The Impact of Medical Cannabis on Intermittent and Chronic Opioid Users with Back Pain: How Cannabis Diminished Prescription Opioid Usage

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image“To determine if cannabis may be used as an alternative or adjunct treatment for intermittent and chronic prescription opioid users.

Results: There were no between-group differences based on demographic, experiential, or attitudinal variables. We found that 50.8% were able to stop all opioid usage, which took a median of 6.4 years (IQR=1.75-11 years) after excluding two patients who transitioned off opioids by utilizing opioid agonists. For those 29 patients (47.5%) who did not stop opioids, 9 (31%) were able to reduce opioid use, 3 (10%) held the same baseline, and 17 (59%) increased their usage. Forty-eight percent of patients subjectively felt like cannabis helped them mitigate their opioid intake but this sentiment did not predict who actually stopped opioid usage. There were no variables that predicted who stopped opioids, except that those who used higher doses of cannabis were more likely to stop, which suggests that some patients might be able to stop opioids by using cannabis, particularly those who are dosed at higher levels.

Conclusions: In this long-term observational study, cannabis use worked as an alternative to prescription opioids in just over half of patients with low back pain and as an adjunct to diminish use in some chronic opioid users.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32923663/

“Cannabis has been used for centuries as an analgesic and has been shown to reduce chronic pain. In this long-term observational study of a single-center cannabis medical practice site, the addition of cannabis use worked as an alternative to prescription opioids in 50% of patients with chronic back pain. It worked as an adjunct to diminish use in some chronic opioid users. There was only one variable that predicted those who were able to stop opioids suggesting that some patients might be able to stop opioids by using cannabis and that those who do not stop opioids may not be titrated at doses of cannabis high enough to achieve the desired effect necessary to diminish or stop their opioid usage.”

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2019.0039

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No Evidence of Altered Reactivity to Experimentally Induced Pain Among Regular Cannabis Users

Clinical Journal of Pain,Philadelphia - Gainbuzz“Recent years have seen an increase in the adoption of cannabinoid medicines, which have demonstrated effectiveness for the treatment of chronic pain.

However, the extent to which frequent cannabis use (CU) influences sensitivity to acute pain has not been systematically examined. Such a determination is clinically relevant in light of hypersensitivity to pain associated with prolonged use of other analgesics such as opioids, and reports of increased pain sensitivity to experimentally induced pain during acute cannabis intoxication.

This study explored differences in measures of pain intensity and tolerance. The authors hypothesized that individuals who report frequent CU would demonstrate greater experimental pain sensitivity.

Results: Frequent CU was not associated with hyperalgesia as cannabis users and nonusers did not exhibit differences on measures of pain tolerance (t (78)=-0.05; P=0.96), sensitivity (t (78)=-0.83; P=0.41), or intensity (t (78)=0.36; P=0.72).

Discussion: Frequent cannabis users did not demonstrate hyperalgesia. This finding should help to inform evaluations of the relative harms and benefits of cannabis analgesic therapies.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32433075/

https://journals.lww.com/clinicalpain/Abstract/2020/08000/No_Evidence_of_Altered_Reactivity_to.4.aspx

“Pain tolerance among cannabis users. Unlike opioids, long-term cannabis use does not increase sensitivity to pain. “This study should come as good news to patients who are already using cannabis to treat pain,” says co-author Zach Walsh, who leads the UBC Therapeutic Recreational and Problematic Substance Use Lab which hosted the study. “Increases in pain sensitivity with opioids can really complicate an already tough situation; given increasing uptake of cannabis-based pain medications it’s a relief that we didn’t identify a similar pattern with cannabinoids.”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200910120105.htm

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Insights on cannabidiol’s antiallodynic and anxiolytic mechanisms of action in a model of neuropathic pain

PAIN Impact Factor Increase to 6.029 - IASP“Recent studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD) could have a great therapeutic potential for treating disorders such as chronic pain and anxiety. In the target article, the authors propose that CBD modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses allodynia and anxiety-like behaviour in a rat model of neuropathic pain. Furthermore, this study shows an antinociceptive effect mediated by TRPV1 and partially by 5-HT1A receptors, as well as an anxiolytic effect mediated by 5-HT1A receptors.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32766463/

https://journals.lww.com/painrpts/Fulltext/2019/10000/Insights_on_cannabidiol_s_antiallodynic_and.10.aspx

“Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain”  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30157131/

 

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Medical cannabis for chronic pain: can it make a difference in pain management?

SpringerLink “Globally, chronic pain is a major therapeutic challenge and affects more than 15% of the population. As patients with painful terminal diseases may face unbearable pain, there is a need for more potent analgesics.

Although opioid-based therapeutic agents received attention to manage severe pain, their adverse drug effects and mortality rate associated with opioids overdose are the major concerns. Evidences from clinical trials showed therapeutic benefits of cannabis, especially delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinoids reduced neuropathic pain intensity in various conditions. Also, there are reports on using combination cannabinoid therapies for chronic pain management.

The association of cannabis dependence and addiction has been discussed much and the reports mentioned that it can be comparatively lower than other substances such as nicotine and alcohol. More countries have decided to legalise the medicinal use of cannabis and marijuana. Healthcare professionals should keep themselves updated with the changing state of medical cannabis and its applications.

The pharmacokinetics and safety of medical cannabis need to be studied by conducting clinical research. The complex and variable chemically active contents of herbal cannabis and methodological limitations in the administration of cannabis to study participants, make the clinical research difficult.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31535218/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00540-019-02680-y

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Cholesterol regulates cannabinoid analgesia through glycine receptors

Neuropharmacology “Cholesterol plays vital roles in many central physiological and pathological processes. As a key component in the cell membrane, cholesterol can regulate a variety of ion channels, including ligand-gated ion channels (LGICs). However, relatively little is known about the molecular detail and in vivo consequence of cholesterol-LGIC interaction. Here, we reveal that membrane cholesterol depletion significantly inhibits the potentiating effects of dehydroxylcannabidiol (DH-CBD) on glycine-activated currents (IGly) in HEK 293T cells expressing α1/α3 glycine receptors (GlyRs). Simvastatin considerably decreases cholesterol levels and DH-CBD-induced potentiation of IGly in the spinal cord of mice. Simvastatin also significantly decreases DH-CBD analgesia in acute and chronic pain of mice. The cholesterol levels in the dorsal horn of spinal cord, measured by mass spectrometry imaging, are specifically correlated with cannabinoid potentiation of spinal GlyRs and cannabinoid-induced analgesia. These findings suggest that spinal cholesterol is critical for the efficacy of glycinergic cannabinoid-induced analgesia.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32712277/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028390820303105?via%3Dihub

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Protective role of neuronal and lymphoid cannabinoid CB 2 receptors in neuropathic pain

 eLife logo“Cannabinoid CB2 receptor (CB2) agonists are potential analgesics void of psychotropic effects.

Peripheral immune cells, neurons and glia express CB2, however the involvement of CB2 from these cells in neuropathic pain remains unresolved. We explored spontaneous neuropathic pain through on-demand self-administration of the selective CB2 agonist JWH133 in wild-type and knockout mice lacking CB2 in neurons, monocytes or constitutively. Operant self-administration reflected drug-taking to alleviate spontaneous pain, nociceptive and affective manifestations. While constitutive deletion of CB2 disrupted JWH133-taking behavior, this behavior was not modified in monocyte-specific CB2 knockouts and was increased in mice defective in neuronal CB2 knockouts suggestive of increased spontaneous pain. Interestingly, CB2-positive lymphocytes infiltrated the injured nerve and possible CB2transfer from immune cells to neurons was found. Lymphocyte CB2depletion also exacerbated JWH133 self-administration and inhibited antinociception.

This work identifies a simultaneous activity of neuronal and lymphoid CB2that protects against spontaneous and evoked neuropathic pain.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32687056/

https://elifesciences.org/articles/55582

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Patient Perception Regarding Potential Effectiveness of Cannabis for Pain Management

Home Page: The Journal of ArthroplastySelf-reported cannabis use has increased since its recent legalization in many states.

The primary objective of this study is to describe patients’ beliefs regarding the potential effectiveness of cannabis and gauge patient acceptance of these compounds if prescribed by a physician.

Patients strongly agree or agree that cannabis can help with sleep or anxiety.

Patients believe that cannabis may be helpful for pain management after total joint arthroplasty (TJA) and are willing to use if prescribed by their orthopedic provider.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32684396/

https://www.arthroplastyjournal.org/article/S0883-5403(20)30716-6/pdf

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The pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of a novel selective‐dose cannabis inhaler in patients with chronic pain: A randomized, double‐blinded, placebo‐controlled trial

European Journal of Pain“Precise cannabis treatment dosing remains a major challenge, leading to physicians’ reluctance to prescribe medical cannabis.

Objective

To test the pharmacokinetics, analgesic effect, cognitive performance and safety effects of an innovative medical device that enables the delivery of inhaled therapeutic doses of Δ9‐Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in patients with chronic pain.

Methods

In a randomized, three‐arms, double‐blinded, placebo‐controlled, cross‐over trial, 27 patients received a single inhalation of Δ9‐THC: 0.5mg, 1mg, or a placebo.

Δ9‐THC plasma levels were measured at baseline and up to 150‐min post‐inhalation. Pain intensity and safety parameters were recorded on a 10‐cm visual analogue scale (VAS) at pre‐defined time points. The cognitive performance was evaluated using the selective sub‐tests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB).

Results

Following inhalation of 0.5 mg or 1mg, Δ9‐THC plasma max ± SD were 14.3 ± 7.7 and 33.8 ± 25.7 ng/ml. max ± SD were 3.7 ± 1.4 and 4.4 ± 2.1 min, and AUC0 → infinity±SD were 300 ± 144 and 769 ± 331 ng*min/ml, respectively. Both doses, but not the placebo, demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity compared with baseline and remained stable for 150‐min. The 1‐mg dose showed a significant pain decrease compared to the placebo. Adverse events were mostly mild and resolved spontaneously. There was no evidence of consistent impairments in cognitive performance.

Conclusion

This feasibility trial demonstrated that a metered‐dose cannabis inhaler delivered precise and low THC doses, produced a dose‐dependent and safe analgesic effect in patients with neuropathic pain/ complex‐regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Thus, it enables individualization of medical cannabis regimens that can be evaluated pharmacokinetically and pharmacodynamically by accepted pharmaceutical models.

Significance

Evidence suggests that cannabis‐based medicines are an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. The pharmacokinetics of THC varies as a function of its route of administration. Pulmonary assimilation of inhaled THC causes rapid onset of analgesia. However, currently used routes of cannabinoids delivery provide unknown doses, making it impossible to implement a pharmaceutical standard treatment plan. A novel selective‐dose cannabis inhaler delivers significantly low and precise doses of THC, thus allowing the administration of inhaled cannabis‐based medicines according to high pharmaceutical standards. These low doses of THC can produce safe and effective analgesia in patients with chronic pain.

To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time that the delivery of selective, significantly low, and precise therapeutic single doses of inhaled THC demonstrates an analgesic effect. It allows patients to reach the optimum balance between symptom relief and controlled side effects, enabling patients to regain their quality of life. In addition, this metered‐dose cannabis inhaler enables the individualization of medical cannabis regimens that can be evaluated pharmacokinetically and pharmacodynamically using accepted pharmaceutical models.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1605

Study Finds Microdosing THC Reduces Pain Levels”  https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2020/7/1/study-finds-microdosing-thc-reduces-pain-levels

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Medical Cannabis for the Management of Pain and Quality of Life in Chronic Pain Patients: A Prospective Observational Study

Pain Medicine (Journal) by Oxford University Press

“Objective: To evaluate the short-term and long-term effects of plant-based medical cannabis in a chronic pain population over the course of one year.

Results: Medical cannabis treatment was associated with improvements in pain severity and interference (P < 0.001) observed at one month and maintained over the 12-month observation period. Significant improvements were also observed in the SF-12 physical and mental health domains (P < 0.002) starting at three months. Significant decreases in headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and nausea were observed after initiation of treatment (P ≤ 0.002). In patients who reported opioid medication use at baseline, there were significant reductions in oral morphine equivalent doses (P < 0.0001), while correlates of pain were significantly improved by the end of the study observation period.

Conclusions: Taken together, the findings of this study add to the cumulative evidence in support of plant-based medical cannabis as a safe and effective treatment option and potential opioid medication substitute or augmentation therapy for the management of symptoms and quality of life in chronic pain patients.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32556203/

https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/pm/pnaa163/5859722?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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Non-opioid Analgesics and the Endocannabinoid System

 Balkan Medical Journal“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to produce antinociceptive effects mainly through peripheral COX-inhibition. Paracetamol and dipyrone are different from classical NSAIDs, because they exert weak anti-inflammatory activity; mechanisms other than peripheral COX inhibition appear to play role in their antinociceptive actions. In this review, we specified classical NSAIDs, paracetamol and dipyrone as “non-opioid analgesics” and discussed the mechanisms mediating participation of the endocannabinoid system in the antinociceptive effects of these analgesics. Non-opioid analgesics and their metabolites may activate cannabinoid receptors. In addition, several mechanisms are implicated in the elevation of endocannabinoid levels following administration of non-opioid analgesics. Of these, reduction of endocannabinoid degradation via FAAH and/or COX-2 inhibition, accumulation of arachidonic acid to endocannabinoid biosynthesis following COX inhibition, inhibition of cellular uptake of endocannabinoids directly or following inhibition of nitric oxide synthase production, and induction of endocannabinoid release are among the proposed mechanisms.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32551466/

http://balkanmedicaljournal.org/uploads/pdf/pdf_BMJ_2226.pdf

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