Microdoses of Cannabis Relieve Chronic Pain, Shows First-Ever Clinical Trial

The THC could be taken through an inhaler.
Fabienne Lang

Cannabis has a raft of different uses, from ancient hallucinogenic methods to modern day medical uses as aspirin, researchers are discovering more and more about this potent plant.

It turns out that microdosing THC, or cannabis, can treat chronic pain. New research on the topic explains the first-ever clinical trial insights into the efficacy of such a treatment. 

The trial was carried out by Syqe Medical, an Israeli pharma-tech company, and the results and study were published in the European Journal of Pain in May.


Cannabis vs. pain

The results of Syqe Medical's small clinical trial suggest that when taken in small doses, THC minimizes chronic pain without inducing any psychoactive side effects. 

A microdose is typically a subtherapeutic measured dose of a drug. It's become a popular method when using certain drugs as therapies, but so far little actual research has been carried out to properly test out how strong and useful these microdoses of drugs are.

Using medical marijuana as a form of treatment has been a confusingly two-sided topic of conversation. There is still a fair amount of suspicion given the vast amount of types of cannabis available as well as administration methods, leading to an inability to create a standardized testing method to give adequate results. 

Hence Syqe Medical's clinical trial, which attempted to once and for all answer the microdose question of THC use. The company has created a one-of-a-kind inhaler that puffs out microdoses of THC. 

The company carried out a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled test with 27 volunteers with chronic neuropathic pain. Syqe's Medical inhaler, the Syqe Inhaler, gives out two dose options: 500 micrograms of THC, or 1,000 micrograms

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In the test, volunteers were either given one of the two doses of THC, or a placebo with the same dosages. 

"Both doses, but not the placebo, demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity compared with baseline and remained stable for 150‐min," the researchers wrote in the published study. "The 1‐mg dose showed a significant pain decrease compared to the placebo."

On top of showing signs of minimized chronic pain, the dosages did not induce any cognitive impairments. 

"We can conclude from the study results that low doses of cannabis may provide desirable effects while avoiding cognitive debilitations, significantly contributing to daily functioning, quality of life, and safety of the patient," said Elon Eisenberg, lead research on the project. "The doses given in this study, being so low, mandate very high precision in the treatment modality."

As the numbers of volunteers in the study were so low, more research on the matter will be carried out, but the initial results are positive.