Cannabis has been found to effectively alleviate cancer pain in patients, according to a study carried out by Canadian researchers at McGill University.
Published in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, the study involved 358 cancer patients who consumed cannabis as an additional treatment for one year. The subjects experienced a significant reduction in their pain levels within just three months of starting the treatment and the relief was sustained throughout the study.
Patients who consumed cannabis flowers containing similar levels of THC and CBD experienced the greatest relief from their pain, the study found. While some patients reported side effects from the cannabis, these were generally categorised as non-serious. The most common side effects were sleepiness and fatigue.
“We found MC [medical cannabis] to be a safe and effective treatment option to help with cancer pain relief. THC/CBD balanced products appear to perform better as compared with THC-dominant and CBD-dominant products,” researchers said. “Furthermore, we observed consistent decreases in medication burden and opioid use in our patient population. Hence, our data suggest a role for MC as a safe and complementary treatment option in patients with cancer failing to reach adequate pain relief through conventional analgesics, such as opioids.”
Another recent study, published in Exploration of Medicine, found that cannabis use among patients with cancer helped relieve pain and improve sleep quality as well as subjective cognitive function.
Over a 2-week period, patients reported significant improvements in sleep quality from baseline as well as lower pain intensity, particularly among those reporting higher use of CBD use. Patients also reported being able to think more clearly.
“We thought we might see some problems with cognitive function,” senior author Angela Bryan, MD, professor of psychology and neuroscience at University of Colorado, Boulder said. But “we found that when patients’ pain levels came down after using cannabis for a while, their cognition got better.”