THC as a Potential Treatment for Neuropathic Pain
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is one of the natural compounds found in cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana. THC is the psychoactive compound that creates the “high” associated with cannabis use. It interacts with the body’s cannabinoid receptors. This interaction leads to the release of neurotransmitters, including large amounts of dopamine. As a result, it can change mood, behavior, and how pain is experienced.
Medical benefits of THC
THC also has several medicinal purposes; however, there is still a large stigma behind THC and marijuana products. Medicinal use of THC for the treatment of pain is becoming widespread. Neuropathic pain, or nerve pain, is caused when the nervous system is not working properly or becomes damaged. Research indicates that THC could be an effective treatment for chronic neuropathic pain.
Small studies found that THC provides benefits, such as decreased pain, enhanced quality sleep, improved functioning, and reduced psychological distress. However, adverse effects, such as impaired cognition, respiratory issues, throat irritation, dizziness, and headaches, are common, especially at high doses. Studies found that pain relief is not greater with higher doses of THC.
Data concerning the long-term safety of THC treatments is limited. Studies also have limitations, including low quality, exclusion of female patients due to hormone fluctuation during menstruation, small size, short duration, inconsistent formulations, and study designs.
Additional research is needed to reach conclusive results, but evidence points toward THC being effective in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. Information on long-term effectiveness and safety are not yet available.