The recent research on cannabinoids, from the cannabis plant, further demonstrates their analgesic (pain relieving) effects. The cannabinoids effects are implemented in the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is an internal (endo) bodily system that when balanced offers the body homeostasis in relation to hormones, neurons, and organ functions. The article reviews randomized clinical trials on using cannabinoids for the treatment of pain.
Cannabis-derived Sativex® is an oromucosal spray. It was approved in Canada, in 2005, for treatment of central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis (MS). In 2007, it was approved for treating intractable cancer pain. Nabilone (Cesamet®) and Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, Marinol®) are currently approved in the United States and other countries, but not for pain relief..
Sativex® contains an equal ratio of THC and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC and CBD are the most famous compounds in the cannabis plant. They are the most commonly used for medicinal purposes. Many randomized clinical trials have shown the safety and efficacy of Sativex in treating central and peripheral neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer pain.
In January 2006, an investigational new drug application for conducting clinical trials regarding cancer pain was approved. As of now, cannabis is still not approved for use as a cancer treatment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cannabinoids have been well-tolerated in clinical trials and have few to no significant adverse side effects.
Chronic pain is an emerging public health issue, particularly regarding aging populations in industrialized nations. In Europe, debilitating chronic musculoskeletal pain affects over one in four elderly people. In Australia, over half of older people suffer from persistent pain and, in nursing home populations, up to 80%. Responses to an ABC News poll in the USA indicated that 19% of adults have chronic pain, and 6% have utilized cannabis in attempts to treat it.
Cannabinoids addition for treatment of pain shows great promise. The study reviews recent research on the analgesic effects of cannabinoids through the ECS. Other synthetic cannabinoids, such as ajulemic acid, are in development.
Crude herbal cannabis remains illegal in most jurisdictions but is also under investigation. If you are interested in using cannabis to treat chronic pain, you should first and foremost consult your doctor. You will also need to be a state with legal medical cannabis and get a proper prescription.