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Study Finds Cannabis Extract Effective For Refractory Chronic Pain Patients


The most common health condition that people use cannabis to treat is pain. Patients can experience pain for any number of reasons, and to varying degrees of severity. For some patients the pain is only temporary, and medical cannabis helps during flare ups.

For others, pain can be so common in their lives that the pain becomes chronic, and in the worst cases, the pain can prove to be completely debilitating and not able to be treated by pharmaceutical medications (refractory chronic pain).

Pharmaceutical medications geared towards treating pain, even when they work, are often extremely addictive and the use of them can cause major health issues, including death. Cannabinoids alone, on the other hand, have never killed anyone in recorded human history, and in the cases of some patients with refractory chronic pain, the use of medical cannabis is very effective.

That was demonstrated in a recent study focusing on medical cannabis and refractory chronic pain out of Australia. Below is more information about it via a news release from NORML:

Sydney, Australia: The administration of cannabis extracts containing equal quantities of THC and CBD is associated with reduced pain intensity and improved sleep in patients with chronic refractory pain conditions, according to data published in the journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids.

Australian investigators assessed the safety and efficacy of whole-plant cannabis oil in a cohort of 151 chronic pain patients. Participants in the trial used the extract daily for at least three months. All of the subjects in the trial suffered from conditions that were unresponsive to conventional analgesics, such as opioids and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Trial subjects were most likely to be diagnosed with neuropathy, musculoskeletal pain, or arthritis.

Researchers reported, “Pain impact scores were significantly reduced across the cohort. Additionally, most subjects reported improvements in sleep disturbances and fatigue.” The majority of side-effects reported by patients were categorized as mild; these most frequently included sleepiness, dizziness, and dry-mouth.

They concluded: “This analysis presents real-world data collected as part of standard of care. … The results of this study demonstrated a significantly positive effect of [a proprietary formulation of] oral medicinal cannabis oil on the impact of pain. … Amelioration of the impact of pain confirms continued prescribing of this formulation and validates our observational methodology as a tool to determine the therapeutic potency of medicinal cannabinoids.”

Survey data estimate that nearly one-third of patients suffering from chronic pain conditions acknowledge using cannabis products. Among patients in US states where medical cannabis access is permitted, over 60 percent are qualified to use it to treat pain.

Full text of the study, “Medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic refractory pain: An investigation of the adverse event profile and health-related quality of life impact of an oral formulation,” appears in Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Additional information about marijuana for pain is available from NORML.