A Meta-Analysis & Meta-Regression
A recent meta-analysis has found that cannabis is an effective treatment for those dealing with chronic pain. Researchers analyzed studies that compared cannabinoid-based therapies to placebos, concluding that those therapies served as an effective replacement or adjunctive therapy for more common pain relievers, such as opioids. Some studies included in the analysis disqualified the effectiveness of cannabinoids due to the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but the featured piece suggests future work should aim to synthesize cannabinoids that highlight cannabis’s analgesic effects while minimizing any psychoactive effects. Future research needs to discover more about the endocannabinoid mechanism within the body before this can occur.
The authors take care to emphasize the need for alternative pain therapies for opioids that are safer and more economically responsible. Currently, pain-related costs from patients, caretakers, and healthcare facilities continue to grow beyond $600-billion annually, as more people grow dependent on opioids. Cannabis is much more cost-effective, and even if it does not entirely replace opioid therapies and is simply an adjunct therapy, it has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of opioid prescribed and lower the necessary dose. Opioids are highly addictive whereas cannabis has a much better safety profile, yet cannabis is still deemed medically irrelevant by the federal government. More research needs to be conducted to reduce the chance of addiction, the opioid crisis in general, and reduce the economic burden of pain-related costs in the United States.