June 2023

New Cannabis Guidelines for Chronic Pain

New clinical guidelines on the use of cannabinoids in chronic pain management have been released. Here’s the latest.

Overall, the guidelines don’t present any new groundbreaking evidence supporting the use of cannabis for chronic pain, but they do provide practical advice for counseling patients on cannabis use and tips for dosing. A total of 47 studies, including 22 randomized-controlled trials were evaluated. Based on a review of the evidence, a strong recommendation is made for using cannabinoids alone or as an adjunct treatment in people with chronic pain, including central and peripheral neuropathic pain. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-predominant formulations appear to be more effective than cannabidiol (CBD), although the studies included a variety of cannabinoids and formulations.

As for safety concerns, THC is associated with more adverse events than CBD. But the adverse events associated with THC are less serious than the adverse events associated with standard pain medications, such as opioids. The guidelines recommend slowly introducing cannabinoids to patients who aren’t responding well to opioids or who are taking high doses. The potential benefits from THC outweigh the risks.

We recently updated all of our cannabinoid and cannabinoid-containing ingredient monographs with the latest evidence, including the recommendations from these new guidelines. To learn more about specific uses and doses, review our cannabis, THC, and CBD monographs.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.