Researchers in the United States (US) said cannabis appears to be a safe and potentially effective treatment for the chronic pain that afflicts people with sickle cell disease.
These are the findings of a new clinical trial published in the ‘JAMA Network Open’.
The study is co-led by University of California (UC), Irvine researcher, Kalpna Gupta and Dr. Donald Abrams of UC San Francisco. According to Gupta: “These trial results show that vaporised cannabis appears to be generally safe.
“They also suggest that sickle cell patients may be able to mitigate their pain with cannabis — and that cannabis might help society address the public health crisis related to opioids.
“Of course, we still need larger studies with more participants to give us a better picture of how cannabis could benefit people with chronic pain.”
Opioids are currently the primary treatment for the chronic and acute pain caused by sickle cell disease, reported the ‘Science Daily’ But the rise in opioid-associated deaths has prompted physicians to prescribe them less frequently, leaving sickle cell patients with fewer options.
The double-blind, placebo- controlled, randomised trial was the first to employ such gold-standard methods to assess cannabis’ potential for pain alleviation in people with sickle cell disease.
The cannabis used in the trial was obtained from the National Institute on Drug Abuse — part of the National Institutes of Health — and contained equal parts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabichromene CBD).
THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation. A study done in March 2010 showed that CBC along with cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have antidepressant effects.
“Pain causes many people to turn to cannabis and is, in fact, the top reason that people cite for seeking cannabis from dispensaries,” Gupta said.
“We don’t know if all forms of cannabis products will have a similar effect on chronic pain.
Vaporised cannabis, which we employed, may be safer than other forms because lower amounts reach the body’s circulation. This trial opens the door for testing different forms of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain.”