Study Finds CBD Significantly Reduces Pain in Veterans

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Dakota and the Veteran Health Administration has revealed promising results regarding the use of cannabidiol (CBD) among veterans experiencing chronic pain.

Published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, the study highlights the potential benefits of CBD, despite federal restrictions and VA policies prohibiting its recommendation by medical staff.

The cross-sectional survey involved 218 veterans receiving care at the Fargo Veteran Health Administration Medical Center Pain Clinic. Among the participants, 81.2% were male and 52.3% were aged between 60 and 80 years. The study aimed to assess the prevalence of CBD use and its impact on self-reported pain levels.

Results show that around 10% of participants reported using CBD products. Of these, 52.4% used CBD specifically to manage pain symptoms. The data showed that among those using CBD, there was a significant reduction in pain scores, with average pain levels decreasing from 6.37 before CBD use to 4.05 after its usage, a “statistically significant improvement”.

Despite the positive outcomes, the study’s authors noted several limitations, including the self-reported nature of the data and the inability to verify the specific cannabinoid constituents of the CBD products used. Nonetheless, the findings contribute valuable insights into the potential of CBD as an alternative pain management option for veterans.

The study’s full abstract can be found below:


Background: Many United States veterans utilize prescription opioids to treat chronic pain symptoms and are subsequently at risk for opioid and alcohol misuse. As more states legalized the use of cannabis for medical use, increasing numbers of people are using cannabis pharmacotherapy for pain. The veterans Health Administration (VHA) Directive 1315, July 28, 2023 prohibits any medical staff on recommending, making referral to, and complete forms for a state approved program. Also, a veterans medical center does not provide marijuana to veterans. State laws do not change the status of CBD under federal law. CBD is illegal in the federal system.

Objectives: Our aim was to investigate the prevalence of cannabidiol product usage in Veterans and the association with changes in self-reported pain.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional descriptive survey offering questionnaires to patients greater than 18 years of age receiving care at the Fargo Veteran Health Administration medical center Pain Clinic (2101 Elm St N, Fargo ND, 58102).

Results: A total of 218 veterans participated of which 81.2% were male and 52.3% were in the age range of 60-80 years. Twenty-one participants reported cannabidiol usage (9.6%), with 52.4% using to treat pain symptoms. Average pain scores pre-usage of 6.37 were reduced to 4.05 post-usage indicating a statistically significant reduction in pain (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Our study broadened the baseline knowledge of cannabidiol use in the Veteran population. Limitations include results being self-reported and the inability to verify cannabinoid constituents.

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