Cannabis is used very commonly around the world for medical reasons. One of the most common reasons is pain reduction. But it is no better than a placebo!
Based on the national US survey, 17% of the people using cannabis had a prescription for medical cannabis. However, considering self-medication, the numbers are higher; estimated to be between 17 to 30%.
Although cannabis-derived products are used in reducing pain, their effectiveness is still unknown. Hence, a systemic review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers sought to uncover this. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It suggests that cannabis is no better at relieving pain than a placebo.
They studied the results of randomized controlled trials where cannabis was compared with placebo for clinical pain treatment. Moreover, studies involving changes in pain intensity before and after the treatment were also included. A total of 20 studies were looked at, which comprised 1500 people.
Treatment with Cannabis and Placebo
The studies included studied multiple pain conditions. For example, neuropathic pain and multiple sclerosis. Moreover, different types of cannabis products were also included, which were THC, CBD, and synthetic cannabis. Additionally, the treatment was administered in pills, oils, sprays, and smoked.
Most of the study participants were female (62%) and their ages were between 33 and 62. The studies mainly had been conducted in UK, USA, and Canada. However, studies from some European countries were also included. They included Brazil, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Israel, Spain, and the Czech Republic.
The meta-analysis revealed that pain was less intense after the placebo treatment and the effect was large or moderate depending on the person. Moreover, the team did not see any difference between cannabis and placebo in pain reduction. In fact, the meta-analysis found that based on the blinding procedures, people had higher responses to placebo.