A team of Montreal researchers has lent scientific credibility to the view that smoking marijuana can ease chronic neuropathic pain and help patients sleep better.
People suffering from neuropathic pain often turn to opioids, antidepressants and local anesthetics, but those treatments have limitations and the side effects can be punishing. Many physicians and policy-makers, however, are reluctant to advocate the use of cannabis since there has been little scientific research into its effectiveness, even though patients champion its use.
The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that pain intensity among patients decreased with higher-potency marijuana. It is one of a handful of scientific attempts to determine the medicinal benefits of the drug.
“We’re not saying that this is the final solution for chronic pain management. As with any pain strategy, especially with chronic pain, we know that the best approach is a multidisciplinary one,” said lead author Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit of the McGill University Health Centre. “All that this does is open the door to the cannabinoid being another tool in the toolbox in treating chronic pain.”