A study from Oregon Health and Science University and published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests the chemicals in cannabis could effectively treat chronic pain without the addictive side effects that traditional opioids would produce. Opioids are traditionally prescribed to treat pain, but they carry the risk of addiction, abuse, and overdose which can be fatal. Cannabis, on the other hand, could be a much safer alternative options as it has been found to reduce various types of pain, including those that are resistant to traditional treatment methods, without posing the same risks as opioids.
In this new study, lead researchers Ming-Hua Li, Katherine L. Suchland, and Susan L. Ingram used a rodent model to analyze the interactions between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. When it comes to chronic inflammatory pain, Ingram said, “We found that CB1 receptors — the receptor that is associated with addictive properties of the drug — are decreased. But that CB2 receptor activity is increased. Cannabis actually activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors equally. But it’s known that CB2 receptors can decrease pain.” These findings suggest cannabis could reduce pain while limiting tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Researchers concluded cannabis's analgesic properties could provide a new pain management therapy with much fewer side effects.