By Dr. L. Tennant

Neuropathic pain is a state of chronic pain of mild to severe intensity that usually originates from tissue or nerve injury, causing the nerve fibres to ´misfire´ and send erroneous pain signals to pain centres. The causes of neuropathic pain are diverse and for many patients can be hard to pinpoint, the symptoms are however very real; patients experience a range of pain symptoms, from constant burning to episodic shooting pain. Despite a number of medication options, management of the disease is challenging and between 40-60% of patients cannot be treated adequately.

These patients often turn to alternative means in the attempt to manage their pain symptoms, notably medical cannabis, since the analgesic properties of the plant are well supported by patients and a growing body of scientific and clinical data. The analgesic effect of medical cannabis is brought about by active molecules contained in the plant which act like nerve `circuit breakers´, essentially blocking the erroneous pain signals and the associated symptoms.

In this article we focus on a clinical trial conducted in 2013 at UC Davies, which was carried out specifically to address concerns over psychoactivity and smoking and to evaluate a viable alternative. The study evaluated the analgesic effects of low and medium THC doses of vaporized cannabis compared with placebo. In this study, 39 patients suffering from central and peripheral neuropathic pain were given vaporized cannabis at a low dose (1.29% THC), medium dose (3.53% THC) or placebo. Before and during the study, neither the participant or the clinical staff or researchers knew which preparation the patients were taking (a.k.a. a double blinded study). Pain relief and psychoactive side effects were measured and balanced and after statistical analysis the data showed that vaporized cannabis was effective at relieving pain (a 30% reduction compared to placebo) and that both the low and medium THC potency strains were equally effective. Some of the undesirable effects of cannabis were noted in the study, such as psychological and cognitive effects, but these were mild and were considered acceptable by the patients in the context of managing chronic pain. Sensations of feeling ´high´were reported less in the patients that were given the low dose than the medium dose, and the overall perception was positive towards the use of vaporized cannabis.

In conclusion, vaporized cannabis at low dose is a viable option for patients that are suffering from neuropathic pain and provides a means to balance the analgesic effects of medical cannabis with concerns over the risks of smoking and the psychoactive effects of the plant.

Amongst D.S. & FITZ strains, patients claim the most effective for the treatment of neuropathic pain are Ambrosia and Embrace for their medium potency THC combined with medium potency CBD. To view these D.S. & FITZ strains, click here.

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