Harvard Study Shows Medical Cannabis May Help with Chronic Pain

Higher THC consumption was connected to pain relief, while CBD intake was related to mood improvement.

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This story originally appeared on Benzinga

Cannabis treatment can significantly help with chronic pain, according to a new study conducted by Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Boston. 

Thirty-seven patients enrolled in the study with various chronic pain conditions such as neuropathy, joint pain and arthritis, reports Pain News Network. The group was observed for six months while taking cannabis products. Patients had either never used cannabis, or sustained from using it for a minimum of one year prior to the research.

RELATED: Can Cannabis Help Control Fibromyalgia Pain?

The study revealed that those who used medical cannabis daily for six months experienced notable advancements in their overall health status: less pain and anxiety, better sleep and mood. What’s more, patient usage of opioids dropped by 13 percent and 23 percent on average after three and six months of medical cannabis treatment, respectively. The drop in opioid usage wasn't enough to be marked as fundamental, the report said. 

“This naturalistic study of medical cannabis (MC) patients with chronic pain provides preliminary evidence that ‘real world’ MC treatment may be a viable alternative or adjunctive treatment for a least some individuals with chronic pain,” wrote lead author Staci Gruber, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. 

“As results also revealed that individual cannabinoids appear to exert unique effects on pain and comorbid symptoms, more research is needed to potentially optimize cannabinoid-based treatments for pain.”

RELATED: Cannabis and Pain Management: Is Alternative Plant Medicine Becoming the New Norm?

THC For Pain Relief, CBD For Mood Enhancement

The study found that higher THC consumption was connected to pain relief, while CBD intake was related to mood improvement.

“Interestingly, we have found that many patients aim to achieve symptom alleviation without experiencing the intoxicating effects of THC. Therefore, it is likely that patients are able to achieve adequate pain relief using lower doses of THC over time than initially utilized,” said Gruber, who heads the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital.

The study ran a control group with nine patients also suffering from chronic pain who didn’t use medical cannabis, and the group did not show a similar improvement, according Pain News Network.

In conclusion, the researchers said more research and larger studies are needed to confirm the findings and further explore further the effects THC and CBD have on pain and mood.

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