Find out what science says about the use of cannabis to treat chronic pain

Find out what science says about the use of cannabis to treat chronic pain

Chronic pain is one of the main reasons many patients turn to medical cannabis in the United States. Although there are more than 30 states that allow the use of marijuana to treat a variety of health problems, there are still limitations imposed by the federal government on the research and approval of cannabis-based medications.

Join us for a look at the scientific evidence behind the use of cannabis (specifically THC) to treat chronic pain and what results have been obtained.

What is chronic pain and how does it affect patients?

Unlike acute pain, which is a temporary response of the body to an injury or illness, chronic pain persists for prolonged periods, usually more than three months. This condition is debilitating and significantly affects patients’ quality of life.

Patients with chronic pain often experience symptoms such as muscle stiffness, sleeplessness, fatigue and depression. These symptoms limit patients’ ability to carry out daily activities and enjoy a full life.

How does cannabis work to treat chronic pain?

Cannabis contains more than 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) being the best known and most studied.

The combination of its compounds provides cannabis with potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve chronic pain. In addition, it has been shown to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, which reduces pain perception and improves patients’ mood.

Scientific evidence behind the use of cannabis against chronic pain

A 15-state analysis published in the journal Health Affairs found that about two-thirds of the reasons given for marijuana use were related to chronic pain. This shows that the public is becoming increasingly informed about cannabis and its potential benefits against this condition.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the scientific evidence is based primarily on studies of pharmaceutical products based on marijuana ingredients, not on studies of marijuana smoked or ingested as food.

Although this is a limitation in the research, the results so far are encouraging.

What conditions are approved for the use of cannabis as a treatment?

Conditions approved for the use of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain vary from state to state. In general, a physician must certify that a patient has an approved diagnosis in order to access medical cannabis programs.

Some of the common approved conditions are:


Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease characterized by widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues. Many fibromyalgia patients have reported that cannabis use has helped them relieve pain and improve their quality of life.

Multiple Sclerosis

Muscle stiffness is one of the common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Several studies have shown that this compound has helped reduce muscle stiffness and improve mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Chemotherapy-related nausea

Chemotherapy causes nausea and vomiting in patients.

Cannabis has been shown to have antiemetic properties, helping patients undergoing chemotherapy to calm nausea and improve their appetite.

Science’s view on the use of cannabis for chronic pain

Science has recognized the potential of cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain.

A 2017 report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine highlighted existing evidence in support of cannabis use to relieve chronic pain in adults.

However, it is also important to note that not all conditions have been shown to benefit from cannabis use. Conditions such as dementia and glaucoma have not shown strong results in scientific studies, although some states still include them on their lists of permitted conditions.


Without a doubt, medical cannabis may be a promising option for those who suffer from chronic pain and are looking for a natural, low-harm alternative to relieve their aches and pains.

Use of cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain has gained high-level scientific recognition in both the medical community and society at large due to its excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

It is important that patients consult their physicians before starting any cannabis treatment and comply with state laws and regulations.