November 11, 2021

The Effects of Cannabidiol and Analgesic Expectancies on Experimental Pain Reactivity in Healthy Adults: A Balanced Placebo Design Trial

Authors: Martin J. De Vita, Stephen A. Maisto, Christina E. Gilmour, Lauren McGuire, Elizabeth Tarvin, and Dezarie Moska.


Who was it?

Fifteen healthy men and women aged 18-30 years participated in this study. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of four experimental sessions. This study used a crossover design, meaning that each subject participated in each of the four sessions. This is called a randomized placebo-controlled crossover study, which is generally accepted as the strongest clinical study design.


What was done?

The four sessions included two placebo and two CBD sessions. In one of each of the placebo and CBD sessions, subjects were told that what they were given was “active” while in the other session they were told that it was “inactive”. The rationale was that this would allow researchers to know if effects were related to expectancy of benefit. Subjects consumed 50mg of oil-based CBD and 30 minutes later, pain was generated experimentally using heat.


What happened? 

Participants taking CBD experienced a reduction in the unpleasant experience of pain. When participants were told they were taking CBD, but were given placebo, there was also a reduction in unpleasantness of pain, although this was lower than when taking CBD. The greatest reduction in unpleasantness was seen when people took CBD and were told that it was “active”.


Fringe Commentary 

This is the first ever clinical study of CBD and pain. According to the study authors, while CBD was not decreasing the intensity of pain, it was “changing the channel, making it a little less unpleasant.” There are multiple dimensions of pain, all of which can be targeted with pain relieving strategies. While pain intensity reflects a sensory dimension of pain, unpleasantness reflects an emotional aspect. The emotional aspect of pain may be more sensitive to treatment with CBD.


These research findings suggest that Fringe water soluble CBD can be used to reduce the unpleasant experience of pain. Each packet of Fringe Mana and Henko provide an equivalent (or higher) dose of CBD than was used in this study. This study looked at experimentally induced pain, using a single dose of CBD as treatment. Further research should investigate other types of pain, such as chronic pain, with CBD treatment over an extended period.



About the Author Dr. Genevieve Newton

Dr. Genevieve Newton, DC, PhD has spent the past 19 years as a researcher and educator in the field of nutritional sciences. A series of personal health crises led her to discover the benefits of cannabinoids, and she soon found herself engrossed in studying the endocannabinoid system and therapeutic applications of cannabis/cannabinoids in mental health, pain, sleep, and neurological disorders. She has recently taken a position as the Scientific Director at Fringe, a new medical CBD and education company.

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