Oral capsules of tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and their combination in peripheral neuropathic pain treatment

Eur J Pain. 2023 Apr;27(4):492-506. doi: 10.1002/ejp.2072. Epub 2023 Jan 12.


Background: Cannabinoids are often prescribed for neuropathic pain, but the evidence-based recommendation is 'weak against'.

Objectives: The aim was to examine the effect of two cannabinoids and their combination in peripheral neuropathic pain.

Methods: This was a randomized, double-blind, trial with treatment arms for cannabidiol (CBD), tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC), CBD and THC combination (CBD/THC), and placebo in a 1:1:1:1 ratio and flexible drug doses (CBD 5-50 mg, THC 2.5-25 mg, and CBD/THC 5 mg/2.5 mg-50 mg/25 mg). Treatment periods of 8-week duration were proceeded by 1 week for baseline observations. Patients with painful polyneuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia and peripheral nerve injury (traumatic or surgical) failing at least one previous evidence-based pharmacological treatment were eligible for inclusion. The primary outcome was the change in weekly average of daily pain measured with a numeric rating scale (NRS). Trail Making Test (TMT) was used as one of the tests of mental functioning.

Results: In all, 145 patients were included in the study of which 118 were randomized and 115 included in the intention-to-treat analysis. None of the treatments reduced pain compared to placebo (p = 0.04-0.60). Effect sizes as estimated in week 8 (positive values worse and negative better than placebo) were CBD mean 1.14 NRS points (95% CI 0.11-2.19), THC 0.38 (CI -0.65 to 1.4) and CBD/THC -0.12 (-1.13 to 0.89).

Conclusions: CBD, THC and their combination did not relieve peripheral neuropathic pain in patients failing at least one previous evidence-based treatment for neuropathic pain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol* / therapeutic use
  • Cannabinol / therapeutic use
  • Dronabinol / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia* / drug therapy


  • Cannabidiol
  • Cannabinol
  • Dronabinol

Associated data

  • EudraCT/2017–005198-38