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Research_

Pain in cannabis users

Cannabis use and pain sensitivity

Chronic opiate users often show paradoxical hypersensitivity to painful stimuli. What about chronic cannabis users?

Project overview

Chronic opiate users are often hypersensitive to painful stimuli. This is most likely due to the downregulation of their endogenous opioid pain-control mechanisms. Medicinal cannabis is frequently used for chronic pain and it is possible that chronic cannabis use might also downregulate endocannabinoid pain control systems, leading to pain hypersensitivity.

To address this hypothesis, we have conducted a small pilot study to examine whether regular cannabis users exhibit differential sensitivity and tolerance of pain relative to non-cannabis users, using controls on the Cold Pressor Test (CPT). We also examined plasma cannabinoid, endocannabinoid and cortisol levels. Twenty-one males were recruited to the study (10 cannabis users, 11 control). All gave a negative saliva test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) prior to entering the experiment.

Results, which are currently being written up for publication, show that cannabis users appear to have raised plasma endocannabinoid levels and reduced pain sensitivity and better pain tolerance than controls. These results will be presented at the International Cannabinoid Research Society meeting in Montreal in June 2017.

The study was completed in 2016.

Associate Professsor David Allsop
Thomas Arkell
Jessica Driels
Bridin Murnion
Professor Nick Lintzeris
Professor Iain McGregor

Jordyn Stuart

Experimental and pilot.

The Lambert Initiative.

Results indicated that cannabis users had improved pain tolerance and reduced pain sensitivity relative to controls, blunted basal and stress-induced cortisol responses, as well as elevated basal levels of a number of endocannabinoids. This suggests a possible endocannabinoid response to pain.

The study is currently being written up for publication and results will be presented at the International Cannabinoid Research Society meeting in Montreal in June 2017.

This study has been completed. For further information contact:

Associate Professor David Allsop
E: david.allsop@sydney.edu.au
Ph: +61 2 93517665