Scientists have conducted over 140 controlled clinical trials since 1975 assessing the safety and efficacy of either whole-plant cannabis or specific cannabinoids, according to a literature review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences.
A pair of German researchers identified 140 clinical trials involving an estimated 8,000 participants. Of these, the largest body of literature focuses on the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain.
Authors identified 35 controlled studies, involving 2,046 subjects, assessing the use of marijuana or cannabinoids in pain management. In January, the National Academy of Sciences acknowledged that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain.
Cannabinoids have also been well studied as antiemetic agents and as appetite stimulants. Researchers identified 43 trials evaluating marijuana or its components for these purposes, involving a total of 2,498 patients. They identified an additional 14 trials examining the role of cannabis or cannabis-derived extracts for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Researchers also identified several additional trials evaluating the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for a number of other diseases, including Crohn’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, and epilepsy.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that pharmaceutical drugs typically gain FDA approval on the basis of one or two pivotal clinical trials.
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