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Study: Legal hemp oil effective for treating chronic pain

Legal hemp oil, extracted from the cannabis plant, has been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain. 

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Hemp oil reduced pain sensitivity 10-fold for several hours in mice with chronic neuropathic pain.

Legal hemp oil, extracted from the cannabis plant, has been found to be effective in reducing chronic neuropathic pain. 

Researchers at The University of New Mexico (UNM) have shown that hemp oil reduced pain sensitivity 10-fold for several hours in mice with chronic neuropathic pain.

Distinguished from its still largely prohibited cousin, “hemp” refers to cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent THC.

Hemp is now federally legal to produce and consume in most regions throughout the US, as a result of the Hemp Farming Act, proposed by the US Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2018.

This major breakthrough now enables millions of Americans to access a natural, effective, and relatively safe alternative option for treating chronic pain, say those behind the study.

Conventional pharmacological drugs, namely opioids, are driving the leading form of preventable deaths and conventional medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US.

The UNM conducted a series of studies testing the effectiveness and safety of consuming the cannabis plant.

This is the first to measure the therapeutic potential of legal hemp oil with low THC levels.

“Cannabis plants with low THC are still psychoactive, but tend to result in less psychedelic experiences, while still offering profound and often immediate relief from symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and depression,” says co-researcher, Dr Jacob Miguel Vigil, associate professor in the UNM Psychology Department.

Using a model that exposes mice to post-operative neuropathic pain equivalent to several years of chronic pain in humans, the researchers were able to examine how hemp oil influences momentary pain sensitivity to the affected region. 

For several hours after consumption, the mice demonstrated effective pain relief, approaching the pain sensitivity of naïve control mice that did not undergo the surgical operation.

Fellow researcher, Jegason P Diviant says: “Hemp plants contain numerous therapeutic constituents that likely contribute to analgesic responses, including terpenes and flavonoids, which in theory, work together like members of a symphony, often described as the entourage effect.”

Several clinical investigations have shown that medications based on synthetic cannabis analogues and isolated compounds tend to offer lower reported symptom relief and a greater number of negative side effects as compared to whole plant, or full-spectrum cannabis flower and plant-based extracts.

Few studies exist on the long-term use of hemp oil, due mostly to historical prohibition laws in the US, caution the authors.

However, Vigil added: “This is an extremely exciting time in modern medical discovery, because the average citizen now has legal access to a completely natural and effective medication that can be easily and cheaply produced, simply by sticking a seed in the ground and caring for it as you would any other important part of your life.”

The full article, Therapeutic Effectiveness of Full Spectrum Hemp Oil Using a Chronic Neuropathic Pain Model is published in the journal Life.

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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