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Microdosing THC May Be Optimal Pain Treatment, Study Finds

back pain
A woman experiencing back pain. (Aleksandr Davydov/123rf)

Just 1 milligram or even 0.5 mg of THC could be an optimal dose to relieve chronic pain, according to a recent study. 

Published in the European Journal of Pain, the study found that the administration by inhaler of 0.5 milligrams of THC “demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity compared with baseline.” A 1 mg dose was found to reduce pain levels even further.

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The researchers found that the “there was no evidence of consistent impairments in cognitive performance.” 

microdosing cannabis
The Syqe inhaler used to deliver microdoses of 0.5 milligrams of cannabis. (Courtesy)

Some of the researchers are employees or consultants for Syqe Medical, an Israeli pharmatech company that developed the inhaler for administering microdoses of THC, which was used in the study. 

The company’s CEO, Perry Davidson, said in a press release that the study indicates that medical professionals can treat medical cannabis patients with higher precision “resulting in fewer side effects and an overall more effective treatment.” 

Researchers describe the study as being motivated largely by the desire to find a cannabis-based treatment that relieves pain, without producing the intoxicating effects of THC. 

The trial was a randomized, three‐armed, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, cross‐over study of patients suffering from chronic pain. During the trial, the patients continued to use their regular daily medications, including opioids. 

During each visit to the testing facility, the patients were given a single inhalation of either 0.5 or 1 milligrams of THC, or a placebo, assigned randomly. 

Of the 27 patients, 21 were suffering from chronic focal or distal symmetric neuropathic pain and six from complex regional pain syndrome. 

“A clinically meaningful mean pain reduction of 25% and 39% were observed following a single dose inhalation of 0.5 and 1.0 mg THC, respectively. Both doses resulted in a notable reduction in pain intensity: 63.64% of the patients in 0.5 mg dose, and more than 69.57% of the patients in 1.0 mg dose,” the researchers wrote. 

Chronic pain is the number one qualifying health condition for medical marijuana recipients in the United States. According to a study published in March, neuropathic pain is best treated with low THC cannabis, with a concentration of around 5-10%. 

This runs counter to the popular belief that high THC cannabis strains — and high doses — are best for treating pain. An earlier study published in 2008 found that cannabis strains of 3.5% to 7% THC could provide significant relief from neuropathic pain.

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