A new meta-analysis on cannabis shows that cannabinoids are helpful to relieve acute pain in patients in comparison with placebo cases. Although the use of cannabis has been associated with undesirable effects but no such adversity was reported while testing a safe usage of cannabinoids for treating patients in acute pain, says the new study.
The complete findings of this study are published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research as “Cannabinoids in the Management of Acute Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis”.
This study is a collaborative effort between Herman Johal from McMaster University, Canada and Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Thunder Bay.
This study was completed in six trials, out of which, five trials were based on the oral use of cannabinoids. Only one trial was set with intramuscular use of cannabinoids. There was a huge size difference between these two routes of administering the cannabinoids.
The intramuscular usage of cannabinoids showed better and more significant results in pain relief as compared to the placebo patients. However, there was hardly any difference of results between oral administration of cannabinoids with the placebo cases.
Daniele Piomelli from the School of Medicine of University of California-Irvine writes that:
“The usefulness of cannabis-derived medicines in the treatment of pain, both acute and chronic, is still vigorously debated. The meta-analysis conducted in this study reinforces the need for more rigorous studies to assess whether cannabis might be effective in the treatment of acute pain conditions.”
The previous studies on cannabis have also looked upon its analgesic effect. Some of them used the cannabis plant as a whole and some were targeted to its various parts. For some reason, the specific studies on plant parts showed better results and more specific actions of one certain ingredient than the plant as a whole.
For example, a study form 2015 studied the effect of marijuana and cannabinoids on treating different types of pain. The results verified its potential to treat this pain particularly the neuropathic pain or nerve pain.
Similarly, another study from 2016 revealed that it can even relieve cancer-related pain by 64% and thus improves the quality of life of the cancer patients. This study also looked upon the side effects typically associated with the cannabis plants and found them to be lower than the side effects of medicines.
A study by the researchers from Australia in 2018 found that using medical cannabis doesn’t actually reduce the pain but this study was based on people who used cannabis plants for recreational purposes and not for medicinal usage.
The U.S FDA has only approved medical use of cannabis and that too with safe usage practices. Usually, medical cannabis is used in treating severe cases of epilepsy and seizures that are otherwise not controlled with medicines alone. One particular drug of epilepsy that uses pure CBD and is FDA-approved is named Epidiolex.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved some medicines that use a synthetic cannabinoid for example “dronabinol” (Marinol) and “nabilone” (Cesamet). These two medicines are given to cancer patients or HIV infected patients.
Till this date, FDA has not approved any cannabis-based medicine or supplement for pain relief. There are certain risks involved with its safety measures which is why any pain-relieving medicine, approved by FDA and commonly available is still far far away. However, researches like this show that the researchers are close to finding a safe medicinal plant for treating pain with cannabis-based medicines.
Yet there remains a question on the efficacy of opioids for treating pain that in the long term, often show side effects. The medical cannabis works similar or sometimes better than the otherwise addictive opioids. However, the side effects of cannabis are lesser than opioids. But its mainly the regulation of dosage, quality, and the administration that causes these undesirable effects to how up. It suggests that there should be more research on determining the safe dose for patients that is effective but completely free from the side effects i.e. addiction.