Researchers from Syracuse University have shown in a systematic review of research that cannabis has a positive effect on pain threshold and perceived unpleasantness, though the review showed no perceptible direct pain relief, according to a report appearing in Inverse.
The review used 18 existing studies on cannabis and pain relief that studied a total of 442 adults. A major caveat of the analysis is due to the sample data — like most formal research to date, the 18 studies analyzed focused on THC as the treatment and not other cannabinoids, like CBD.
Also, cannabis used by official research outlets must come from the University of Mississippi — the only entity licensed to produce research-grade cannabis — and the crops grown there are extremely low quality compared to crops grown professionally in state-legal markets, which have much more profound effects and a wider spectrum of cannabinoids.
Researchers said the nature of pain is complex, its expression dependent on many factors beyond the direct perception of pain like anxiety, fatigue and sleep problems. The study’s lead author, Martin De Vita, said that cannabis seems ideal for treating pain in the mind more than the body.
“So while conventional wisdom was ‘cannabinoids relieve pain,’ it is now ‘cannabinoids may relieve specific aspects of pain,'” de Vita said.
Academics call for additional research, pointing out that the sample data limitations in this review are common to the field.
“This systematic review highlights the necessity of loosening restrictions on cannabis research — such as rescheduling cannabis and cannabinoids to Schedule II — so that science catch up with policy. We’re in such a bizarre place right now societally. You can go buy hemp oil that contains CBD from Amazon or a local supermarket, but to try to use those compounds in clinical studies requires an immense regulatory burden.” — Dr. Kevin Boehnke, via Inverse