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Chronic pain patients suffering from fibromyalgia stand to benefit from marijuana, a recent study found. But the pain relieving effects of cannabis differed depending on the concentration of THC and CBD.
Researchers in the Netherlands investigated how three varieties of marijuana—one high in THC and low in CBD, one with nearly equal parts THC and CBD and one with high CBD and low THC—affected chronic pain when vaporized.
After vaporizing one of the products, 20 participants were subject to a series of pain tests, including an experiment that involved gradually applying pressure between the index finger and thumb and another that involved electrical stimulation on the leg. Participants also filled out questionnaires about their experience following the procedure.
The results, published in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, showed a significant increase in pain tolerance among patients who vaporized the two varieties high in THC. The researchers found that the high CBD strain was “devoid of analgesic activity in any of the spontaneous or evoked pain models.”
What’s more, CBD increased the concentration of THC in blood plasma, but it also seemed to counter the pain relieving effects of THC, which indicates that the compound has a synergistic but antagonistic relationship with THC.
“The most important observation is that when simultaneously inhaled, THC and CBD interact in complex fashions with synergistic pharmacokinetic but antagonistic pharmacodynamic interactions,” the researchers wrote. “The analgesic efficacy of active treatment was limited to varieties that contained THC and was observed exclusively in the evoked pressure pain model.”
The team said that additional studies are needed “to asses efficacy and safety (including addictive behavior) in clinical trials with prolonged treatment periods and explore the role of psychotropic effects in the development of analgesia.”