Home > Living systematic review on cannabis and other plant-based treatments for chronic pain.

McDonagh, Marian S and Wagner, Jesse and Ahmed, Azrah Y and Morasco, Benjamin J and Kansagara, Devan and Chou, Roger (2022) Living systematic review on cannabis and other plant-based treatments for chronic pain. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. AHRQ publication no. 21-EHC026.

External website: https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/products/plan...


In an effort to address the opioid epidemic, a prominent goal of current research is to identify alternative treatments with equal or better benefits for pain while avoiding potential unintended consequences that could result in harms.

A systematic review assessing the effectiveness and harms of plant-based treatments for chronic pain conditions is underway. The review will be "living" in the sense that it will identify and synthesize recently published literature on an ongoing basis. For the purposes of this review, plant-based compounds (PBCs) included are those that are similar to opioids in effect and that have the potential for addiction, misuse, and serious adverse effects; other PBCs such as herbal treatments are not included. The intended audience includes policy and decision makers, funders and researchers of treatments for chronic pain, and clinicians who treat chronic pain.

The quarterly progress reports present the accumulating evidence and are updated on a regular basis. They include a description of the available studies and an appraisal of study quality.

June 2022 Update - Overview
This is the fourth and final surveillance report for a living systematic review on cannabis and other plant-based treatments for chronic pain. The systematic review synthesizes evidence on the benefits and harms of plant-based compounds (PBCs), such as cannabinoids and kratom, used to treat chronic pain, and addresses concerns about severe adverse effects, abuse, misuse, dependence, and addiction.

The Key Questions (KQs) for this review focus on the benefits (KQ1) and harms (KQ2) of cannabinoids for treating chronic pain, as well as the benefits (KQ3) and harms (KQ4) of other PBCs, such as kratom, for treating chronic pain. One new study comparing nabiximols (plantextracted comparable tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] to cannabidiol [CBD] ratio) with oral dronabinol (synthetic high THC to CBD ratio) for chronic neuropathic pain was identified for inclusion during this surveillance period.

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