A new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has found evidence that cannabinoids may be effective for reducing neuropathic pain. A team of 11 researchers from the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health and Science University reviewed the findings of 27 previously published studies that investigated cannabinoids and chronic pain in adults.
Nerve pain, also referred to as neuropathy, can be caused by a number of conditions or even have mysterious origins. Damage to the nerves in the brain and spinal cord cause a discomfort that is commonly associated with weakness or numbness.
After reviewing the studies, the researchers found “low strength” evidence that cannabinoids can help alleviate nerve pain. They published their findings in the most recent issue of the peer-review journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Sachin Patel of the Vanderbilt Psychiatry Hospital in Nashville wrote a commentary accompanying the research review. In it, he described the review’s findings on neuropathy “fit generally well with what we know.”
The findings in previous studies also indicate efficacy of cannabinoids for chronic pain. The two major cannabinoids – cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – have demonstrated to be beneficial for the management of pain. Both cannabinoids interact with receptors of the endocannabinoid system to regulate central nervous system immune cells and the release of neurotransmitter to manage pain levels. Earlier this year, an extensive review from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that there is “conclusive or substantial scientific evidence” showing cannabinoids effective for chronic pain management.
This latest review was commissioned by the VA in an effort to better understand how cannabinoids may be able to help veterans who suffer from pain.
“There may be some evidence that [cannabinoids are] beginning to be helpful,” said Dr. David Shulkin, secretary of the VA, in a written statement regarding the review’s findings.
The VA also commissioned a study examining cannabinoids for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but concluded there haven’t been enough studies done to come to a determination.
You may also be interested in these related articles:
- How Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System Manage the Pain Response
- Can CBD Help Those Addicted to Pain Medications?
- Nearly Half of CBD Users No Longer Need Other Meds, Study Finds