According to a 2018 study in Neurology, medical marijuana can help ease chronic nerve pain. Researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may provide relief by loosening connections between areas of the brain involved with pain.
In Arizona, almost 87% of medical cannabis cardholders use medical marijuana for chronic pain. This statistic, which can be found in the most recent Arizona Medical Marijuana Program report, translates to more than 157,000 individuals.
Chronic pain also includes neuropathic pain, or nerve pain. It can develop due to a wide range of conditions, including sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes and thyroid disorders. Treatment is different for each person, but common options include over-the-counter pain medication, antidepressants and nerve blockers.
However, medical marijuana may also help, according to a recent study. The results, which were published in Neurology, provided amazing insight on how it may relieve the severity of chronic nerve pain.
Scientists wanted to look at how THC affects the brain and nerve pain.
The study was performed by researchers in Israel. Specifically, they focused on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the major compounds in medical marijuana.
The participants included 15 men with an average age of 33; each one had medium to high nerve pain for at least six months. Women didn’t qualify to join the study, as hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle can influence pain sensitivity.
All 15 men had chronic radicular nerve pain, which involves nerve pain that begins in the spine. It’s often felt in the lower back or neck, but it can develop anywhere on the spine. The pain may also be felt in an arm or leg. An example of chronic radicular nerve pain is sciatica.
The study involved pain level ratings and brain scans.
Before the experiment, researchers asked each patient to rate their pain level on a scale from zero to 100. The average rating was 53.
Next, the researchers performed brain scans on the patients. They specifically examined connections in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This part of the brain is said to be involved in acute pain perception and the progression of chronic nerve pain.
From there, the study was carried out over multiple visits. In the first session, the researchers had nine random men take 15 milligrams of THC oil under their tongue. The other six men took a placebo oil.
After an hour, the participants were asked to rate their pain levels. Then, after another hour, they had another brain scan.
The men came back a week later. This time, the groups were switched: men who got THC were given the placebo, and men who got the placebo were given THC. Brain scans were also repeated.
After taking THC, the patients felt less pain.
At the end of the study, researchers found that the THC groups experienced less pain than the placebo groups.
Initially, the patients rated their pain level at 53, on average. After the treatments, those who took THC rated an average of 35, while those who took the placebo rated an average of 43.
The brain scans also told a noteworthy story. They showed that THC reduced connections between the ACC and sensorimotor cortex, which is involved in the sensation of pain. Other areas of the brain involved in pain processing showed similar effects.
THC can provide relief by interrupting pain processing pathways.
According to study’s results, THC has the ability to disrupt signals between parts of the brain that process pain.
In a statement released by the American Academy of Neurology, study author Haggai Sharon, M.D., of the Sagol Brain Institute in Israel, acknowledged that the study was quite small. It also only included men. Larger studies are needed to determine how it affects women and how other components in medical marijuana can provide relief.
Yet, the results show promise. It also opens up the door for more extensive research on the pain-relieving benefits of marijuana.
Desert Rose Dispensary will help you find the best strain for your needs.
Our Phoenix medical marijuana dispensary offers a wide variety of cannabis treatments. When you visit us, our caring and knowledgeable staff can recommend the best medical marijuana for pain. We’ll also personalize a treatment plan based on your medical history and specific needs.
Don’t hesitate to ask us questions, too. We are happy to help educate and empower our patients to make informed decisions about their health.