While THC has a strong potential as a pain reliever, CBD is also a viable research candidate for novel treatment methods.
It has been said that happiness is all about increasing pleasure and limiting pain. As such, pain is a pressing issue in many people’s lives. Whether chronic (lasting years) or acute (often stemming from a recent trauma), pain can be debilitating. Due to this nature, millions of Americans and others find themselves relying on opiates.
However, research is finding alternatives. Following up on 2018 research that found that cannabinoids may increase patients’ pain threshold while also making pain seem less unpleasant, a December 2020 meta-analysis comprehensively reviewed the available medical literature on cannabinoids and acute pain.
Differences In Administration Count
After searching through the available data, the analysis selected six studies. Of these six studies, 2 were American, 2 were Canadian, 1 was British, and 1 featured contributions from Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Five of them studied orally administered cannabinoids, while one studied the effects of intramuscular cannabinoids.
Throughout the research, the group given orally administered cannabinoids did not differ significantly from the controls, who were given a placebo yet, the intramuscular patients saw a significant improvement in acute pain.
The analysis went on to posit that this may be due to the differences in the metabolization of cannabinoids administered in various ways: “Specifically, oral absorption of cannabinoids is slow and variable with maximal plasma concentrations occurring 60–120 min post-ingestion but can be delayed upward of 6 h. Cannabinoids are subjective to significant first-pass liver metabolism, which further reduces the bioavailability. Utilizing transdermal, inhaled, or oral transmucosal formulations allows for direct plasma uptake and avoidance of the first-pass effect. Inhaled cannabinoids reach peak effect in 10 min and plasma levels are maintained for several hours.”
Here, the available data seems to suggest that alternative methods to traditional oral consumption methods may be more effective at treating pain. Water-soluble oral administered cannabis may also be an adequate alternative as it also has a faster activation time. However, cannabinoid-based treatments did increase the presence of nonserious adverse effects. It did not increase the presence of severe adverse effects, which maintains its potential as a novel treatment method for acute pain.
The study concludes by noting all of the studies were focused, if not solely based, on THC. While THC has a strong potential as a pain reliever, CBD is also a viable research candidate for novel treatment methods. Competitive and varied markets are fertile environments, and so expanding and exploring cannabis as a medicine will only enrich science and empower the consumer.