Research finds THC more effective than CBD for treating pain

  • Researchers in the USA claim different levels of THC more important in treating chronic pain than CBD
  • Over 3,000 patients self-reported their medical cannabis experience were surveyed
  • “THC generates measurable improvements in symptom relief.”

A new study has found evidence that THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, is more effective than CBD for treating medical conditions such as chronic pain.

Analysing self-reported data collected from over three thousand medical cannabis patients, researchers at the University of New Mexico have provided further evidence to challenge the misconception that THC has limited medical potential.

Researchers collected the data via the ReleafApp, which helps patients track & learn which types of cannabis, dosing, and ingestion methods work best for them, where 3,300 patients logged responses in nearly 20,000 sessions.

The most commonly used product researchers found medical cannabis patients are using for chronic pain was dried flower (the same that politicians call “street cannabis” or “skunk”.)

Dried flower was overall more associated with greater relief for chronic pain than other methods, such as edibles, tinctures and ointments, regardless of the THC content.

Researchers found that cannabis “containing the middle (10–19%) and highest (20–35%) THC potency levels was associated with greater symptom improvement than flower in the lowest THC potency category (0–9%),” whereas variation in CBD levels “was not associated with differences in symptom improvement.”

Variations between Sativa and Indica strains of cannabis had influence over a patient’s overall experience with cannabis.

According to the report, patients using Indica strains had a “greater likelihood of reporting negative side effects and some evidence of fewer positive and more context-specific side effects, relative to hybrid- and Sativa-based products.“

Discussing the results of the study, Jacob Miguel Vigil, PhD, a professor in UNM’s Department of Psychology said:

“Despite the conventional wisdom, both in the popular press and much of the scientific community that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits.

“In our study, CBD appears to have little effect at all, while THC generates measurable improvements in symptom relief.

“Only THC potency levels showed independent associations with symptom relief and experiences of both positive and negative side effects, with higher levels (of THC) resulting in larger effects.

“These findings justify the immediate de-scheduling of all types of cannabis, in addition to hemp, so that cannabis with THC can be more widely accessible for pharmaceutical use by the general public.”

In our study, CBD appears to have little effect at all, while THC generates measurable improvements in symptom relief.
– Jacob Miguel Vigil, PhD, a professor in UNM’s Department of Psychology

Due to federal regulations restricting clinical trials on cannabis, researchers find it difficult to produce data. Apps like ReleafApp are providing researchers with the data they are unable to collect themselves.

Three co-authors of the study helped develop the ReleafApp, which has collected information from cannabis users since 2016.

From the study, we can that patients suffering from chronic pain are seeing greater results with strains higher in THC, which according to the British Government is apparently detrimental to our health, opposed to CBD, which is legally available from thousands of retailers in the UK.

More research like the study conducted at the University of New Mexico should be encouraged, which values the opinion of patients as important to building policy on medical cannabis.

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