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Cannabinoid derivatives and the pharmacological management of pain

Marcos Adriano Lessa Ismar Lima Cavalcanti Nubia Verçosa Figueiredo About the authors



Medical properties of Cannabis sativa have been reported for centuries for the treatment of diff ent disorders and, more recently, to manage pain. Th study aimed at reviewing major pharmacological advances of the endocannabinoid system and the potential therapeutic use of some cannabinoid compounds to manage diff ent types of pain.


A search was carried out in Pubmed, Scielo and Lilacs databases to identify studies and literature reviews on the pharmacology and therapeutic use of cannabinoids for pain. The following keywords were used: Cannabis sativa, tetra-hydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, sativex®, cannador®, cannabinoids, endocannabinoid, pain and neuropathic pain. Synthetic cannabinoids and Cannabis sativa extracts have shown analgesic effects in several clinical trials, suggesting their potential role for pain management, especially neuropathic pain. Synthetic cannabinoids and CS extracts have also induced anxiolytic effects when used as adjuvants to treat cancer pain, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. However, significant adverse effects, such as euphoria, depression and sedation limit the clinical use of such cannabinoids.


Further understanding of endocannabinoid system pharmacology, together with study results involving pain management with cannabinoid substances may be very useful for the development of drugs allowing a significant advance in the treatment of patients with painful syndromes, especially difficult to control. However, further studies are needed to confirm such findings and to determine the safety of such compounds.

Cannabis; Endocannabinoids; Management; Pain; Pharmacology

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