Pain is the most prevalent symptom treated in clinical trials on cannabinoids with cannabis-based medicines consistently showing ‘promising potential’ in this area, says a new report.
Despite a number of emerging areas of research, pain remains the most common indication to be studied in cannabinoid-related clinical trials since 2010.
A new report, seen by Cannabis Health ahead of publication, explores the current state of cannabis science, with a detailed breakdown of clinical trials which have been carried out in the field over the last decade.
A significant portion of these studies centre around pain, across a number of different diagnoses.
Chronic or neuropathic pain, encompassing conditions such as fibromyalgia/myofascial pain, cancer-related pain, is particularly prevalent, as well as pain associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as MS and Parkinson’s.
Other pain conditions addressed in these trials include post-surgical and post-operative pain; pelvic pain, such as endometriosis; knee or back pain; fractures; pain related to inflammatory bowel disease; and various others.
According to the report, ongoing and completed clinical trials have consistently demonstrated that cannabinoid-based medicine holds ‘promising potential’ for alleviating pain, particularly chronic and neuropathic pain.
Other areas of emerging research
Alongside this, there has been a notable increase in clinical trials examining the potential benefits of cannabinoids for various psychiatric disorders, specifically, in managing common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Research on cannabinoids is also expanding in neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases, as well as PTSD, insomnia/sleep disorders, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and diabetes-related symptoms.
Several ‘emerging areas of research’ have seen ‘high activity’ in clinical trials and have advanced to later stages including some phase 3 trials, in conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), depression in bipolar disorder, endometriosis and alcohol use disorder.
The cannabinoids which crop up most
While recent years have seen an increase in clinical trials on CBD in isolation from other compounds, in general over the last 13 years, the report finds that there has been more interest in treatments involving multiple cannabinoids, primarily THC and CBD.
The researchers also noted a ‘growing interest’ in non-cannabinoid compounds that target the endocannabinoid system.
A place for cannabinoids in mainstream medicine
The full Pharmaceutical Cannabis Report, due to be published next month by Prohibition Partners and Cannabiscientia, explores the progression of cannabinoid medicine and provides an in-depth account of all activity in the context of the global pharmaceutical landscape.
Lawrence Perkins, analyst at Prohibition Partners and co-author of the report, said: “While there are no obvious patterns determining success in clinical trials featuring cannabinoid treatment, ongoing and completed clinical trials have consistently demonstrated that cannabinoid-based medicine holds promising potential for alleviating pain, particularly chronic and neuropathic pain.
“The entry of cannabis and cannabinoids into this mainstream of modern medicine is still in its early stages. The majority of the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabinoids currently takes place outside of the standard channels of modern medicine. That said, in the future there will undoubtedly be a larger place for the medical application of cannabinoids in the mainstream of medicine.
“There is already significant and growing sales activity for those cannabinoid products that have been approved, and momentum continues to build in research and development (R&D) for new and existing applications, formulations, and delivery systems; in building evidence and proof of efficacy through clinical trials; and in protecting new innovations and discoveries through IP.”
The full report is due to be published in August 2023.
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