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Hemp Oil Relieves Neuropathic Pain in Mice, Study Finds

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: May 22, 2020   
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While large, clinical doses of CBD have been shown to relieve pain in several studies, there is far less evidence on the pain alleviating abilities of over-the-counter CBD products.

But a new study suggests that such non-medical, commercial hemp oil can effectively treat neuropathic pain.

Dose the mouse

Many consumers purchase CBD and hemp products with the desire to relieve pain. Yet, these retail products aren’t medications. While they both contain CBD, approved cannabis-based medicines tend to have far higher levels of the key compound than over-the-counter hemp oils.

It’s partly why, in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strictly prohibits any medical claims in the marketing of retailed CBD products.

But the new study, published in the journal Life, challenges this retail-clinical dichotomy.

“The present study shows for the first time that common, commercially available, and easily reproducible full-spectrum hemp oil induces significant anti-allodynic effects,” the authors wrote in their conclusion.

To make this judgement, the researchers from the University of New Mexico first performed surgery on 12 mice to induce neuropathic pain. Each mouse had a tiny metal implement inserted into its skull. Over eight weeks of the experiment, this object created enough discomfort to be equivalent to several human years of chronic pain, according to the researchers.

In the seventh week, some mice were given peanut butter laced with hemp oil to eat, while others were given plain peanut butter. The mice’s whiskers were then probed and their subsequent behavior noted. The mice given hemp oil proved more ambivalent to the pain stimulation than the control group.

This reduction in pain, the researchers say, may be due to the combined actions of the oil’s CBD and terpenes molecules, the latter of which are known to have anti-inflammatory effects.

“Hemp plants contain numerous therapeutic constituents that likely contribute to analgesic responses, including terpenes and flavonoids, which in theory, work together like members of a symphony, often described as the entourage effect,” Jegason P Diviant, one of the study’s researchers, said in a statement.

CBD, cannabis, and pain

As the study was conducted on rodents, its authors warn that their conclusions may not be entirely applicable to humans.

Despite this limitation, the researchers are still confident in the ability of hemp oil to relieve people of chronic pain.

“This is an extremely exciting time in modern medical discovery, because the average citizen now has legal access to a completely natural and effective medication that can be easily and cheaply produced, simply by sticking a seed in the ground and caring for it as you would any other important part of your life,” Dr Jacob Miguel Vigil, an associate professor at the University of New Mexico and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement.

Another recent study, conducted on the first 400 patients to be prescribed CBD oil in New Zealand, found that the cannabinoid may be beneficial for treating non-cancer pain and mental health conditions.

But another recent review of approved CBD medicines found that the cannabis chemical was no different to placebos when it came to changing patients’ average cancer pain scores.

Speaking to Analytical Cannabis in September last year, cannabis-cancer researcher Dr David Meiri also voiced his scepticism on the pain-relieving properties of cannabis, but espoused a more holistic approach to treatment.

“If you look in very specific and narrow window on pain, you would say it's not good,” he said. “If you look how I think you should look on cannabis policy – more holistic and doing other things that are related to pain and depression, sleep, anxiety – now you're treating all of them and the patient is much, much better. If you look just to measure a very, very narrow question, then you will fail.”


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