Specific phytocannabinoid compositions are associated with analgesic response and adverse effects in chronic pain patients treated with medical cannabis

Joshua Aviram, Gil M. Lewitus, Dorit Pud, Shiri Procaccia, Paula Berman, Ben Yellin, Yelena Vysotski, Or Hazan, Elon Eisenberg, David Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medical cannabis (MC) treatment for chronic pain is increasing, but evidence regarding short- and long-term efficacy and associated adverse effects (AEs) of the different cannabis plant components is limited. Most reports focus on two phytocannabinoids, (-)-Δ9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). This study, aimed to identify patterns of phytocannabinoid compositions associated with MC treatment response and with related AEs. Participants in this multicenter prospective cohort were patients with chronic non-cancer pain that were prescribed MC by physicians. Data was collected before MC treatment, at one month (short-term) and at 12 months (long-term). Simultaneously, liquid chromatography mass spectrometry identification and quantification of phytocannabinoids from the cultivars were performed. The monthly dose of each phytocannabinoid for each patient was z-scaled and clustered into ten groups to assess the difference in analgesic treatment response (≥30%/50% pain intensity reduction) and AEs rates. We identified ten clusters that had similar analgesic treatment response rates. However, there were significant differences in AEs rates both at short- and long-term. We identified specific phytocannabinoid compositions that were associated with overall AEs rates (5% compared to 53% at short-term and 44% at long-term) and with specific AEs rates such as MC related central nervous system, gastrointestinal and psychological AEs. To conclude, Evaluating only Δ9-THC or CBD is insufficient to find associations with MC related AEs. Therefore, comprehensive profiling of phytocannabinoids is needed to discover associations to related AEs and help physicians prescribe safer cannabis with less AEs while still relieving pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105651
JournalPharmacological Research
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript. The study was partially funded by the Evelyn Gruss Lipper Charitable Foundation, USA ( 2027093 ). This sponsor had no role or influence on the study or on this submission.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Adverse effects
  • Efficacy
  • Medical cannabis
  • Phytocannabinoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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