Pain. 2022 Jan 24. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002591. Online ahead of print.
Opioids in general and remifentanil in particular can induce hyperalgesia. Preclinical data suggest that cannabidiol might have the capacity to reduce opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). Thus, we investigated the effect of oral cannabidiol on OIH in healthy volunteers using an established pain model. Twenty-four healthy participants were included in this randomized, double-blinded, crossover study and received either a 1600-mg single-dose oral cannabidiol or placebo. Hyperalgesia, allodynia, and pain were induced by intracutaneous electrical stimulation. To provoke OIH, participants recieved an infusion of 0.1 µg/kg/min remifentanil over a time frame of 30 minutes, starting 100 minutes after oral cannabidiol ingestion. The primary outcome was the area of hyperalgesia (in square centimetres) up to 60 minutes after remifentanil administration. The area of allodynia (in square centimetres) and pain (numeric rating scale) were also assessed.Cannabidiol had no significant effect on hyperalgesia, allodynia, or pain at any time point of measurement compared with placebo. The area of hyperalgesia after remifentanil administration significantly increased compared with baseline (17.0 cm2 [8.1-28.7] vs 25.3 cm2 [15.1-39.6]; P = 0.013). Mean cannabidiol blood levels were 4.1 ± 3.0 µg/L (mean ± SD) at 130 minutes after ingestion and were 8.2 μg/L ± 6.9 µg/L (mean ± SD) at 200 minutes. Cannabidiol was well tolerated. We conclude that a high single-oral dose of 1600-mg cannabidiol is not effective in reducing OIH. Before excluding an effect of cannabidiol on OIH, research should focus on drug formulations enabling higher cannabidiol concentrations.