Cannabis for Treatment of HIV-Related Peripheral Neuropathy

May 18, 2011

The full results of this study appear in the Feb­ru­ary 13, 2007 issue of the jour­nal Neu­rol­ogy. Below is a brief sum­mary of these results.

Dr. Abrams and the Com­mu­nity Con­sor­tium con­ducted a study to eval­u­ate the safety and effec­tive­ness of smoked mar­i­juana to treat pain caused by HIV-related periph­eral neu­ropa­thy (injury to the nerves that sup­ply feel­ings to your arms and feet). The study eval­u­ated whether mar­i­juana had an effect on pain relief. Mar­i­juana was com­pared to a placebo; a cig­a­rette that smells and tastes like mar­i­juana but has no active ingre­di­ents (THC).

The study eval­u­ated both ongo­ing neu­ro­pathic pain (clin­i­cal pain) and tem­po­rary pain induced by apply­ing heat and cap­saicin (ingre­di­ent that makes red pep­pers hot) cream to a small area of the skin (exper­i­men­tal pain).

Fifty-five patients were ran­dom­ized and 50 com­pleted the entire trial. Smoked mar­i­juana reduced daily pain by 34% com­pared to 17% with placebo. The study con­cluded that 52% of patients who smoked mar­i­juana had a greater than 30% reduc­tion in pain com­pared to 24% in the placebo group. In this study, smoked mar­i­juana was well tol­er­ated and effec­tively relieved chronic neu­ro­pathic pain from HIV-related periph­eral neu­ropa­thy. The find­ings are com­pa­ra­ble to clin­i­cally proven oral drugs for chronic neu­ro­pathic pain.


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