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Study: Medical cannabis is effective for chronic pain

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A new study has found long-term medical cannabis use is effective for chronic pain

The long-term use of medical cannabis has been found to be effective for chronic pain in a new study by Harvard University researchers.

Chronic pain patients using medical cannabis saw improvements in their pain, according to a small US study.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Boston, set out to examine the efficacy of long-term medical cannabis use in chronic pain patients.

Thirty-seven patients suffering from chronic pain conditions including arthritis, joint pain and neuropathy were evaluated at three and six months, while consuming cannabis products.

The patients had not used cannabis before or had abstained from use for 12 months prior to the study. 

After six months of daily treatment with cannabis, patients reported significant improvements in their pain, sleep, mood, anxiety and quality of life.

Their use of opioid pain medication also declined by an average of 13 percent and 23 percent after three and six months of treatment, reported Pain News Network.

Researchers found that reduced pain was associated with improvements in mood and anxiety. 

The results suggested that generally, “increased THC exposure was related to pain-related improvement, while increased CBD exposure was related to improved mood.”

A control group of nine patients, who did not use cannabis did not show the same patterns of improvement.

The authors stated: “Medical cannabis (MC) patients exhibited improvements in pain which were accompanied by improved sleep, mood, anxiety, and quality of life, and stable conventional medication use. Reduced pain was associated with improvements in aspects of mood and anxiety.”

They added: “Findings highlight the potential efficacy of MC treatment for pain and underscore the unique impact of individual cannabinoids on specific aspects of pain and comorbid symptoms.”

The study comes following guidance from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) deterring doctors from prescribing cannabis for chronic pain.

The body, which brings together worldwide scientists, clinicians, healthcare providers and policymakers, said in a statement on 16 March, that due to a lack of evidence from ‘high quality research’, it could ‘not endorse’ the general use of cannabinoids to treat pain.

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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