Comparing Sublingual and Inhaled Cannabis Therapies for Low Back Pain: An Observational Open-Label Study

Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal - Thailand Medical News

“Background and objective: Medical cannabis is becoming an acceptable treatment modality in medicine, especially for pain relief. Concurrently, cannabis use is becoming more prevalent worldwide, a public demand-driven trend despite the lack of established scientific basis. This observational open-label study sought to investigate the effectiveness of cannabis therapy for alleviating low back pain symptoms.

Methods: Two types of cannabis treatment modalities were sequentially administered to chronic low back pain patients. After an initial 1-month washout period (WO1), the first modality was cannabidiol (CBD)-rich sublingual extract treatment administered for 10 months. Following another washout period, the second modality, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-rich smoked inflorescence (whole dried cannabis flowers) was administered for 12 months.

Results: Enrolled in the study were 24 patients whose advanced imaging studies (i.e. computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine) revealed disc herniation or spinal stenosis. Three patients dropped out of extract therapy treatment but resumed study participation to receive THC-rich smoking therapy. After a minimum of 2 years, cannabis therapy had reduced lower back pain symptoms, as assessed by Oswestry Disability Index, the SF-12 patient-reported outcome questionnaire, and the visual analogue scale. Pain reduction was not significant during the extract treatment part of the study; however, pain reduction was significant during the inhaled therapy part of the study.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that inhaled THC-rich therapy is more effective than CBD-rich sublingual extract therapy for treating low back pain and that cannabis therapy is safe and effective for chronic low back pain.”

Safety and Effectiveness of Cannabinoids to Danish Patients with Treatment Refractory Chronic Pain – A Retrospective Observational Real-world Study

“Background: Cannabinoids are considered a therapeutic option to patients suffering from treatment refractory chronic pain (TRCP) insufficiently relieved by conventional analgesics or experiencing intolerable adverse events (AEs) from those. This study aimed to explore safety and effectiveness of oral cannabinoids among patients with TRCP.

Methods: A retrospective study was conducted among Danish patients with TRCP being prescribed oral cannabinoids. Data on AEs and changes in pain intensity by numeric rating scale (NRS) before and after initiation of oral cannabinoid therapy were analyzed.

Results: Among 826 eligible patients ≥ 18 years old, 529 (64%) were included for data analysis at first follow- up (F/U1) (median 56 days from baseline) and 214 (26%) for second follow-up (F/U2) (median 126 days from F/U1). Mean age was 60±15.9 years and 70% were females. AEs were in general reported mild to moderate by 42% of patients at F/U1 and 34% at F/U2. AEs were mainly related to gastrointestinal (F/U1: 17% and F/U2: 13%) and nervous system disorders (F/U1: 14% and F/U2: 11%). Reduction in NRS was significantly different at both follow-up consultations compared with baseline (<.0001). Clinically relevant pain reduction (NRS ≥30%) was reported by 17% at F/U1 and 10% of patients at F/U2 in intention-to-treat analysis whereas the figures were 32% and 45% respectively, in per-protocol analysis.

Conclusion: Oral cannabinoid therapy seems to be safe and mildly effective in patients with TRCP. Randomized controlled trials with focus on comparable pain characteristics in diagnostical homogenous patient subgroups are needed for further improvement of evidence level for relief of chronic pain using oral cannabinoids.”

Medical Cannabinoids as Treatment for Hypophosphatasia-Related Symptoms

Karger Publishers – ScienceOpen

“Background: Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare congenital disease caused by a mutation affecting tissue non-specific alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme involved in phosphate metabolism. The clinical manifestation usually includes bone-mineralization disorders, neurological symptoms, and persistent muscle pain.

Case report: This case involves a woman in her sixties of Central European descent who suffers from life-long chronic pain and muscle weakness due to hypophosphatasia and concomitant degenerative changes of the lumbar spine. The patient is physically impaired and limited in her ability to walk as a result. HPP-specific and guideline-based multimodal pain management including enzyme replacement therapy with asfotase alfa, opioids, invasive orthopedic and neurosurgical procedures, long-term physiotherapy, and psychotherapy did not yield sufficient treatment results. The average pain was given as 8.5 on a numerical rating scale (NRS, 0-10) for the last 3 years. Treatment with a cannabidiol-predominant, full-spectrum, prescription cannabis extract led to a clinically meaningful pain reduction to 2.5/10 NRS, a discontinuation of opioids, and a recent resumption of employment as a physician.

Conclusion: A more widespread consideration of medical cannabinoids in the treatment of complex chronic pain is proposed. Cannabinoids may pose a particularly potent treatment option for HPP-related symptoms and inflammation due to their known anti-inflammatory properties.”

Chronic Pain and Cannabidiol in Animal Models: Behavioral Pharmacology and Future Perspectives

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“The incidence of chronic pain is around 8% in the general population, and its impact on quality of life, mood, and sleep exceeds the burden of its causal pathology. Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted problem with few effective and safe treatment options. It can be associated with neurological diseases, peripheral injuries or central trauma, or some maladaptation to traumatic or emotional events. In this perspective, animal models are used to assess the manifestations of neuropathy, such as allodynia and hyperalgesia, through nociceptive tests, such as von Frey, Hargreaves, hot plate, tail-flick, Randall & Selitto, and others. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been considered a promising strategy for treating chronic pain and diseases that have pain as a consequence of neuropathy. However, despite the growing body of evidence linking the efficacy of CBD on pain management in clinical and basic research, there is a lack of reviews focusing on chronic pain assessments, especially when considering pre-clinical studies, which assess chronic pain as a disease by itself or as a consequence of trauma or peripheral or central disease. Therefore, this review focused only on studies that fit our inclusion criteria: (1) used treatment with CBD extract; (2) used tests to assess mechanical or thermal nociception in at least one of the following most commonly used tests (von Frey, hot plate, acetone, Hargreaves, tail-flick, Randall & Selitto, and others); and (3) studies that assessed pain sensitivity in chronic pain induction models. The current literature points out that CBD is a well-tolerated and safe natural compound that exerts analgesic effects, decreasing hyperalgesia, and mechanical/thermal allodynia in several animal models of pain and patients. In addition, CBD presents several molecular and cellular mechanisms of action involved in its positive effects on chronic pain. In conclusion, using CBD seems to be a promising strategy to overcome the lack of efficacy of conventional treatment for chronic pain.”

Medical Cannabis Use and Inflammatory Cytokines and Chemokines Among Adult Chronic Pain Patients

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“Background: Utilizing cannabis as a therapeutic option for chronic pain (CP) has increased significantly. However, data regarding the potential immunomodulatory effects of cannabis in CP patients remain scarce. We aimed at exploring the relationship between cannabis use and inflammatory cytokines and chemokines among a cohort of CP patients. 

Methods: Adult patients with a CP diagnosis and medical authorization of cannabis were enrolled. Patients completed validated clinical questionnaires and self-reported the effectiveness of cannabis for symptom management. Patients’ blood and cannabis samples were analyzed for the presence of four major cannabinoids, two major cannabinoid metabolites, 29 different cytokines/chemokines, and cortisol. The multivariable linear regression model was used to identify cannabis and patient factors associated with immune markers. 

Results: Fifty-six patients (48±15 years; 64% females) were included, with dried cannabis (53%) being the most common type of cannabis consumed. Seventy percent of products were considered delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC)-dominant. The majority of patients (96%) self-reported effective pain management, and 76% reported a significant decrease in analgesic medication usage (p≤0.001). Compared with males, female patients had higher plasma levels of cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidiolic acid, Δ9-THC, and 11-hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol but lower concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid and 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH). Females had significantly lower eotaxin levels (p=0.04) in comparison to male patients. The regression analysis indicated that high cannabis doses were related to increased levels of interleukin (IL)-12p40 (p=0.02) and IL-6 (p=0.01), whereas female sex was associated with decreased eotaxin (p≤0.01) concentrations. Blood CBD levels were associated with lower vascular endothelial growth factor (p=0.04) concentrations, and THC-COOH was a factor related to decreased tumor necrosis factor alpha (p=0.02) and IL-12p70 (p=0.03). 

Conclusion: This study provides further support for the patient-perceived effectiveness of cannabis in managing CP symptoms and reducing analgesic medication consumption. The results suggest a potential sex difference in metabolizing cannabinoids, and the varying immune marker concentrations may support a possible immunomodulatory effect associated with patient sex and cannabis product type. These preliminary findings provide grounds for further validation using larger, well-designed studies with longer follow-up periods.”

The role of Cannabis in treatment-resistant Fibromyalgia women

“Background: Fibromyalgia is a complex pain-focused syndrome. Previous studies showed that Cannabis is efficacious in promoting sleep, deepening and lengthening the sleep cycle, and good pain relief (compared to SSRIs and SNRIs).

Purpose: This study aimed to use the World Health Organization Quality of Life Bref questionnaire (WhoQoL-bref) to characterize the impact of Cannabis Treatment initiation on the quality of life in women suffering from treatment-resistant fibromyalgia.

Methods: a prospective cohort study involving 30 women aged 18-70 years old diagnosed with fibromyalgia, exhausted pharmacological fibromyalgia treatment, and started Cannabis treatment. Pregnant women were excluded. WhoQoL-bref was filled before Cannabis treatment initiation and one month following treatment.

Results: Women’s average age was 46 years(±5), with a poor general quality of life (1.47±0.63), poor general health (1.47±0.78), pain and discomfort, and dependence on medication (3.77±1.3 and 3.07±1.74 respectively) prior to Cannabis intervention. Cannabis treatment for 30 days showed a marked improvement in general quality of life (1.97 scores, p < 0.01), general health (1.83, p<0.01), physical health ( 1.5, p<0.01), and psychological domain (1.3, p<0.01). Financial resources and home environment were not influenced by cannabis treatment (p=0.07, p=0.31, respectively).

Conclusion: Results suggest a potentially significant role of Cannabis in treatment-resistant Fibromyalgia women. Early Cannabis treatment may result in a beneficial short-term effect on the quality of life through its influence on pain, sleep, physical and psychological domains. Further studies are still indicated to understand this potential and its long-term beneficial impact.”

” Flower Power”: Controlled Inhalation of THC-Predominant Cannabis Flos Improves Health-Related Quality of Life and Symptoms of Chronic Pain and Anxiety in Eligible UK Patients


“In November 2018, the UK’s Home Office established a legal route for eligible patients to be prescribed cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans (CBPMs) as unlicensed medicines. These include liquid cannabis extracts for oral administration (“oils”) and dried flowers for inhalation (“flos”). Smoking of CBPMs is expressly prohibited. To date, THC-predominant cannabis flowers remain the most prescribed CBPMs in project Twenty21 (T21), the first multi-center, prospective, observational UK cannabis patient registry. This observational, prospective data review analyzes patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS) collected by T21 associated with the inhalation of KHIRON 20/1, the most prescribed CBPM in the project. PROMS collected at baseline and at subsequent 3-month follow-up included health-related quality of life (HRQoL), general mood, and sleep. Condition-specific measures of illness severity were performed with the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form (BPI-SF) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item Scale (GAD-7). Participants (N = 344) were mostly males (77.6%, average age = 38.3) diagnosed mainly with chronic pain (50.9%) and anxiety-related disorders (25.3%). Inhalation of KHIRON 20/1 was associated with a marked increase in self-reported HRQoL, general mood, and sleep (N = 344; p < 0.001). Condition-specific assessments showed significant improvements in pain severity (T = 6.67; p < 0.001) and interference (T = 7.19; p < 0.001) in patients using KHIRON 20/1 for chronic pain (N = 174). Similar results were found for patients diagnosed with anxiety-related disorders (N = 107; T = 12.9; p < 0.001). Our results indicate that controlled inhalation of pharmaceutical grade, THC-predominant cannabis flos is associated with a significant improvement in patient-reported pain scores, mood, anxiety, sleep disturbances and overall HRQoL in a treatment-resistant clinical population.”

“Our results indicate that controlled inhalation of pharmaceutical grade, THC-predominant cannabis flos was associated with a robust improvement in patient-reported pain scores, general mood, anxiety, sleep, and overall HRQoL in a treatment-resistant clinical population.”

Combinations of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Reducing Chemotherapeutic Induced Neuropathic Pain


“Neuropathic pain is a condition that impacts a substantial portion of the population and is expected to affect a larger percentage in the future. This type of pain is poorly managed by current therapies, including opioids and NSAIDS, and novel approaches are needed. We used a cisplatin-induced model of neuropathic pain in mice to assess the effects of the cannabinoids THC and CBD alone or in varying ratios as anti-nociceptive agents. In addition to testing pure compounds, we also tested extracts containing high THC or CBD at the same ratios.

We found that pure CBD had little impact on mechanical hypersensitivity, whereas THC reduced mechanical hypersensitivity in both male and female mice (as has been reported in the literature). Interestingly, we found that high CBD cannabis extract, at the same CBD dose as pure CBD, was able to reduce mechanical hypersensitivity, although not to the same level as high THC extract. These data suggest that, at least for CBD-dominant cannabis extracts, there is an increase in the anti-nociceptive activity that may be attributed to other constitutes of the plant.

We also found that high THC extract or pure THC is the most efficacious treatment for reducing neuropathic pain in this model.”

Cannabidiol as a modulator of α7 nicotinic receptors


“Cannabidiol (CBD), an important terpenoid compound from marijuana with no psychoactive effects, has become of great pharmaceutical interest for several health conditions. As CBD is a multitarget drug, there is a need to establish the molecular mechanisms by which CBD may exert therapeutic as well as adverse effects. The α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) is a cation-permeable ACh-gated channel present in the nervous system and in non-neuronal cells. It is involved in different pathological conditions, including neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, inflammation, and cancer. By high-resolution single-channel recordings and confocal microscopy, we here reveal how CBD modulates α7 nAChR ionotropic and metabotropic functions. CBD leads to a profound concentration-dependent decrease of α7 nAChR single-channel activity with an IC50 in the sub-micromolar range. The inhibition of α7 nAChR activity, which takes place through a membrane pathway, is neither mediated by receptor phosphorylation nor overcome by positive allosteric modulators and is compatible with CBD stabilization of resting or desensitized α7 nAChR conformational states. CBD modulation is complex as it also leads to the later appearance of atypical, low-frequency α7 nAChR channel openings. At the cellular level, CBD inhibits the increase in intracellular calcium triggered by α7 nAChR activation, thus decreasing cell calcium responses. The modulation of α7 nAChR is of pharmacological relevance and should be considered in the evaluation of CBD potential therapeutic uses. Thus, our study provides novel molecular information of CBD multiple actions and targets, which is required to set the basis for prospective applications in human health.”

“Targeting α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors for chronic pain”

Efficacy and mechanism of the antinociceptive effects of cannabidiol on acute orofacial nociception induced by Complete Freund’s Adjuvant in male Mus musculus mice

Archives of Oral Biology

“Objectives: The objectives were to investigate the efficacy and mechanisms of cannabidiol on orofacial nociception induced by Complete Freund’s Adjuvant (CFA) in male Mus musculus mice.

Design: For the study of efficacy, mice were divided into seven groups: sham; inflammation; and cannabidiol 0.5, 1, 3, 5, and 10 mg. For the study of mechanisms of cannabidiol, mice were divided into six groups: sham, inflammation, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antagonist with and without cannabidiol, and vanilloid receptor 1 antagonist with and without cannabidiol. Spontaneous pain-like behaviors, trigeminal nociception, and trigeminal modulating activity were investigated.

Results: CFA injected in the right masseter muscle significantly induced spontaneous pain-like behaviors and the trigeminal nociceptive pathway. This effect was inhibited by injection of 1, 3, 5, and 10 mg of cannabidiol. The 50 % inhibitory concentration of cannabidiol on antinociception was found to be 3 mg/kg. In addition, there was no difference in spontaneous pain-like behaviors with vanilloid receptor 1 antagonist injected before treatment with cannabidiol compared to saline control. Reduced c-fos expression was observed in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis and periaqueductal gray in the group injected with CGRP antagonist before treatment with cannabidiol.

Conclusion: The antinociceptive effects of cannabidiol induced by acute orofacial nociception is mediated by vanilloid receptor 1 but not by CGRP. Cannabidiol can act with peripheral nonpeptidergic neurons and can be used as an alternative drug or as a synergistic medication in pain treatment.”

“Our results may imply that cannabidiol can be used as an alternative drug or as synergistic medication in orofacial pain treatment.”