Examine reveals perception into the capability of CBD to lower ache


  • Contribution by ::
  • Source: Syracuse University
  • date:: April 24, 2021

It has been hailed as a miracle drug and is sure to create miracle profits. By some estimates, the cannabidiol (or CBD) market could be worth $ 20 billion by 2024. While consumers are promoting its effectiveness in providing pain relief, limited human experimentation has been conducted on the actual effectiveness of the drug. However, a new study conducted by researchers at Syracuse University sheds light on the ability of CBD to relieve pain, as well as the effects the placebo effect can have on pain outcomes.

“That is a fair question because we know that simply saying that a substance is able to relieve your pain can actually lead to large changes in your sensitivity to pain. These are called expectation effects. “

De Vita, together with Stephen Maisto, emeritus professor of psychology in Syracuse, was uniquely prepared to answer exactly this question. The couple, along with colleague and PhD student Dezarie Moskal, conducted the first systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental research examining the effects of cannabinoid drugs on pain. Since the first experimental pain attempt to analyze CBD, their analysis has given consistent and remarkable results. Among other things, the data showed that CBD and the expectation of getting CBD did not seem to decrease experimental pain intensity, but made the pain appear less uncomfortable.

De Vita and Maisto used sophisticated equipment that is sure to induce experimental heat pain and allow them to measure how the recipient’s nervous system is responding and responding to it. “Then we give a drug like pure CBD or a placebo and then reevaluate their pain responses and determine how they change based on the substance administered,” De Vita said.

The researchers then went a step further and manipulated the information given to participants about the substances they received. In some cases, participants were told that if they actually received a placebo, they would receive CBD or if they actually received CBD, they would receive a placebo. “That way we could find out if it was the medication that relieved the pain or if it was the expectation that they’d received the medication that relieved their pain,” said De Vita. “We hypothesized that most of the time we would see expectant placebo analgesia (pain relief). However, what we found after measuring several different pain outcomes is that it is actually just a bit of both. That is, we found improvements in the pain control measures caused by the pharmacological effects of CBD as well as the psychological effects of the mere expectation that they were on CBD. It was quite surprising and remarkable. “

“The data is exciting, but rather complicated, as different pain interventions responded differently to drug action, expectation, or both medication and expectation together. So we’re still trying to figure out what’s behind the aggregated information with different types of pain measures, ”Maisto explained. “The next step is to analyze the mechanisms underlying these findings and find out why giving instructions or CBD itself elicits certain responses to a pain stimulus.”

Most people think of pain as an on and off switch, either you have it or you don’t. However, as De Vita describes it, pain is a complex phenomenon with multiple dimensions influenced by psychological and biological aspects. For example, while pain intensity reflects a “sensory” dimension of pain, discomfort means an “affective” or psychological aspect of pain. “If you think of pain as the harmful sound coming from a radio, the quantity can represent the intensity of the pain, while the broadcaster can represent the quality,” said De Vita.

The results of his previous study showed that cannabinoid drugs, while not reducing the amount of pain, “switched channels, which made it a little less uncomfortable.” We repeated this in this study and found that CBD and expectations didn’t significantly decrease pain volume, but they made it less uncomfortable – it didn’t bother them as much. As part of this study, De Vita and Maisto developed advanced experimental pain measurement protocols “to open the hood and examine a number of these other mechanistic pain processes,” explained De Vita. “It’s not just pain, yes or no, but there are these other dimensions of pain as well, and it would be interesting to see which ones are targeted. We found that occasionally the pharmacological effects of CBD lowered some of them, but not expectations. Sometimes they did. Sometimes it was just the expectation. So we went to the thought that what we would mostly find was expectant pain relief, but what we discovered was a lot more complicated than that, and that’s exciting. “

An important note that also needs to be considered is the origin of the CBD. “What we used in our analysis was pure CBD isolate oil,” said De Vita. “Commercially available CBD products vary in their content and purity. Therefore, results for different CBD products may differ depending on which other substances they contain or do not contain.”

Martin De Vita is currently doing an internship in clinical psychology at Brooke Army Medical Center in JBSA, TX.


Journal reference:

De Vita, MJ, et al. (2021) The Effects of Expectation of Cannabidiol and Analgesics on Experimental Pain Reactivity in Healthy Adults: A Balanced Placebo Design Study. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. doi.org/10.1037/pha0000465.