In the wake of cannabis legalization in Canada, a team of scientists has delivered encouraging news for chronic pain sufferers by pinpointing the effective dose of marijuana plant extract cannabidiol for safe pain relief without the typical “high” or euphoria that THC produces. The findings of their study have been published in the journal PAIN.
Cannabis indica and sativa are the two main cannabis strains that produce the pharmacological principles known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The team demonstrated that CBD does not act on the CB1 cannabinoid receptors like THC, but through the mechanism that binds specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).
“In animal models of neuropathic or chronic pain, we found that low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated,” says the study’s first author Danilo De Gregorio, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.
Lead author Gabriella Gobbi sees this as a new advancement for the evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine with CBD likely offering a safe alternative to THC and opioids for chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, diabetic, cancer, or post-trauma pain.
“Our findings elucidate the mechanism of action of CBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC,” says Gobbi, a professor of psychiatry.
Despite widespread public usage, little clinical studies exist on CBD, which became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, following the passage of Canada’s Cannabis Act.