A team from Canada has found that three puffs of cannabis (also known as marijuana) a day could be helpful for people with chronic nerve pain because of surgery or injury to feel less pain and sleep better.
“It’s been known anecdotally,” says researcher Mark Ware, MD, assistant professor of anesthesia and family medicine at McGill University in Montreal. “About 10% to 15% of patients attending a chronic pain clinic use cannabis as part of their pain [control] strategy,” Ware remarked.
The study of Ware is more scientific in nature as it was a clinical trial in which his team compared placebo with three different cannabis doses. The study “adds to the trickle of evidence that cannabis may help some of the patients who are struggling [with pain] at present,” Henry McQuay, DM, an emeritus fellow at Balliol College, Oxford University, England, writes in a commentary accompanying the study.
Twenty-one men and women, with an average age of 45 years, were evaluated by Ware and his team. All of the 21 people had chronic nerve pain (or neuropathic pain). Three different potencies of marijuana were tried by the team of Ware and the highest of all concentrations was at 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) herbal cannabis, the other two being 2.5% and 6% THC.
“Each person was in the study for two months, and used all four strengths [including placebo],” Ware says.
The participants were allowed to continue on their routine pain medications and all took a single puff of marijuana three times a day for five days for each of the doses and the placebo. Participants rated their pain on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the worst after each of the five-day trials.
Ware said the highest dose (9.4%) offered relief and reduced their pain down to 5.4, compared to 6.1 from placebo. “We’ve shown again that cannabis is analgesic,” Ware says. “Clearly, it has medical value.”
The research is published in CMAJ, the Canadian Medical Association Journal.