Cannabis Ineffective in Treating Acute Pain

Photo: Cannabis plants

Previous studies have suggested
that cannabis may be effective in
treating chronic pain; © SXC

The researchers evaluated the analgesic potency of orally administered cannabis extract that included its main psychoactive component, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In the study, 18 healthy female volunteers were given oral cannabis extract or active placebo and then evaluated for heat and electrical pain thresholds in skin areas of experimentally induced sun burn, an accepted approach to assessing responses to acute pain.

The new results concerning oral cannabis for acute pain were seemingly conclusive. “From comparisons with previous clinical data, the lack of pain relief from the cannabis dosage and oral administration in our study cannot be considered the result of inadequate dosage or insufficient gastrointestinal absorption,” said Birgit Kraft, Medical Doctor from the University of Vienna. “The high levels of THC detected in the blood of our subjects as well as the occurrence of typical THC side effects argue for sufficient availability, and thus we draw the conclusion that THC was not effective in treating acute pain.”

Kraft stressed, however, that cannabis may still remain a viable option for certain types of chronic pain patients. “Pain is a very complex and subjective phenomena,” she said. “Chronic pain has not only been shown to lead to changes in peripheral and central neuronal processing, but also to be associated with psychosocial problems, physical disorders, and functional disabilities. Recent studies have indicated that cannabis can be effective in treating certain types of chronic pain and helping patients to cope by improving quality of life.”

The scientists concluded that contemporary treatment strategies that rely on experimentally proven therapies still remain the best option for most patients suffering acute pain.; Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists