The Role of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Chronic Pain Management: An Assessment of Current Evidence

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Given the growing challenges in chronic pain management coupled with the ongoing consequences of the opioid epidemic, pain management practitioners are looking into more effective, innovative, and safer alternatives to treat pain. Cannabis-based medicine had been described for hundreds of years but only recently have we seen the more scientific, evidence-based approach to its use, and ongoing investigations continue to explore its potential medical benefits. While historically more attention has been paid to the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there have been fewer scientific studies on the medical use of the cannabidiol (CBD) – a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

Recent Findings

By examining recent literature, we investigated the use of CBD and its potential role in pain management. Since there are currently no approved pharmaceutical products that contain CBD alone for the management of pain, this review focused on nabiximols (which is a combined product of THC/CBD in a 1:1 ratio) as the only pharmaceutical product available that contains CBD and is being used for the management of pain. It is difficult to definitely attribute the therapeutic properties to CBD alone since it is always administered with THC. Based on the available literature, it is difficult to make a recommendation for the use of CBD in chronic pain management. It is also important to note that there are many CBD products currently available as supplements, but these products are non-pharmaceuticals and lack the appropriate clinical studies to support their efficacy claims.

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Correspondence to Richard D. Urman.

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Boyaji, S., Merkow, J., Elman, R.N. et al. The Role of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Chronic Pain Management: An Assessment of Current Evidence. Curr Pain Headache Rep 24, 4 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-020-0835-4

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Keywords

  • Cannabidiol
  • CBD
  • Pain
  • Treatment
  • Efficacy
  • Cannabinoids
  • THC