Study: Vaporized, Low-Potency Cannabis Mitigates Neuropathic Pain

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 3, 2013

    The administration of vaporized, low THC cannabis is associated with reduced pain in subjects with neuropathy, according to clinical trial data published online by The Journal of Pain.

    Investigators at the University of California, Davis Medical Center conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the analgesic efficacy of vaporized cannabis in 39 subjects, the majority of whom were experiencing neuropathic pain despite traditional treatment. Subjects inhaled cannabis of either moderate THC (3.53 percent), low dose THC (1.29 percent), or zero THC (placebo). Subjects continued to take all other concurrent medications as per their normal routine during the 3- to 4-week study period. Spontaneous pain relief, the primary outcome variable, was assessed by asking participants to indicate the intensity of their current pain on a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) between 0 (no pain) and 100 (worst possible pain).

    Researchers reported: “Both the low and medium doses proved to be salutary analgesics for the heterogeneous collection of neuropathic pain conditions studied. Both active study medications provided statistically significant 30% reductions in pain intensity when compared to placebo.”

    They concluded: “Both the 1.29% and 3.53% vaporized THC study medications produced equal antinociception at every time point. … [T]he use of low doses could potentially be prescribed by physicians interested in helping patients use cannabis effectively while minimizing cognitive and psychological side effects. Viewed with this in mind, the present study adds to a growing body of literature supporting the use of cannabis for the treatment of neuropathic pain. It provides additional evidence of the efficacy of vaporized cannabis as well as establishes low-dose cannabis (1.29%) as having a favorable risk-benefit ratio.”

    Previous clinical trials have indicated that inhaled cannabis can safety and effectively relieve various types of pain, particularly neuropathy — a hard-to-treat nerve condition often associated with cancer, HIV, spinal cord injury, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. These include the following double-blind, placebo-controlled (FDA gold-standard) studies:

    Ware et al. 2010. Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ 182: 694-701.

    Wilsey et al. 2008. A randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of cannabis cigarettes in neuropathic pain. Journal of Pain 9: 506-521.

    Ellis et al. 2008. Smoked medicinal cannabis for neuropathic pain in HIV: a randomized, crossover clinical trial. Neuropsychopharmacology 34: 672-80.

    Abrams et al. 2007. Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Neurology 68: 515-521.

    Wallace et al. 2007. Dose-dependent Effects of Smoked Cannabis on Capsaicin-induced Pain and Hyperalgesia in Healthy Volunteers Anesthesiology 107: 785-796.

    Separate clinical trial data also reports that inhaled “cannabis augments the analgesic effect of opioids” and therefore “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer side effects.”

    Since 1999, US sales of opiate drugs have tripled in number and in 2010, a record-setting 254 million prescriptions for opioids were filled in the United States — enough to medicate every American adult around the clock for a month. (In particular, the manufacturing of the drug Oxycodone has increased from 8.3 tons in 1997 to 105 tons in 2011, an increase of 1,200 percent.) Overdose deaths from the use of prescription painkillers are also now at record levels, totaling some 15,000 annually — more than triple the total a decade ago.

    Full text of the study, “Low-dose vaporized cannabis significantly improves neuropathic pain,” appears in The Journal of Pain.

    48 Responses to “Study: Vaporized, Low-Potency Cannabis Mitigates Neuropathic Pain”

    1. Thankfully studies such as these are already on the books, which should expedite the usage of Marijuana for nerve pain, notorious of being non-responsive to other pain medications, should the government ever get it going and legalize the its use for medical purposes.
      What a fantastic feeling to no longer have the feeling of a million little needles being stuck in your hand and feet/legs. Maybe we sufferers will be allowed to find out some day.

      See the link for “Opposition to Kentucky HB 1-Reform HB 217 aka “Pill Mill Bill”

    2. […] institute is funding a University of California at Davis study on whether vaporized cannabis can treat neuropathic pain from spinal-cord injuries, and has agreed […]

    3. […] institute is funding a University of California at Davis study on whether vaporized cannabis can treat neuropathic pain from spinal-cord injuries, and has agreed […]

    4. Mark Beard says:

      Has anyone in this group joined Kannaway? They are promoting a high grade CBD the people I have brought in are loving it!! Any feed back from anyone that has joined? They are promoting a CBD legal in all 50 states and are structured as a New MLM Hemp program. Fro more info go to http://www.thebuzzlaunch.com/1065032

      Mark Beard

    5. Phil says:

      Now, or soon, completely legal for recreational use (as well as medical use) in my home state of Washington. Colorado as well, I think. The rest of the country will catch on eventually.

    6. Bob says:

      Well, I agree with all of this. My mother had terrible neuropathy her last 6 months before she died of cancer. I offered her the legal option of cannabis but she was reluctant due to her age and the stigma. So now I am trying to grow high CBD meds and work with local doctors who have patients with AIDS and serious neuropathy. I have to work in a grey area of the law, but am allowed 4 plants. It is a serious issue that needs some brave people to come alongside patients and work with doctors who cant get too involved. By the way I am 50, and a commited Christian. I do not like the stoner image either, and want to help break that mold and make this medicine available to all who really need it.

    7. Type 1 Diabetic says:

      I’m a Type 1 Diabetic who has been battling neuropathy for the last four years in my feet/legs/hips. It also causes back pain/spasms. I’ve been on methadone/oxycodone/lamictal/topamax/baclafen and just can’t take it anymore. The data is so conflicting and not to offend anyone I find a lot of the problem is the people who just want to smoke pot make it hard for the people who need medical marijuana. The opiates make me feel like a drug addict every time I take them, yet I’m freaking out about trying MM – because of how you have to acquire it. Even though it’s medically legal where I’m at it such a process and I don’t know if it will work. My pain Dr says it does have merit, but she’s against it because she feels it makes you dumb. Like synthetic herion makes you smart? This is the worst situation I never thought I’d find myself in. My mom just died of non smoking lung cancer so I’m not too up on smoking – does any one have knowledge of eating “hash” and if it works the same. I know from research it makes it stronger, but does it help the same way or is it different? Any advise suggestions that might make my situation easier to find and bare would help.

    8. Gordo says:

      Would like to ask the 61 yr old cancer survived what amount of cannabis she uses and in what firm to help her chemo induced peripheral nueropathy. I have tha condition also from chemo. Please pass on some info. Thanks

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