Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Narrative Review

Cannabis and pain: a scoping review

Camila Pantoja-Ruiz; Paula Restrepo Jimenez; Camilo Castañeda-Cardona; Diego Rosselli

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For centuries, cannabis has been used with many different purposes, including medicinal use, usually bypassing any formal approval process. However, during the last decade, interest in cannabis in medicine has been increasing, and several countries, including the United States and Canada, have produced their own legislation about marihuana and cannabis-based medicines. Because of this, interest in research has been increasing and evidence about its medical effects is becoming necessary.

We conducted a review examining the evidence of cannabis in pain. Cannabis had been shown to be useful in acute and chronic pain, however recently these results have been controverted. Within the different types of chronic pain, it has a weak evidence for neuropathic, rheumatic pain, and headache, modest evidence for multiple sclerosis related pain, and as adjuvant therapy in cancer pain. There is no strong evidence to recommend cannabis in order to decrease opioids in patients with chronic use.

Even though cannabis-based medications appear to be mostly safe, mild adverse effects are common; somnolence, sedation, amnesia, euphoric mood, hyperhidrosis, paranoia, and confusion may limit the use of cannabis in clinical practice. Risks have not been systematically analyzed. Special concern arises on how adverse effect might affect vulnerable population such as elderly patients.

More research is needed in order to evaluate benefits and risks, as well as the ideal administration route and dosages. As cannabis use increases in several countries, answers to these questions might be coming soon.


Acute pain;  Cannabis;  Neuralgia;  Review;  Chronic pain;  Cancer pain


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