DEC 21, 2022 8:00 AM PST

Pain relief from weed - real or placebo?

WRITTEN BY: Helaine Krysik

Numerous studies have been conducted over the years as to the medicinal benefits of cannabis. THC and CBD are now typically associated with alleviating conditions ranging from stress to anxiety to chronic pain. However, there is also research claiming that these effects are nothing but placebos.

According to one recent study, the placebo response amounted to 67% of the pain relief associated with genuine cannabinoids. As a result, some researchers strongly believe that patients’ expectations of relief play a big role in the efficacy of cannabis-based treatments.

Other studies go even further, issuing statements claiming there is no correlation between cannabis use and pain relief, that the evidence is not yet conclusive enough to draw any correlations.

Additionally, to muddy the waters, some studies have found that cannabis makes pain worse in some patients, causing those undergoing surgery to require more anesthesia, while in other patients, cannabis has no effect at all.

Considering that cannabis can cause side effects in some users such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and sleepiness, these placebo findings are concerning to researchers.

Further studies have also shown that patients consuming a sugar pill experienced the same level of pain relief as did the patients consuming cannabis.

Scientists believe that placebo effects come from the high profile that cannabis has in the media, as being the cure-all solution for everything, even though there is no medical evidence to support any such claims.

That said, there are just as many – if not more – studies claiming that cannabis does indeed provide pain relief in patients in several situations. The problem is that researchers still face barriers when it comes to studying the plant due to intense regulation. Cannabis is still on the list of federally controlled substances.

When cannabis is finally removed from the list, and research barriers are eliminated, scientists will be able to conduct non-biased studies as to what the plant can and cannot do.



Sources: JAMA Network, International Association for the Study of Pain, CNN, CNN

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Helaine is a cannabis industry writer and marketing consultant. She has been active in the Illinois cannabis industry since 2020, and writes for a variety of national publications.
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