canadian research study reports that smoking high-THC cannabis reduces neuropathic pain. This recently-published report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that smoking marijuana, or "pot," can reduce symptoms of pain, improve mood, and aid sleep in patients with chronic neuropathic pain. However, this study actually provides only a smidgen of valid evidence and much more research is needed before patients are advised to "light up" for better pain relief.
It is known that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, binds with opiate receptors in the brain. So, it should come as no surprise that the qualitatively higher THC content in this study results in significant pain reduction. That the participants report a feeling of "caring less" about their pain might present an added effect, which should be further studied.
Another area of interest is whether oral THC (Marinol) has the same beneficial effect. Many people today use Marinol off-label for chronic nociceptive and neuropathic pain. An obvious area of interest for future research should be to explore any difference in efficacy between inhaled and ingested THC. A confounding factor might be the dozens of chemicals that enter the bloodstream when cannabis is smoked, compared with the single chemical associated with ingestion (THC). It is possible that some of the added chemicals associated with inhaling the drug are also beneficial to pain relief. And, of course, inhaled THC reaches peak plasma level much more swiftly than ingested THC. Might this alter the patient's perception of the quality of pain relief?
Tens of thousands of people have reported a decrease in pain associated with cannabis intake. This study only reinforces that belief. Unfortunately, this study used a rather small population. While the number of participants, particularly those using the highest THC content remains low, the results still appear statistically significant to some extent. Hopefully, future research will use much larger populations and will attend to the efficacy of oral THC, in addition to the inhaled option.
if only it were legal here in virginia. it is in maryland.... maybe i need to find still another doc! currently i know of a pain patient who self-medicated with homegrown variety and is now facing jail sentence. sad, isn't it?
I live in Missouri, and with all the Baptist, I find it almost imposable that it would ever be approved, for medicinal use. I can remember when not a single store was allowed to be open on Sundays, grocery stores included. Yet it has all changed now (thank God), they even changed the law that did not allow alcohol to be purchased on Election Day, like that would change your mind about who to vote for (lol). Lee
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
The opinions expressed in WebMD Communities are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Communities are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.
Do not consider Communities as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.