Over Two-Dozen Controlled Trials Demonstrate Cannabinoids’ “Statistically Significant Pain Relieving Effects”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 7, 2012

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

    Cannabis and its active constituents appear to be safe and modestly effective treatments in patients suffering from a variety of chronic pain conditions, including neuropathy (pain due to nerve damage), according to a literature review to be published in The Clinical Journal of Pain.

    An investigator from New York University, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, conducted a PubMed search to survey the percentage of positive and negative published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing cannabinoids as treatments for pain. Of the 56 hits generated, 38 published RCTs met inclusion criteria. Of these, “71 percent (27) concluded that cannabinoids had empirically demonstrable and statistically significant pain relieving effects, whereas 29 percent (11) did not.”

    Cannabinoids appeared to be most effective in treating hard-to-treat neuropathic pain conditions. “[F]or notoriously difficult to treat conditions such as HIV neuropathy, … cannabinergic pain medicines, particularly inhaled cannabinoid botanicals, are one of the only treatments that have been shown to be safe and effective with the highest levels of evidence,” the review states.

    Five to ten percent of the US population is estimated to suffer from neuropathic pain at some point during their lives.

    The study concludes, “Overall, based on the existing clinical trials database, cannabinergic pain medicines have been shown to be modestly effective and safe treatments in patients with a variety of chronic pain conditions. … Incorporating cannabinergic medicine topics into pain medicine education seems warranted and continuing clinical research and empiric treatment trials are appropriate.”

    A separate paper, published in January in the Harm Reduction Journal, concluded: “Prescribing cannabis in place of opioids for neuropathic pain may reduce the morbidity and mortality rates associated with prescription pain medications and may be an effective harm reduction strategy.”

    Full text of the study, “Cannabinergic pain medicine: A concise clinical primer and survey of randomized controlled trial results,” will appear in The Clinical Journal of Pain.

    34 responses to “Over Two-Dozen Controlled Trials Demonstrate Cannabinoids’ “Statistically Significant Pain Relieving Effects””

    1. Capt Nemo says:

      Now, to get it off the schedule one classification, and let more clinical trials and experiments be conducted to really see how magnificent this God given plant can really do for the human race. Take a stand folks, if we all come together, we can make this happen, soon!

    2. Orbmanelson says:

      This comes as no surprise to those who understand that the human body contains a Cannabinoid system, which is a biological regulatory system. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid. The idea that Cannabinoids are somehow foreign to the human body is to deny the very structure of the most elemental aspects of our biology. It would be like saying that there is no need for hormones or the practice of Endocrinology. We can not just subtract an entire biological system from the human body to please those who do not wish to acknowledge the deep connection between various psychoactive plants and our existence. Western mans defiant ignorance that everything can be “fixed” in the laboratory with (modern?) chemistry demonstrates a near complete lack of respect and appreciation for the wonders of the natural world; as well the marvelous interconnectedness of these fundamental natural plant medicines have played throughout human history. Modern Psycho-chemistry has demonstrated time and again it’s utter failure to come up with real cures for problems like depression and anxiety and produces side-effect laden products which do far much more harm than good. These psychiatric chemicals are merely overly simplistic fundamental abstractions which do not fit the complexity of our human bodies. Cannabinoids not only “key in” to our physiology, they naturally facilitate healing and bring great comfort to those who suffer from aging and injury. Modern science will not be able to deny the ultimate value of cannabinoids or other natural psychoactive plant materials much longer, for the value of cannabinoids in reducing or eliminating cancerous tumors has already been proven. What other manifold treatments lay sleeping within these wonderful natural healing plants. It should be noted that there is a distinct difference between corporate science and “real or natural science.” The former is aligned with profit motivation the truth be dammed, while the latter is consistently and undeniably a matter of factual connection between our DNA and the world which has supported all of humankind and the web of life for eons. In the end this is not even a matter of plants vs chemistry, it is a matter of corporate political interests, denying the absolute value of natural plants which can provide us with textiles, fuel, medicine, food, paper, erosion control and countless other benefits.
      This war on drugs is not about morality, it is about the controlling and distribution of “illegal” drugs for profit and further the racial targeting of minorities as criminals who are subsequently arrested only to be used as free prison labor communities.
      While these wondrous compounds which bring us relief and comfort are made illegal, tobacco containing dangerous carcinogens, which cause deadly cancer is freely available from coast to coast.
      Lastly, our nations Veterans Administration freely distributes addictive narcotics for neuropathic pain control and routinely tests veterans for Cannabis use.

      David L. Nelson

    3. Don Alfera says:

      I can only say how wonderful it is the refrences made to specific neuropathic pain relief in specific situations and health conditions. The comment that further studies are in order based on the results here only add frustration. How many tests before we take the action necessary to let the people who need this the most, those people can get ready access. Excellent review of the studies.

    4. Anonymous says:

      it has been the best thing i have ever used for pain

    5. Chris says:

      Its a wonderful treatment for glaucoma too.

    6. Jbkorn02 says:

      Impossoble. Thats not what Obama says

    7. Grace says:

      Medicinal Marijuana: Let My People Smoke. An educational post about medicinal marijuana with Stats and quotes backing it. Please feel free to comment on the post and bring your opinions to the table whatever they may be 🙂 Thank you!

      READ HERE! http://carolynapsey.blogspot.com/2012/03/medicinal-marijuana-let-my-people-smoke.html

    8. Galileo Galilei says:

      WOW! All we need to do now is inform the federal government.

    9. Mark Barnett says:

      Please retry to tell these things over again ’till the Feds give in under too much pressure from our scientific facts, not their idealogy!

    10. Chris_Hill321 says:

      But wait… I thought it had no medicinal value??