Several studies report on the benefits of cannabis use for chronic pain. According to some research, it is as effective as opioids, which are among the most potent analgesic drugs. The side effects of cannabis use are usually minimal, especially compared to the side effects of opioids. The authors do not disclose whether all patients taking the THC analog felt its effects to some extent or if some people received great relief, while others found that it had little or no effect on postoperative pain.
Participants were exposed to shock or pressure in a range of intensities, but were only asked to note when they first felt pain and the maximum intensity of pain they could endure. They found that 10 milligrams of THC provided the same pain relief as a 60 milligram (moderately strong) dose of codeine and that 20 milligrams of THC worked as well as 120 milligrams of codeine. Interestingly, during this study none of the patients experienced nausea or vomiting and more than half reported that their appetite increased, suggesting that oral THC acted as an antiemetic and appetite stimulant, as well as an analgesic. In contrast, some clinical studies have not only failed to prove that THC relieves pain, but they have also found that the drug has the opposite effect.
Exploring the possibility of using marijuana-based medications to relieve migraine pain will require rigorous clinical trials designed to control factors that may bias results. For example, in a recent survey of more than 100 regular marijuana users with multiple sclerosis, almost all participants reported that marijuana helped relieve spasticity and pain in the extremities (see chapter II). Therefore, the search for new and better pain relievers, perhaps the oldest form of medicine, continues unabated. Since then, it has been used to treat a wide variety of painful conditions, from headache to labor pain.
In fact, for that reason, the IOM team recommended that researchers conduct clinical studies of cannabinoid drugs among cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and AIDS patients suffering from significant wasting or pain. In these experiments, volunteers who experienced painful shocks, heat, or pressure from a tourniquet reported that THC actually increased their pain sensitivity. However, after critically reviewing existing research on THC and pain relief, the IOM team concluded that cannabinoids can provide mild or moderate pain relief, on a par with codeine. This review, which takes an interesting approach to the benefits and harms of cannabinoids for chronic pain, suggests that only moderate benefits can be realized with products with high THC levels, but are more likely to cause adverse effects.
Most importantly, scientists were once again unable to prove whether another pain reliever, instead of a sedative, would have performed better than THC in the test. On average, participants found that the THC analog relieved mild, moderate and severe pain, as well as codeine, and better than secobarbital.
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