Medical cannabis has long been considered an effective treatment option for pain relief and mitigation. But in a field which is often lacking comprehensive clinical studies, new research is welcomed and needed.

A recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of Haifa (Israel), examined patients over a 1 year period to determine how medical cannabis affected their chronic pain symptoms, and measured how much relief was garnered from the treatment. The emphasis of the study was to determine effectiveness of medical cannabis for long-term pain management in chronic sufferers. The study was published in The European Journal of Pain in October of 2020.

Researchers recorded data regarding the cannabis treatment from users at one month, three months, six months, nine months, and twelve months from the initial treatment.

“At one-year, average pain intensity declined from baseline by 20 percent. All other parameters improved by 10 to 30 percent,” the study reported. “A significant decrease of 42 percent from baseline in morphine equivalent daily dosage of opioids was also observed. Reported adverse effects were common but mostly non-serious.” Reports of adverse effects declined over the course of the study period.”

Study Reinforces Earlier Findings

As stated, medical marijuana is commonly used currently for pain management, but an additional study is helpful to those looking for hard data. Like other research, the study supports the conclusion that cannabis is effective in treating long term pain relief; and is a valid alternative to the usage of opioids. Opioids are known to produce serious side effects and addictions which patients with chronic pain are looking to avoid.

This new Israeli study, however, is unique in several ways. For instance, the study endeavored to identify possible predictors for successful treatment utilizing cannabis. These include normal sleep duration, lower BMI and lower depression scores.

“These findings provide physicians with new data to support decision making on recommendations for MC treatment.”
(Medical Cannabis Treatments for Chronic Pain)

The question-based methodology of this research was meant to ascertain the long-term effects of cannabis and pain; rather than short-term, observable results. The first hand aspect of the research, relying on patients to report on their own pain levels, indicates that medical marijuana use has a measurable impact on pain. Of course, the study also reports some expected side effects, such as driving impairment.

The study authors concluded: “This prospective, comprehensive and large-scale cohort demonstrated an overall mild to modest long-term improvement of all investigated measures, including pain, associated symptoms and importantly, reduction in opioid (and other analgesics) use. It seems likely that MC [medical cannabis] treatment can be safe for most patients.”

The study offers additional evidence supporting the positive effects of medical cannabis  on chronic pain and other related symptoms; as well as identifying predictors for successful treatment. Overall, mild to modest long-term improvement of the tested measures were reported. Therefore while the research does not provide definitive conclusions on how cannabis affects pain management, it delivers more evidence that cannabis is effective long-term with pain management, and once again affirms the treatment as a viable alternative to more dangerous or addictive pain management methods.

Dr. Daniel P. Stein is one of the country’s leading authorities on utilizing medical cannabis for a wide range of chronic ailments and conditions. His offices are located in Sarasota, Florida. Patients with questions or referring physicians are welcome to call Dr. Stein directly at (941) 200-3412.