Marijuana’s therapeutic effects for chronic pain patients are well-known. Cannabis reduces inflammation and muscle pain, eases neuropathic pain, and helps pain patients achieve a better night’s sleep. Dosing, on the other hand, is far from standardized.
A 2018 study suggested three puffs a day would keep the pain away. Meanwhile, a study from earlier this year reported that 70-90% of legal marijuana products contain THC levels too strong for effective, long-term pain relief. Now, a new clinical trial may provide more rigorous answers in treating complex pain conditions.
A study led by a team of Israeli scientists, published earlier this month in the European Journal of Pain, found precise doses of THC administered via inhaler were effective in reducing pain in neuropathy patients. The randomized placebo-controlled study divided 27 chronic pain patients into three groups: One group received a 1mg THC dose, the second was given a 0.5mg THC dose, and the third had a placebo.
“Both doses, but not the placebo, demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity compared with baseline and remained stable for 150-minutes,” the researchers wrote. “The 1mg dose showed a significant pain decrease compared to the placebo. Adverse events were mostly mild and resolved spontaneously. There was no evidence of consistent impairments in cognitive performance.”
One of the biggest results, researchers noted, was that this method could assist with individualized medical marijuana prescriptions for patients in the future.
“This feasibility trial demonstrated that a metered-dose cannabis inhaler delivered precise and low THC doses [that] produced a dose-dependent and safe analgesic effect in patients with neuropathic pain/complex-regional pain syndrome (CRPS),” researchers wrote. “Thus, it enables individualization of medical cannabis regimens that can be evaluated pharmacokinetically and pharmacodynamically by accepted pharmaceutical models.”
Previous clinical trials have also tested metered-dose cannabis inhalers as a future tool in medicinal settings. Data from these clinical trials showed novel inhaler devices reduced pain symptoms while displaying minimal adverse effects.
This research could prove vital for administering THC doses to hospitalized patients, because, as a 2019 clinical trial found, combustible marijuana is not acceptable for hospital settings.