Cannabis extract gives powerful relief for chronic pain, and should be studied for future clinical use, a medical researcher has told a conference in Glasgow.
Dr William Notcutt of the James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth, England, said the cannabis extract used in his study - applied as a spray under the tongue - was remarkably effective in easing chronic pain. He announced the findings at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
"The cannabis extracts can produce high-quality pain relief, symptom control, and improvement in the quality of life, without significant side effects," said Dr Notcutt.He tested cannabis extracts collected from cloned plants, in 23 sufferers of chronic pain.
Subjects were mostly patients with multiple sclerosis or spinal injury. Nine had used marijuana regularly in the past, while the remainder were 'naïve': they had either not used it at all, or had tried it infrequently.
The cannabinoid extract was given over eight weeks, and participants' pain levels monitored. Asked to rate their improvement in pain relief on a scale from one to 10, the majority rated it at "between 9 and 10".
Without their knowledge, a placebo was introduced during the trial, and later replaced with cannabinoid. When the extract was removed, pain levels shot up 20 to 30 per cent, and subsequently dropped off once the extract was again provided.
Dr Notcutt said subjects reported improvements ranging from 'life-changing' to allowing them to get a good night's sleep. One subject had returned to work; others had started driving, gardening and caring for children again.