The effectiveness of cannabinoids in the management of chronic nonmalignant neuropathic pain: a systematic review

J Oral Facial Pain Headache. 2015 Winter;29(1):7-14. doi: 10.11607/ofph.1274.


Aims: To carry out a systematic review to assess the effectiveness of cannabis extracts and cannabinoids in the management of chronic nonmalignant neuropathic pain.

Methods: Electronic database searches were performed using Medline, PubMed, Embase, all evidence-based medicine reviews, and Web of Science, through communication with the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC), and by searching printed indices from 1950. Terms used were marijuana, marihuana, cannabis, cannabinoids, nabilone, delta- 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, ajulemic acid, dronabinol, pain, chronic, disease, and neuropathic. Randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) involving cannabis and cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain were selected. Outcomes considered were reduction in pain intensity and adverse events.

Results: Of the 24 studies that examined chronic neuropathic pain, 11 studies were excluded. The 13 included studies were rated using the Jadad Scale to measure bias in pain research. Evaluation of these studies suggested that cannabinoids may provide effective analgesia in chronic neuropathic pain conditions that are refractory to other treatments.

Conclusion: Cannabis-based medicinal extracts used in different populations of chronic nonmalignant neuropathic pain patients may provide effective analgesia in conditions that are refractory to other treatments. Further high-quality studies are needed to assess the impact of the duration of the treatment as well as the best form of drug delivery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Bias
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Databases as Topic
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Analgesics
  • Cannabinoids