Are cannabis-derived cannabinoids the ultimate panacea to the opioid crisis? A new study that was published recently in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research has made interesting revelations on the safety and effectiveness of cannabinoids versus opioids in treating chronic pain. From the study, it emerged that cannabinoids (THC and CBD) have a greater benefit-safety profile compared to opioids used to manage chronic neuropathic pain.
Neuropathic pain, simply known as nerve pain, is termed chronic when it persists for more than three months. The pain is usually sharp and burning and is likely to be debilitating. The causes vary and include diabetes and cystitis among others. Traditional treatment for neuropathic pain includes the use of anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and opioids.
The study was conducted by a team of pain specialists and psychiatrists, patient representatives, and scientists. 12 different pharmacological treatments including THC and CBD were considered for the study. The researchers sought to compare the safety and benefits of the drug compounds. The researchers created a model (multicriterion decision analysis) to score the performance of each drug in terms of safety and clinical benefits.
Here's what the research revealed:
- A combination of THC and CBD in a ratio of 1:1 had the highest score (79)
- CBD dominant treatment followed with a score of 74
- THC dominant treatment came third with a score of 72
- Duloxetine and Gabapentin's scored in the 60s
- Amitriptyline, Tramadol, and Ibuprofen scored in the 50s
- Methadone and Oxycodone scored in the 40s
- Morphine and Fentanyl scored in the 30s
An analysis of the results showed that a THC and CBD combination provided significantly higher safety benefits so much so that even if the pain reduction and quality of life score was halved it wouldn't change the result.
What does this mean?
When THC and CBD are combined in equal ratios they provide a safer and more effective treatment for neuropathic pain compared to the traditional treatments. While the combination had a score of 79, opioids had a score that ranged between the 30s- 60s. This supports previous research that suggests that Cannabinoids can help with the opioid epidemic crisis that's ravaging millions in its wake.