Health & Wellbeing

CBD oil proves no better than placebo for cancer pain and distress

CBD oil proves no better than placebo for cancer pain and distress
A trial found two-thirds of participants reported benefits from their allocated intervention, regardless of whether they were taking CBD or a placebo
A trial found two-thirds of participants reported benefits from their allocated intervention, regardless of whether they were taking CBD or a placebo
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A trial found two-thirds of participants reported benefits from their allocated intervention, regardless of whether they were taking CBD or a placebo
A trial found two-thirds of participants reported benefits from their allocated intervention, regardless of whether they were taking CBD or a placebo

Newly published results from a clinical trial testing the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) oil on symptoms of pain and distress in cancer patients suggest the popular product may be no more effective than a placebo. The findings add to an inconclusive body of research on the effects of medicinal cannabis for pain.

The new study is the first data to come from a series of three clinical trials studying the effects of medical cannabis on patients in palliative care with advanced cancer. Janet Hardy, from the Mater Research Institute and lead researcher on the project, said the work is trying to understand the optimal doses and uses for medical cannabis.

“The best way to describe the uptake of medicinal cannabis following its legalization was as a social phenomenon – everyone wanted it, but there was little evidence to guide its usage,” Hardy explained. “Usually, new products entering the market have gone through extensive pre-clinical studies regarding best dosage and usage, however, medicinal cannabis entered the market with very little guidance.”

This first trial focused on CBD oil, recruiting 144 patients in palliative care and randomly allocating them either a placebo or a self-titrated dose of CBD oil up to 600 mg per day. The primary metric used to measure the effects of the CBD was a total symptom distress score (TSDS) from a tool called the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale [ESAS]. This scale measures nine common symptoms in patients with advanced cancer and is frequently used in palliative care contexts.

After 14 days, the researchers saw no difference on TSDS measures between CBD and placebo groups. No difference was found on all other secondary measures up to 28 days, with around two-thirds of both placebo and CBD groups reporting "feeling better or much better" at the end of the study period.

“The trial found there was no detectable effect of CBD on change in physical or emotional functioning, overall quality of life, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, dyspnoea or appetite loss,” Hardy noted. “There was no demonstration of an improvement in symptom control from CBD oil in patients with advanced cancer over that obtained from palliative care alone.”

The new findings come alongside another recently published study investigating the strength of the placebo effect in medical cannabis trials for pain. The research, led by a team from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, looked at 20 randomized controlled trials investigating cannabis for the treatment of pain.

That research found no significant difference on pain measures between cannabis and placebo. The study also accounted for trials where blinding was broken, meaning participants could tell when they were given cannabis or a placebo. The researchers suggest when participants cannot tell what they have been given they tend to rate the placebo as highly effective.

Interestingly, Hardy points out a strong placebo effect was detected in her team's trial. And several participants in the placebo group even went on to buy CBD products after the trial had completed.

"Despite the lack of evidence of benefit, more than one third (36%) of participants in the first study elected to purchase a medicinal cannabis product after the trial, despite being unaware if they were taking the CBD or placebo,” Hardy said.

The remaining two clinical trials Hardy is working on are looking at similar measures of distress in palliative care patients, but using different combinations of CBD and the more psychoactive cannabinoid THC.

The new study was published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Source: Mater

Ive been saying this for years, the first large proper test done found it was placebo and every large scale test done since has shown the same.. Whenever you find a test done that says its effective you find out it was easy for them to tell if they had placebo or not etc. The real shame is that there are some proper pain killers and cancer drugs being developed that could use the cbd money, I believe in my life time we will have an addiction free strong painkiller and a way to test exactly how much pain someone is in.
I've suffered constant pain for around 40 years.

Doctors have fed me drugs of all kinds during that period. Gabapentin - terrible side effects. Celecoxib - terrible side effects. Hydrocodone and morphine - won't let me fall asleep. Cymbalta - zombie drug. I prefer the pain. I refuse to take anything that starts with oxy.

Using marijuana provides overall excellent pain relief, a cessation of jerking arms and body spasms similar (or related to) RLS As well as relief from sharp stabbing pains over my entire body from neuropathy that has spread from my feet. I have been told I have fibromyalgia, but the doctor would not diagnose it because it's a woman's disease.

You can quote all the studies available, but as someone who had consistent, horrible pain relieved by smoking marijuana, I can tell you they are, at least in my case, wrong.
@SciFiHiGi, CBD and THC are very different things. Since you’re using marijuana, it’s the THC that’s helping. People wanted to use the CBD because it didn’t have the same High effect that THC gave people. But per the studies, there seems to be NO effect. Too bad.
Strange that they didn't mention CBG oil as it's reported to be 150x more anti inflammatory than CBD. I use it for pain, the pain stops immediately and I have the weakest version of it.
White Rabbit
Anyone who thinks cannabis and its by-products are "new products entering the market" either thinks "the market" began 100 years ago, or has chosen to ignore the fact that prior to the 1920s cannabis was one of the medications most frequently prescribed by American physicians. Couple either of those assumptions with a sample size small enough to be properly called anecdotal and you get nothing more than reactionary propaganda. One should be embarrassed to publish such drivel.
Daniel Kleinschrodt
Doesn't this just prove that placebos are more effective than ever though?

This literally is just talking about how the Placebo affect works - mentally you can believe you have what you need and that alone can help you feel better.
CBD and cannabis (THC + CBD and other cannabinoids) did nothing for my back pain (degenerative disc).

Kratom...that is a miracle for my pain. Kratom research also shows this which is confirmed by the pharmacokinetic research.
Dave Holland
This is a great example of dumb 'science'.
If the researchers involved considered the EVIDENCE that cannabinoids are effective in concert, not on their own. There are at least 142 cannabinoids. THC and CBD are the dominant ones but what other cannabinoids they are combined with impacts how they perform. We have focused one how much CBD and THC are in a cannabis product, but research and real world data in Israel (where the leading research programs are) demonstrated that changing the strain (different genetics) also changes the combination of the other (minor/background) cannabinoids - and the clinical outcomes; even if the THC/CBD ratios and quantum are the same. Declaring a CBS oil as ineffective without understanding the importance and role of the other cannabinoids is irresponsible and suggests either wilful negligence of a lack of background research in this complicated, important ad, to be fair, still little understood natural medication.
As is almost always the case, there is a reason cannabis plants don't contain just CBD and THC.
Everyone I consider qualified to speak on this subject has made it clear that at least a little THC is required to allow the body to see the benefits of CBD—and no, I don't have the expertise to fully understand (much less describe here) the physiological reason for that.