Case Closed: Marijuana and Neuropathic Pain

Aug 20, 2008

HIV/AIDS, Medical Marijuana, neuropathy, pain, science

While some medical uses of marijuana remain controversial, a new study of marijuana and HIV-related neuropathy published online in early August by the journal Neuropsychopharmacology closes the case regarding one important indication: neuropathic pain. 

Neuropathic pain -- pain from damage to the nerves -- can be caused by any number of conditions, including HIV (as in this study), diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. And it is notoriously resistant to conventional pain drugs, as the article notes. The patients in this study, conducted at UC San Diego, still suffered significant pain despite being on a variety of pain drugs. Two-thirds were taking opioid narcotics and still suffering.

Marijuana didn't work for every patient, but on average, pain declined from "strong" to "mild to moderate," accompanied by "similar improvements in total mood disturbance, physical disability, and quality of life." For the vast majority of patients, side effects were relatively mild.

This is the third published clinical trial to demonstrate that marijuana can safely and effectively relieve neuropathic pain, following a UC Davis study published in April and a UC San Francisco study published in February 2007.

Remember, this is a type of pain for which there are no good, universally effective treatments, and which causes suffering for millions. Marijuana works. Case closed.