Cannabinoids are found in and extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. The most famous phytocannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD’s) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is said to have an anti inflammatory effect on animal cells. THC is the psychoactive part of cannabis that causes the “high feeling” many associate with cannabis use.
Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain that is inflicted through nerve injury or toxicity. Neuropathic pain is often unmanageable with conventional prescribed drugs. It is suggested that cannabinoids can fill this refractory void that pharmacotherapies have left open. This paper reviews cannabinoids use for chronic neuropathic pain management.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.
Cannabis has been used as a pain reliever for thousands of years now. The actual mechanism of its effects was not known until cannabinoid receptors were singled out in the 1990’s. Cannabinoid receptors are located in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS allows cannabinoids to work in the body. Releasing cannabinoids is detrimental to pain relief as it impacts pain-related nerve signals.
Cannabinoids are known to suppress hyperalgesia and allodynia. Hyperalgesia is a condition where a patient develops an increased pain sensitivity. Allodynia is a condition where a patient experiences pain without a clear direct cause. This blocking of pain nerve signals is done through primary cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2.
This study highlights that neuronal pain can be controlled by modulating the ECS, through targeting cannabinoid receptors. There have been other clinical studies in the past that have confirmed that cannabinoids have a massive potential in suppressing diverse neuropathic pain in humans. However, not until there are a plethora of large enough studies will we see the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledge the therapeutic benefits
Psychoactive effects of the cannabinoid THC are a challenge for pharmacotherapies.
THC targets the 1st cannabinoid receptor in the brain. This can cause non-serious adverse effects such as dizziness. Stigma around THC alone makes it hard for cannabis to be legalized for pharmacotherapy. Approaches are now being made so that that these unwanted central nervous system (CNS) side effects are kept at a minimum. Most side effects are rare and easily mitigated with a lower dose.
The study suggests that cannabinoids present a huge potential for the treatment of neuropathic pain in humans as a therapeutic agent. Cannabinoids still need to be further studied in humans because long-term effects remain largely unknown.