Researchers at the University of Sydney have received funding to look into the medicinal benefits of CBD for chronic pain following spinal cord injury.
The research team has been awarded $1.7 million to dedicate to the study. $1.45 million of the funding came from NSW Health while $350,000 was given by the University.
Study lead investigator, Professor Luke Henderson, states that half of all spinal cord injury patients go onto experience "debilitating" neuropathic pain. Meanwhile, the side-effects of current medication can create further complications that inhibit recovery.
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting CBD for chronic pain, there is little existing clinical evidence to back up the claims.
This study will use brain imaging to track chronic pain after spinal injury while investigating how CBD reduces pain.
"We will be able to explore for the first time, the effects of CBD on brain function in chronic pain and our ability to determine the relationship between changes in pain and brain structure and function associated with CBD."Luke Henderson, Professor at University of Sydney
Specifically, the study will commence in two parts. The first part will identify and track the neural changes post-trauma that lead to chronic pain. This will be completed using use brain imaging techniques. The imaging will be compared between patients who develop chronic pain and those who don't. This will help researchers identify what changes lead to chronic pain.
The second part of the study will explore the efficacy of CBD to reduce pain through a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
"While there are some studies showing that CBD can reduce pain in other chronic conditions, no one fully understands how it works to reduce pain. Our study can help tease this out," states Professor Henderson.
The trial will take place over four years. The first trials will likely begin in the first half of 2021.
The news has coincided with the Australian government announcing that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will likely deschedule CBD to Schedule III substance. This means that CBD products will be available for purchase at pharmacies.
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