Study demonstrates pain-relieving efficacy of THC-rich cannabis flowers

“Cannabis with high THC also causes mood elevation and adjusts attentional demands, likely distracting patients from the aversive sensations that people refer to (as) pain," said UNM professor Jacob Miguel Vigil, PhD

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Study demonstrates pain-relieving efficacy of THC-rich cannabis flowers

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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A study recently carried out by a team of researchers from the University of New Mexico has highlighted the pain-relieving potential of cannabis’ psychoactive constituent, tetrahydrocannabinol, A.K.A. ‘THC’.

The researchers have urged medical practitioners to pay attention to the medical benefits of THC, which was previously regarded as ‘taboo’, following years of unsubstantiated propaganda tarnishing its image.

UNM researchers gathered data from almost 3,000 cannabis consumers in order to conduct their survey.

What they discovered was that individuals experienced better levels of pain relief after they used THC-laden nuggets of weed or whole cannabis flowers; the average pain level on a scale of 0-10 after consumption was three.

Cannabis’ non-psychoactive constituent cannabidiol (CBD) failed to produce similar levels of pain relief.

UNM cannabis study: Researchers used mobile-installed software called

The Releaf App allows users to input their feelings after consuming various cannabis products. Self-reported data was published by the UNM researchers in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

“Perhaps the most surprising result is just how widespread relief was with symptom relief reported in about 95 percent of cannabis administration sessions and across a wide variety of different types of pain,” said an assistant professor of economics at the university called Xiaoxue Li, PhD.

Consumers submitted information pertaining to the level of symptomatic relief they experienced after using a wide scope of cannabis products, such as tinctures, smokable flower, edibles and oils.

Another professor at UNM, specializing in the Department of Psychology, is Jacob Miguel Vigil, PhD. He says that the cannabis plant is made up of various constituents – aside from cannabinoids like THC – that work in synergy with one another.

“Cannabis likely has numerous constituents that possess analgesic properties beyond THC, including terpenes and flavonoids, which likely act synergistically for people that use whole dried cannabis flower,” said Vigil, adding that, “cannabis offers the average patient an effective alternative to using opioids for general use in the treatment of pain with very minimal negative side effects for most people.”

UNM cannabis study: Cannabis research study authors say that consumption may cause short-term impairment

In spite of the fact that the results of this study on THC’s pain-relieving benefits are primarily positive, the researchers stressed that cannabis may cause addiction and potentially impact behavioral/cognitive functioning as a result of short-term impairment.

“Cannabis with high THC also causes mood elevation and adjusts attentional demands, likely distracting patients from the aversive sensations that people refer to (as) pain,” explained Vigil. However, the downside of using the Releaf App to collect self-reported data is that the consumers provided input based on personal experience, as opposed to the data being compiled inside a controlled clinical setting.

Of the individuals who participated in the survey, 13 percent feel that no other method of pain relief works for them and 34 percent wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to consult with a doctor before using medical cannabis.

UNM cannabis study: Most survey participants preferred THC, want more research to take place

Similar studies have been carried out in the past using the same application that the UNM researchers used.

Results of other studies using Releaf App data indicated that CBD may also provide symptomatic relief from anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia and epileptic seizures. Although the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD was also effective, THC came out better off.

Regardless, the vast majority of cannabis consumers who participated in the surveys claimed to experience fewer overall side effects from using cannabinoids, as opposed to opioids.

The study also revealed how 57 percent of people want more cannabis research to take place. Thankfully, medical cannabis research in the U.S. seems to be making headway, after Americans for Safe Access (ASA) recently endorsed the Medical Cannabis Research Act and the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act.

“As experts in managing pain, physician anesthesiologists are concerned about the lack of research regarding the safety and effectiveness of marijuana and cannabinoids,” said the President of ASA, Linda Mason, MD.

The UNM survey also revealed how 40 percent of Releaf App users wrongly think that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the CBD products currently being sold inside health and wellness stores, grocery stores and dispensaries.