Medicinal marijuana effective for neuropathic pain in HIV

August 6, 2008,

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the impact of smoked medical cannabis, or marijuana, on the neuropathic pain associated with HIV, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that reported pain relief was greater with cannabis than with a placebo. The study, sponsored by the University of California Center for Medical Cannabis Research (CMCR) based at UC San Diego, will be published on line, August 6 in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Led by Ronald J. Ellis, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurosciences at UCSD School of Medicine, the study looked at 28 HIV patients with neuropathic pain not adequately controlled by other pain-relievers, including opiates. They took part in the controlled study as outpatients at the UCSD Medical Center. The proportion of subjects achieving pain reduction of 30 percent or more was greater for those smoking cannabis than those smoking the placebo.

"Neuropathy is a chronic and significant problem in HIV patients as there are few existing treatments that offer adequate pain management to sufferers," Ellis said.

"We found that smoked cannabis was generally well-tolerated and effective when added to the patient's existing pain medication, resulting in increased pain relief."

Each trial participant participated in five study phases over seven weeks. During two five-day phases, randomly selected participants smoked either cannabis or placebo cigarettes made from whole plant material with cannabinoids (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana) removed, both provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Outcome was tested by standardized tests measuring analgesia (lessened pain sensation), improvement in function and relief of pain-associated emotional distress.

Using verbal descriptors of pain magnitude, cannabis was associated with an average reduction of pain intensity from 'strong' 'to mild-to-moderate' in cannabis smokers, according to Ellis. Also, cannabis was associated with a sizeable (46% versus 18% for placebo) proportion of patients reporting clinically meaningful pain relief.

The study's findings are consistent with and extend other recent research supporting the short-term efficacy of cannabis for neuropathic pain, also sponsored by the CMCR.

"This study adds to a growing body of evidence that indicates that cannabis is effective, in the short-term at least, in the management of neuropathic pain," commented Igor Grant, M.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the CMCR.

Source: University of California - San Diego

Explore further: New guideline warns pain benefits of medical cannabis overstated

Related Stories

New guideline warns pain benefits of medical cannabis overstated

February 15, 2018
A new medical guideline published today suggests Canada's family physicians should take a sober second thought before prescribing medical cannabis to most patients.

New cannabis products highly potent, pose mental health risks

February 12, 2018
Schizophrenia and other psychiatric issues may be triggered by marijuana use, according to a research analysis in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Researchers target cannabinoid receptors with new line of pain‑relief products

December 18, 2017
As the clock ticks down to the July 1 deadline when recreational marijuana will be legalized in Canada, governments are scrambling and the controversy is mounting among those who want a say in how it will be grown, sold and ...

Cannabis alleviates peripheral neuropathic pain in diabetes

July 25, 2015
(HealthDay)—A small trial shows a dose-dependent reduction in peripheral neuropathic pain in patients with diabetes, according to a study published in the July issue of The Journal of Pain.

Review: cannabis may alleviate neuropathic pain

August 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—Cannabis may alleviate neuropathic pain, but is not associated with benefit for adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to two reviews published online Aug. 15 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Questions remain about the benefits and harms of cannabis

April 3, 2017
Despite dramatic changes in the legal landscape and usage rates of cannabis, evidence is still lacking regarding its potential health and therapeutic effects. Recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and ...

Recommended for you

Scientists produce human intestinal lining that re-creates living tissue inside organ-chip

February 16, 2018
Investigators have demonstrated how cells of a human intestinal lining created outside an individual's body mirror living tissue when placed inside microengineered Intestine-Chips, opening the door to personalized testing ...

Data wave hits health care

February 16, 2018
Technology used by Facebook, Google and Amazon to turn spoken language into text, recognize faces and target advertising could help doctors fight one of the deadliest infections in American hospitals.

Researcher explains how statistics, neuroscience improve anesthesiology

February 16, 2018
It's intuitive that anesthesia operates in the brain, but the standard protocol among anesthesiologists when monitoring and dosing patients during surgery is to rely on indirect signs of arousal like movement, and changes ...

Team reports progress in pursuit of sickle cell cure

February 16, 2018
Scientists have successfully used gene editing to repair 20 to 40 percent of stem and progenitor cells taken from the peripheral blood of patients with sickle cell disease, according to Rice University bioengineer Gang Bao.

Appetite-controlling molecule could prevent 'rebound' weight gain after dieting

February 15, 2018
Scientists have revealed how mice control their appetite when under stress such as cold temperatures and starvation, according to a new study by Monash University and St Vincent's Institute in Melbourne. The results shed ...

First study of radiation exposure in human gut Organ Chip device offers hope for better radioprotective drugs

February 14, 2018
Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. Fukushima. Accidents at nuclear power plants can potentially cause massive destruction and expose workers and civilians to dangerous levels of radiation that lead to cancerous genetic mutations ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.