Cannabinoid agonists for chronic neuropathic pain: randomised, crossover, double blind study
Cannabinoid agonists help in nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, but are they effective for pain? Elizabeth Loder looks at a study that compared a cannabinoid agonist with a weak opioid
- By: Elizabeth Loder
Chronic pain caused by nerve damage is common and can be difficult to manage. Drugs for pain, especially opioids, are typical treatments but may have undesirable effects, such as constipation or impaired alertness. They also may not provide sufficient pain relief. So a large group of patients with chronic neuropathic pain exists for whom different or better treatments are needed.
Some of these patients try alternative methods to control pain, including marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in marijuana and works through agonist activity at cannabinoid 1 and 2 receptors. Nabilone is a synthetic cannabinoid agonist that is more potent than naturally occurring THC. It is approved in the United Kingdom and the United States for the treatment of nausea induced by chemotherapy, but its impact on pain is less certain.
The authors of this study say that previous animal work and one human study indicate a possible role