Survey Reveals Patients Find Marijuana as Effective as Opioids for Neuropathy Treatment, with High-THC Cannabis Prevalently Employed

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Fresh insights from a recent survey reveal that marijuana stands on equal footing with opioids when it comes to alleviating neuropathy symptoms. What’s particularly intriguing is that a majority of individuals grappling with this often agonizing condition opt for cannabis containing over 20 percent THC, prompting queries about the validity of previous investigations that relied on government-cultivated marijuana, which generally boasts lower potency.

NuggMD, a firm facilitating the connection between patients and medical cannabis practitioners, meticulously polled 603 individuals who attributed their use of marijuana to neuropathy—either as the primary or secondary reason. Given pain’s prominence among neuropathy’s symptoms, participants were asked to rate their pain levels on a scale of 1 to 10, both before and after employing cannabis as a remedy.

The outcomes, exclusively shared with Marijuana Moment, are resoundingly positive. The study reveals, “The average pain level before cannabis use was 7.64, while the average pain level after cannabis use was 3.44.” This equates to an “average pain relief level of 4.2 out of 10 for participants.”

This level of relief is akin to, if not surpassing, the relief typically associated with conventional treatments such as prescription opioids, as corroborated by earlier research. For instance, a 2017 randomized trial demonstrated that neuropathy patients scored the pain-relieving effects of different combinations, including oxycodone and acetaminophen, at similar levels.

Curiously, however, a mere ten states explicitly recognize neuropathy as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis.

The researchers underscore that while “escalating cannabinoid dosages did not invariably translate to heightened relief,” patients generally found solace in higher potency cannabis exceeding 20 percent THC. This could potentially account for why previous studies that relied on lower THC cannabis yielded findings differing from those of NuggMD.

“Our survey results demonstrated that individuals using high-THC cannabis found more significant pain relief for their neuropathy,” the authors explain. They further emphasize that much of the research on cannabis and pain pertains to products with a THC potency below 20 percent, often yielding claims of THC’s inefficacy in pain alleviation.

A significant majority of surveyed neuropathy patients (58.6 percent) attested to using cannabis flower with THC content surpassing 20 percent. Smaller fractions opted for concentrates (26.3 percent) or flower below 20 percent THC (11.1 percent), while a minority chose non-inhalable products (3.9 percent).

In essence, the patients who deemed cannabis effective primarily gravitated toward higher-potency variants—readily available in many state-legal markets and notably more robust than government-sourced cannabis utilized in research.

The report highlights that “the most constant variable was the use of high-potency cannabis with a THC content of 20 percent or more.” This finding carries significance, as much of the research into cannabis efficacy for pain involves products with potency lower than 20 percent THC. These studies often result in assertions of THC’s limited pain-relieving potential.

For years, federally sanctioned marijuana research mandated the use of cannabis from a single farm under the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The quality of this “research-grade” marijuana has been widely criticized, with chemical profiles resembling industrial hemp rather than commercial cannabis.

Recently, this monopoly on research cannabis cultivation was broken as additional manufacturers gained DEA approval to cultivate a diverse range of cannabis strains. Nonetheless, the survey intimates that previous research into cannabis’s effectiveness for neuropathy might have been compromised due to the exclusive reliance on low-THC products.

Congressional concerns about scientists’ lack of access to representative cannabis have been voiced, and reform efforts have progressed in both chambers, though without definitive success. Despite legislation signed by President Joe Biden aimed at streamlining cannabis research, provisions allowing scientists to access retail cannabis for research purposes were omitted from the final bill.

NuggMD’s study results, while emphasizing that they don’t establish causal evidence of cannabis’s efficacy for neuropathic pain, underscore the strong preference for medical marijuana over alternative treatments among patients. Interestingly, a majority of respondents indicated that they would rather endure symptoms (128) than resort to opioids (112) if medical marijuana were unavailable. A portion would even opt for alcohol (36), despite its potential association with neuropathy.

Chief Medical Officer of NuggMD, Brian Kessler, remarked, “For many patients, medical marijuana offers a safer alternative that improves their quality of life.”

This survey adds to the burgeoning collection of scientific literature showcasing medical cannabis as a credible substitute for conventional pharmaceuticals. Another study this month demonstrated that marijuana use is correlated with an enhanced quality of life across multiple domains. Furthermore, consistent cannabis consumption was linked to better cognition and reduced pain among cancer patients and individuals undergoing chemotherapy, as evidenced by research from the University of Colorado. Additionally, states with legalized medical marijuana witnessed significant drops in health insurance premiums compared to regions where cannabis remains entirely prohibited, according to an International Journal of Drug Policy study.

In summation, the survey from NuggMD sheds light on cannabis’s potential to equal—and in some cases, surpass—the efficacy of opioids for neuropathy treatment, suggesting a promising avenue for those seeking pain relief with fewer adverse effects.

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