Chronic pain is one of the hardest conditions to live with and also one of the hardest conditions to prove, since pain can’t exactly be seen visibly in most cases. When it comes to medical marijuana, one of the most common ailments it is used to treat is chronic pain, which can be caused by a number of different factors such as different injuries and illnesses. Often times, cannabis is beneficial to patients for more than one symptom as well, making it a more viable treatment option than several different medications.
Unfortunately, since chronic pain is difficult to properly diagnose and since cannabis studies are particularly hard to come by, there are not very many controlled studies done when it comes to cannabis and pain. Most studies are made up solely on the feedback from patients who are using medical marijuana legally – though it’s the lack of a control that leaves the U.S. government to say we still don’t have enough research.
For this reason, a recently published study on the effects of vaporized cannabis in patients with chronic neuropathic pain is one of few that will lead the way into larger studies in the coming years. A team comprised of investigators at the University of California, San Diego, UC Davis and the Sacramento VA Medical Center evaluated the use of vaporized cannabis to treat neuropathic pain – nerve-related pain that is often present in patients with spinal injuries or illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, MS and HIV.
They did a blind study where patients vaporized cannabis with one of three potencies: 0% THC acting as the placebo, 2.9% THC and also 6.7% THC. The patients would be studied over the course of eight hour experiments where they would start off taking four puffs of vaporized cannabis or a placebo – a second dose of four to eight puffs would be inhaled around three hours after the initial dose and pain relief was determined by a 11 point numerical pain scale, checking with patients prior to treatment and after each dose.
By the end of the study they had determined that cannabis was proving to be beneficial to the patients in this study, who were resistant to more traditional medications such as opioids and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They found that it provided a “significant analgesic response”, and determined that this study would likely give way to future studies on a much grander scale to test their findings here.
While this may not be news to some – like the thousands who treat their chronic pain with cannabis on a daily basis – but it is one more bit of science to confirm what patients have been saying all this time. Studies like these, and the larger ones that come later to confirm findings like this, are extremely important as they not only give a stronger case to legalizing the use of both medicinal and recreational marijuana, but they also give those who were skeptical something solid to believe for the first time since the plant was introduced so many years ago.