New research published in the European Journal of Pain is offering some of the first clinical trial insights into the efficacy of microdosing THC to treat chronic pain. The results of the small trial suggest minute doses of THC may confer clinically apparent reductions in pain sensation without inducing psychoactive side effects.
A microdose is generally known as a subtherapeutic dose of a drug, and the term has more recently become synonymous with tiny, regular dosing of psychedelics such as LSD. The practice has been anecdotally popular, however, little research has been conducted to rigorously test how useful these imperceptible doses of psychedelic drugs actually can be.
Over the last few years, the data investigating the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain has been confusingly contradictory. One hypothesis for this discordancy has been the huge variety of types of cannabis and administration methods leading to an inability to standardize the results.
So, an Israeli pharma-tech company named Syqe Medical set out to try to answer the THC microdose question, and solve the problem of imprecise cannabis dosing. The Syqe Inhaler is a first-of-its-kind product that reportedly enables precise dosing of low-levels of THC.
A randomized, double‐blinded, and placebo‐controlled trial recruited a cohort of 27 subjects with chronic neuropathic pain. Across three separate test days each subject received one inhaled dose, containing either 500 micrograms (0.5 mg) of THC, 1,000 micrograms (1 mg) of THC, or a placebo.
“Both doses, but not the placebo, demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity compared with baseline and remained stable for 150‐min,” the researchers write in the published study. “The 1‐mg dose showed a significant pain decrease compared to the placebo.”
As well as showing relevant reductions in subjective pain sensations, the study reports no signs of cognitive impairment across either active dose. Reports of a psychoactive “high” sensation were significantly greater after the 1,000-microgram dose compared to the 500-microgram dose. The 1,000-microgram dose used in the trial is around five to 10 times less than what many consider to the low-end of a psychoactive dose of THC.
“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,” says Elon Eisenberg, lead research on the project, from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. “The doses given in this study, being so low, mandate very high precision in the treatment modality.”