A new study from says that while smoking weed doesn’t actually reduce pain, it does make patients feel ‘less bothered by’ it. This is because THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, reduces brain activity linked to the emotional aspects of pain.
To figure this out, Oxford University researchers gave 12 healthy, male subjects either a 15 milligram tablet of THC or a placebo, then a cream containing chili was rubbed into their skin to incite a painful, burning feeling.
The result? “We found that with THC, on average people didn’t report any change in the burn, but the pain bothered them less,” said lead study author Michael Lee, from Oxford University’s Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain.
Participants also underwent MRI imagingÂ to see which areas of brain activity were affected. The scans showed reduced activity in areas of the brain linked to how we experience or process pain.
“Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine,” said Lee.Â ”Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates.