Cannabis-extracted hemp oil treats neuropathic pain with positive results

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Should doctors prescribe cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain? If it’s derived from hemp, quite possibly so. This is according to a team of researchers at the University of New Mexico (UNM), who recently conducted a study on a chronic neuropathic pain animal model. 

Published in the journal Life, the UNM study on hemp oil for chronic neuropathic pain is titled “The Therapeutic Effectiveness of Full Spectrum Hemp Oil Using a Chronic Neuropathic Pain Model.” 

Specifically, the findings demonstrated a 10-fold reduction in mechanical pain sensitivity over several hours. UNM researchers came to this conclusion after administering cannabis-derived hemp oil to mice with chronic postoperative neuropathic pain.

UNM study on hemp oil for chronic neuropathic pain is the first of its kind 

A specific type of cannabis-derived hemp oil was used in the study — “LyFeBaak”. This product is manufactured by a company called Organic-Energetic Solutions and it has been sold across New Mexico’s medical cannabis market since last year. This is not the first cannabis-focused study to be carried out by UNM, however. 

In the past, researchers have explored the safety and efficacy of cannabis. What makes this particular UNM study different is the fact that university researchers have never before investigated the therapeutic efficacy of low-THC hemp oil. 

THC is short for ‘cannabidiol’ and it is the cannabis plant’s most famous cannabinoid; not to mention the plant’s most mind-altering substance.

“Cannabis plants with low THC are still psychoactive, but tend to result in less psychedelic experiences, while still offering profound and often immediate relief from symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and depression,” said the co-researcher of this UNM study on hemp oil for chronic neuropathic pain, Dr. Jacob Miguel Vigil.

The chronic neuropathic pain model utilized for this experiment caused the nice to endure postoperative neuropathic pain which, according to the researchers, would have been on-par with several year’s worth of chronic pain in human clinical patients. To properly determine hemp oil’s effects, the team analyzed momentary pain sensitivity in the affected areas on rodent models.

“Our lab utilizes a unique nerve injury model mimicking human neuropathic pain that has allowed demonstration of hemp’s reversal of the pain related behavior” said one of the study’s lead investigators and vice chair of research at the Department of Anesthesiology, Dr. Karin N. Westlund. 

Hemp is no longer prohibited under federal U.S. law

What makes this UNM study on hemp oil for chronic neuropathic pain so exciting is the fact that hemp is already a legal substance in the U.S. This non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species is not criminally prohibited due to its low THC content — hemp grows with less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive cannabinoid.

The plant’s legalization emerged following the passing of the Hemp Farming Act in 2018.  With this new law enacted, hemp has been eliminated from the list of Schedule I controlled substances and is now considered an ordinary agricultural commodity. In addition to the legalization of its production, it is also legal to consume hemp; suggesting that this UNM study on hemp oil for chronic neuropathic pain could encourage more doctors to prescribe it as a medicine.

“This is an extremely exciting time in modern medical discovery, because the average citizen now has legal access to a completely natural and effective medication that can be easily and cheaply produced, simply by sticking a seed in the ground and caring for it as you would any other important part of your life,” explained Vigil, who is also a professor in the UNM Psychology Department.

Drugs belonging to the opiate family – A.K.A. “opioids” – are commonly prescribed to patients who suffer from chronic pain. While they can minimize feelings of pain, opioids are highly addictive and in thousands of cases each year, fatal. Hemp, on the other hand, is abundant with various therapeutic constituents that “likely contribute to analgesic responses, including terpenes and flavonoids, which in theory, work together like members of a symphony, often described as the entourage effect,” explained fellow researcher, Jegason P. Diviant. 

Thanks to the team’s discovery, millions of people who suffer from some level of chronic discomfort – approximately 100 million people in the U.S. alone – have been given hope that cannabis could potentially boost their quality of life. Moreover, the findings of this UNM study on hemp oil for chronic neuropathic pain may provide patients who are considering swapping over-the-counter medicines with some clarity about the benefits of natural plant-derived solutions.