Low-Dose Cannabis Inhaler Effective in Treating Chronic Pain

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

Low-doses of medical cannabis delivered through an inhaler significantly reduced pain in patients with neuropathy, back pain and other chronic pain conditions, according to a new study.

Researchers assessed the efficacy of vaporized cannabis in 138 pain patients using the Syqe Inhaler, a pocket-sized device that delivers microdoses of aerosolized cannabis. The study was funded and conducted by Syqe Medical, a medical technology company in Israel that makes the inhaler.

Unlike smoking or traditional vaping, the Syqe inhaler heats the cannabis to a temperature below combustion and uses airflow controls to deliver precise doses of cannabis to the patient’s lungs in less than 2 seconds. The mean dose in the study was 1.5 mg of aerosolized delta-9-THC, a fraction of what a typical cannabis user would get from a joint or vaporizer.

Participants in the study used the inhaler up to several times a day, depending on need, and were followed for up to a year.

The study findings, published in the journal Pain Reports, show that pain levels fell from an average of 7.3 (on a zero to 10 pain scale) to 5.5 after 120 days – a reduction of nearly 23 percent. For patients in severe pain, pain levels dropped over 28 percent.

Most participants also reported significant improvement in their quality of life, with 92% saying their lives were “better” or “much better.”

Of the 43 patients who were using opioid pain medication at the start of the study, 58% reported using lower doses after initiating treatment with the inhaler.

Adverse events, such as dizziness and headache, were minor and usually lasted only a few minutes. About 17% of patients reported no decrease in pain intensity and 7% reported more pain.

“Medical cannabis treatment with the Syqe Inhaler demonstrated overall long-term pain reduction, quality of life improvement, and opioid-sparing effect in a cohort of patients with chronic pain, using just a fraction of the amount of MC (medical cannabis) compared with other modes of delivery by inhalation,” researchers reported.

“These outcomes were accompanied by a lower rate of AEs (adverse events) and almost no AE reports during a long-term steady-state follow-up. Additional follow-up in a larger population is warranted to corroborate our findings.”

The Syqe Inhaler is currently only available in Israel and Canada, and requires a medical cannabis license. Syqe Medical is still awaiting FDA approval of its inhaler in the United States.