Cannabinoids and Pain Management

Pain is a normal part of our lives. It’s a way for our bodies to protect themselves from damage. But if pain becomes too strong or chronic, something needs to be done about it. When it comes to the management of strong or chronic pain, opioids are usually the go-to. However, they come with a serious - if not unavoidable - risk of addiction and other side effects. And this is where cannabinoids enter the scene! Let’s have a deeper look at the findings from a recent scientific review highlighting their therapeutic capabilities and applications in the treatment of pain. 

Cannabinoids for Pain: The Current Landscape

As Cannabinoids come with a history of prohibition that prevented comprehensive research for a long time, organisations like the International Association for the Study of Pain and the European Society for Medical Oncology are always extra cautious when it comes to recommending them for treatment. But they can no longer ignore the emerging research showing their potential. Even when they are used alongside the dreaded opioids, they have demonstrated great effectiveness in pain relief and also seem to mitigate the risk of respiratory issues, which are a common opioid side effect. 

The Pain Spectrum: Cannabinoids to the Rescue

One of the great things about cannabinoids for pain relief is that they seem effective for various types of chronic pain, including neuropathic, musculoskeletal, and cancer-related pain. They can help patients suffering from pain after finishing rounds of chemotherapy - a common condition for many survivors. Cannabinoids are also used to treat geriatric pain in the elderly and HIV-associated neuropathic discomfort. 

The Science Behind the Relief

Cannabinoids interact with the body's endocannabinoid system, a complex neuromodulatory network of neurotransmitters and receptors in our central nervous system. They mainly seem to interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to modulate pain. These interactions are what’s leading to a decrease in pain signalling. 

Challenges and Controversies of Cannabinoids for Pain

Despite all the very promising evidence, cannabinoids are still not as widely accepted in pain management as they should be. Many doctors and patients have concerns about the effects of certain doses of THC, as it could lead to intoxication (the “high”) and dizziness. Another difficulty is the high variability of how people respond to cannabinoids. We need more research to effectively tailor treatments and more healthcare professionals taking the time to help their patients find their ideal dosage. 

The Road Ahead: Innovation and Research

To address some of the challenges mentioned above, new administration methods and devices like precision-dosing inhalers and capsules are being developed. Research into nano-emulsification and topical applications is making the use of cannabinoids more effective for certain conditions. The ongoing research aims to fully tap into the pain-killing potential of cannabinoids - going beyond the main players THC and CBD and also involving lesser known components of the plant. 

Cannabinoids for Pain: The Future

As the science around cannabinoids for pain treatment continues to evolve, we can already be cautiously optimistic about the future. Certainly, with more high-quality research they will become indispensable, natural tools in the fight against chronic pain - offering help and hope to millions of sufferers. 

Portrait of Anna Falk

written by

anna falk - head of product

As the Head of Product at Harmony, Dr Anna Falk leads the development of our products and provides expert tips for your wellness. With over 10 years of experience in the research and development of natural products, her work is based on rigorous scientific studies.

Anna is an award-winning, internationally published researcher with a PhD in Organic Chemistry. She applies her expertise to develop Harmony's certified products that support your overall well-being. From research to development, she ensures that our products are of the highest quality and meet the highest standards.