Results from study on CBD for pain are “surprising”

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A recent study carried out by a team of researchers at Syracuse University suggests that the non-psychotropic compound CBD (cannabidiol) may help people to tolerate – although not reduce the intensity of – pain and unpleasant feelings.

Not only is CBD one of the most abundant active components contained in cannabis but also, so is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). While both compounds are produced by the plant in large quantities, they are quite dissimilar in the sense that CBD is non-psychoactive and THC is psychoactive. 

Numerous studies have been carried out into CBD over the years, with a significant portion claiming that the naturally-occurring substance may prove useful for treating cancer and insomnia. Nonetheless, nothing has been absolutely proven and therefore scientists have a long way to go before they can fully comprehend what CBD is capable of. 

CBD for pain: Cannabinoid harbors analgesic properties

On more than one occasion, CBD has been touted as a powerful analgesic. However, there is insufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest that CBD can be used as an effective and safe analgesic… until now. 

Syracuse University’s placebo-controlled investigations have outlined how the plant’s natural therapeutic properties, including analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, can help with pain management. 

Analgesics, which are a type of painkiller developed to influence sensation, are commonly used to relieve pain in people who struggle to live with their symptoms. Unfortunately, many prescribable meds that fall into the category of analgesics, such as opiates, tend to be addictive and carry the risk of side effect(s) and/or fatal overdose.

CBD for pain: Cannabinoid affects chronic pain sufferers

Rather than directly targeting people who suffer from chronic pain, the recent CBD pain study indicates that the cannabinoid may influence reactions to acute pain, as well as the strength of CBD’s placebo effect.

A total of 15 study subjects partook in the study, which saw four experimental sessions take place. Each session involved the use of a heat source to make participants experience acute pain. Specific pain levels were noted utilizing empirical scales and subjective ratings of pain intensity.

“We hypothesized that we would primarily detect expectancy-induced placebo analgesia (pain relief). What we found though after measuring several different pain outcomes is that it’s actually a little bit of both,” wrote one of the study’s authors, Martin De Vita. “That is, we found improvements in pain measures caused by the pharmacological effects of CBD and the psychological effects of just expecting that they had gotten CBD. It was pretty remarkable and surprising.”

Participants were randomly assigned to different counterbalanced manipulation conditions at each session: control (told inactive – given inactive); expectancy (told active CBD – given inactive); drug (told inactive – given active CBD); and expectancy + drug (told active CBD – given active CBD),” the researchers added.

Thanks to the results, De Vita says that pain problems are multidimensional and future investigations must be tweaked to understand what types of pain the cannabinoid can be used to treat in future.