The efficacy of CBD for treating pain is a widely assumed fact, but there is little scientific research to back these claims up. THC remains the only chemical found in cannabis that has been studied. THC can relieve pain, but medical practitioners remain wary of its limitations because of its psychoactive effects and potential for abuse.
Minor cannabinoids and some terpenes may have analgesic (pain fighting) properties. There remains 110 cannabinoids and 120 terpenes that have yet to be studied.
To narrow the knowledge gap a part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the National Center for complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), is funding nine new research awards to the sum of $3 million.
Their goal is to study the potential pain-relieving properties and mechanisms of actions for phytochemicals in cannabis. As a possible alternative to opioids, there is an urgent need to find safer options that aren’t habit-forming and remain effective long term.
The nine studies will look at how cannabinoids work, if they do, what they do in the body and how they may be used in medicine for pain management. The studies include:
1. Boston Children’s Hospital – Mechanism and Optimization of CBD-Mediated Analgesic Effects
This study will look at how cannabinoids can be modulated by potassium-chloride cotransporter 2, a chloride extruder expressed in most neurons.
2. University of California – Neuroimmune Mechanisms of Minor Cannabinoids in Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain
This study will look at the effect of cannabinoids on inflammatory and neuropathic pain in vitro (outside the body) and in vivo (inside a living organism), focusing on how peripheral Receptor TRPV1 and cannabinoid receptor CB1R interact with them.
3. Research Triangle Institute – Minor Cannabinoids and Terpenes: Preclinical Evaluation as Analgesics
Will evaluate isolated cannabinoids and terpenes individually and in combination to look at pain relief for acute thermal, inflammatory, neuropathic, and visceral pain.
4. New York Univesity School of Medicine – Identifying the Mechanism of Action for CBD on Chronic arthritis Pain
The project will evaluate the effects of CBD on chronic pain associate with osteoarthritis
5. University of Texas – Synthetic Biology for the Chemogenetic Manipulation of Pain Pathways
This project will look at how minor cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2).
6. University of Utah – Exploring the Mechanisms Underlying the Analgesic Effect of Cannabidiol Using Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
This study will use proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to look at changes in brain chemistry after taking CBD.
7. Emory University – Mechanistic Studies of Analgesic Effects of Terpene Enriched Extracts from Hops
This study will study the analgesic effects of terpenes extracted from hops (Humulus lupulus) which has a very similar terpene profile.
8. University of Illinois – Systematic Investigation of Rare Cannabinoids With Pain Receptors
The project will be synthesizing rare phytocannabinoids and evaluating their anti-inflammatory potential.
9. Temple University – Analgesic efficacy of single and combined minor cannabinoids and terpenes
Rodent models of pain will be used to evaluate four biologically active components of cannabis that may act synergistically to protect against pain development and see how they interact with morphine.