Cannabinoids may increase pain tolerability – latest findings

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cannabis, cannabinoids, rheumatic disease, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis digest magazineCannabinoids seems to increase the level of pain people can tolerate, according to new research in JAMA Psychiatry.

Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids and there are lots of these. Two important ones are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, which is responsible for a euphoric “high” so is to be avoided) and cannabidiol, which seems to have health benefits.

Cannabinoid drugs are increasingly used to relieve pain, but research has produced mixed findings. Now a review and analysis of 18 studies including 442 adults found that cannabinoid drugs were associated with modest increases in experimental pain threshold and tolerance, no reduction in the intensity of ongoing experimental pain, reduced perceived unpleasantness of painful stimuli, and no reduction of mechanical hyperalgesia (decreased pain pressure threshold).

The research highlights how cannabinoids may actually work. The team comments:

“Cannabinoid drugs may prevent the onset of pain by producing small increases in pain thresholds but may not reduce the intensity of experimental pain already being experienced; instead, cannabinoids may make experimental pain feel less unpleasant and more tolerable, suggesting an influence on affective processes. Cannabis-induced improvements in pain-related negative affect may underlie the widely held belief that cannabis relieves pain.”

Click here to read the original findings.

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