The National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health have awarded a $3.9 million grant to the University of California, Los Angeles Cannabis Research Initiative to study whether terpenes can reduce the amount of opioid medication a person needs to lessen pain.
The funding will allow Ziva Cooper, research director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, to study the entourage effect, or how terpenes and THC interact with each other. The researchers will study the terpenes myrcene and caryophyllene, which will be administered both with and without THC “to see whether they help reduce pain on their own, and whether they enhance the pain-relieving effects of THC, while reducing its intoxicating properties,” the university said in a press release. The terpenes will also be examined separately to see whether they decrease pain on their own.
Cooper, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said that chemicals specific to the cannabis plant “may be effective options” at limiting pain “with minimal side effects” but “placebo-controlled studies to explore this urgent area of research are desperately needed.”
“Chronic pain is a significant public health burden and there are few effective treatments that lack the adverse effects that limit use.” – Cooper in a statement
Last year Cooper, who is the first research director for the Cannabis Research Initiative, received a $3.5 million NIH grant to study how the pain-relieving and adverse effects of cannabis and cannabinoids affect men and women differently.
The agency also awarded nine universities federal grants totaling $3 million last year to study the “potential pain-relieving properties and mechanisms of actions of the diverse phytochemicals in cannabis, including both minor cannabinoids and terpenes.” In 2017, the NIH awarded a $3.8 million research grant to New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System for a long-term study to investigate whether medical cannabis treatment can help reduce opioid use for adults with chronic pain.
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