According to Canadian researchers, it only takes three puffs of marijuana to feel less nerve pain. A new study shows that cannabis was effective in treating a variety of chronic nerve pains, including those from an injury or surgery and it also helped with sleep. Researcher Mark Ware, MD, was already familiar with the treatment, saying 10-15% of patients at their chronic pain clinic use cannabis to manage their pain. Without proper research, however, those results were just anecdotal.
Ware, a professor at Montreal’s McGill University, took a more scientific approach to seeing if it works. The researcher, who specializes in anesthesia and family medicine, conducted a clinical trial comparing placebo to three different cannabis doses. The trial was published in CMAJ, the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Experts say this study further adds to the growing body of evidence that marijuana is an effective pain treatment.
What the Study Said
The study examined 21 adults, both male and female, with neuropathic pain (chronic nerve pain). The average age of the participants was 45. The most common scenario was a cut nerve during a proceeding knee surgery. That damaged nerve then caused chronic pain following the surgery.
The participants were given three potencies of THC: 2.5% THC, 6% THC and 9.4% THC and a placebo. Over a two-month period, each member used all four strengths. The cannabis and placebo were placed in gelatin capsules on a rotating basis, and study participants were never told which one they were using.
The capsules were smoked in a pipe, with the participant inhaling into their lungs for five seconds, holding the smoke in for 10 seconds. This single puff was repeated three times daily over five days per potency. The participants continued taking their usual pain medications during the trial.
After five days puffing on the same potency, participants ranked their pain levels on a scale of 0 to 10. Ten was considered the most pain. 9.4% THC provided the most relief, dropping the number down to 5.4. Placebo took it to 6.4. This may not seem like much pain improvement, but study leader, Ware says, “any reduction in pain is important.”
Plus, most people will use more THC than administered in the trial, as 9.4% is lower than average legal and illegal marijuana THC concentrations. The average amount of THC sold is 10%-15%.
Ware believes that marijuana relieves pain by altering how nerves function. He also believes his study proves marijuana has medical value because it can be used for pain relief.
There were some adverse side effects. Participants reported a headache, cough, numbness, a burning sensation where the pain occurs, and dry eyes.
A Second Opinion
Some medical professionals believe that the amount of pain relief indicated in the trial was not significant enough to make a difference. While it may help some people who cannot otherwise find pain relief, it’s not enough to replace current medications. However, many of these professionals are also compensated by pharmaceutical companies.