According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 25.3 million adults or approximately 11.2 percent of the total population suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is categorized as intermittent pain that lasts for more than three months. While those who suffer from severe pain amount to 40 million or 17.6 percent. These people also most likely have worse health conditions. Looking at this analysis, it is a fact that pain management is a serious matter. Ignoring it may lead to more serious complications in anyone’s health. Pain can be managed in various ways. Treatments include prescribed medications, massage therapies, acupuncture, electrical stimulations, or surgeries. However, these options are either expensive or take time to see visible results. Cannabis contains cannabinoids such as THC and CBD that have proven to be effective in alleviating pain. These components activate receptors regulating the central nervous system. It also affects the endorphin system which makes the pain less intense and more manageable. If you are one of those looking for a natural way to alleviate your pain issues, this article is for you. Continue reading to know more about cannabis and how it effectively treats pain and other health conditions.
How Does Cannabis Work to Treat Pain?
Medicinal cannabis has been making a buzz in the market today. It continually draws attention as it plays a significant role in treating various types of pain including acute postoperative pain, abdominal chronic pain, or rheumatoid pain. Cannabis is a psychoactive plant that contains hundreds of components and cannabinoids including THC or tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD or cannabidiol. These two have been the subject of scientific investigations and clinical studies because of their pharmacological properties.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC
THC present in cannabis strains effectively treats pain and alters the perception of pain caused by anxiety, stress, and other mental illnesses. It even works better than any placebo treatment. Research shows that THC can reduce pain by 8 points more than a placebo treatment when patients are asked to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 100. THC modifies cellular activities to effectively alleviate pain. Its main role is to increase beta-endorphins which relieve pain in a similar way to opioids.
- Cannabidiol or CBD
CBD provides relief to pain without causing any psychoactive effects to its users. CBD alone can provide relief to neuropathic pain although no study suggests it can completely heal nerve damage. In a 2017 study, CBD has been proven to effectively block neuropathic pain in osteoarthritic mice. It also showed a protective effect against further nerve damage. It also contains anti-inflammatory effects by interacting with different cannabinoid receptors. CBD also effectively prevents the breakdown of anandamide, a fatty acid transmitter that participates in the body’s endocannabinoid system. It plays a significant role in uplifting mood, decreasing levels of anxiety and stress, and relieving pain.
Why Cannabis is Effective for Pain Management?
Various research and clinical studies support the effectiveness of using cannabis in treating various forms of pain. Regular consumption provides no harmful side effects and is beneficial in numerous ways. One study was conducted by the Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Boston with thirty-seven participants suffering from arthritis, joint pain, neuropathy, and other chronic pain. All of these participants have tried using cannabis in relieving their pain. After six months of experimental use of cannabis, results showed a significant improvement in their pain, sleep, mood, anxiety, and quality of life.
- Fights Addiction
Medical cannabis is a healthier option as it is less addictive and safer to consume. It is also readily accessible as the use of medical cannabis is legally allowed. A 2017 study concluded that 93% of patients preferred the use of cannabis when it comes to pain management. CBD which is present in most cannabis strains helps by binding cannabinoid receptors to reduce drug cravings. As a result, addiction is no longer an issue.
- Blocks Pain
One of the main components of cannabis is THC and CBD. THC is responsible for alleviating pain by blocking pain signals in the nervous system. This way, users are less likely to suffer discomfort, withdrawal, and other side effects.
- Scientific Proofs
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes since time immemorable. The prohibition of its consumption only occurred in the middle of the 20th century. The term “medical cannabis” refers to physician-prescribed cannabis strains to treat illnesses or improve health conditions. One of the cited reasons for using cannabis is chronic pain. Larger research about the effectiveness of cannabis in treating pain takes a longer duration. This is to ensure the long-term efficacy and safe consumption of cannabis for pain control. Up to this date, various studies support the use of medical cannabis in treating chronic pain in adults.
The Best Cannabis Strains for Pain Management
As the studies about cannabis continue to advance, more cannabis strains are being developed and identified to possess the potential for pain relief. Depending on the formulation of the cannabis strain’s genetics, effects differ from one strain to another. While there is no one sure answer on which strain is the best for handling and alleviating pain, many users lean on the effectiveness of cannabis. There are three main varieties of cannabis: Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. Indicas are known for their numbing effects. In contrast, Sativas are famous for providing euphoric effects. Hybrids or the combination of two or more varieties produce various effects. If you are a novice in this area, the list of cannabis strains can be overwhelming. To better help you in choosing the right and best cannabis strains that suit your needs, here is a simple guide.
NY Turbo Diesel is a predominantly Sativa strain that is named after its sharp, diesel-like smell. It is known to be a fast-acting strain that delivers energizing effects. This strain is most popular among patients for its long-lasting effectiveness in reducing stress, depression, and chronic pain.
White Widow has a THC content of about 17 to 25 percent. This cannabis strain is effective in combatting stress, depression, anxiety, appetite loss, insomnia, and chronic pain. According to a 2018 study, White Widow is one of the best cannabis strains to use to relieve pain.
Blueberry 420 is an Indica-dominant cannabis strain. Thus it is understandable why it works eminently as a natural pain reliever. It is also considered one of the strongest medicinal strains as it also offers various health benefits.
Northern Lights is a legendary cannabis strain from the breeding of Afghani and Thai. This feminized, almost pure Indica plant contains 90% Indica genetics and produces a potent yield. It provides a numbing effect throughout the body which is recommended if you desire a good nap or a couch-locked effect. It works best in giving numbing effects to mild and severe pain while leaving your body feeling relaxed and well-rested.
White Quinn is a Sativa-dominant cannabis strain with a high concentration of CBD contents. It is one of the best cannabis strains that work efficiently in reducing pain and providing a soothing effect to the body.
This strain is considered to be one of the best when it comes to alleviating extreme pain. It is primarily due to its high level of CBD content that makes CBDoc one of the best choices for dampening the effects of chronic pain. It is also a favorable strain especially among sensitive patients as it has very low levels of THC.
This Sativa-dominant hybrid cannabis strain is well-known for its characteristics and effects in providing stress-free, calming relief to users. It is both high in THC and CBD levels. It has a THC level of 17 to 22 percent and a CBD level of 1 percent. The unique cannabinoid composition of this strain makes it highly effective for various types of illnesses including mild to severe pain. It also works for fatigue, headaches, anxiety, stress, insomnia, eating disorders, mood disorder, and more.
White Queen contains more than 24% THC level thus considered one of the most powerful cannabis strains to combat chronic pain. This strain is a hybrid of the breeding of White Widow and Blue Dream. Just like its parent, White Queen produces a soothing effect on the body which it got from White Widow. It also gives off cerebral effects which is a known characteristic of its other parent, the Blue Dream. This combination works well for people seeking pain relief, intensifying focus, boosting energy levels, and uplifting moods.
Rainbow Kush is a spectacular Indica-dominant hybrid strain with Master Kush and Hindu Kush parents. It's a prime example of the therapeutic potential of Indica-leaning strains. It's not just about the stunning play of colors that this strain exhibits but also about its commendable performance in pain relief and stress management.
Its potent effects predominantly manifest as physical relaxation, which proves especially beneficial for alleviating arthritis-related discomfort and muscle pains. Besides, many users have reported its effectiveness in managing depressive symptoms, insomnia, anxiety, and even nausea.
White Widow XTRM is a well-balanced hybrid strain resulting from a harmonious blend of Indica and Sativa genetics. Birthed from the legendary White Widow lineage, this strain is celebrated for its robust potency and the intense, long-lasting euphoria it induces in its users.
This strain's substantial relaxation effects help soothe tensed muscles, making it an excellent choice for managing various types of chronic pain. Users have praised its efficacy in relieving symptoms associated with arthritis, neuropathic pain, spinal disorders, and muscle tension. Beyond that, it's an all-around strain that offers a pleasant balance of cerebral stimulation and physical relaxation.
Pros and Cons of Using Cannabis to Treat Pain
The use of cannabis to treat or improve some aspects of chronic pain is not a new thing. In fact, if we trace back history, in 2900 BC, the Ancient Chinese have shown evidence of using cannabis for pain relief.
The use of cannabis for pain management is a great help for many. However, it is imperative to keep in mind that individuals differ, and thus effects and results may vary.
Due to various arguments in favor and against the use of cannabis for pain management, it is essential to gain a deeper understanding of its effects. Thus, before jumping to conclusions, let’s talk about the pros and cons of using cannabis:
Pros of Using Cannabis
- Reduces addiction
In the US alone, there are about 100 million people suffering from chronic pain. Most of these individuals are taking narcotic-based medications to relieve their pain. This reason alone is enough to consider the use of medical cannabis as a safer alternative to treat pain.
By substituting cannabis, opioid dependency can be reduced. Thus, the risks of getting addicted to those narcotic-based medicines will also decrease.
- Reduces inflammation
Cannabis is known to provide relief from pain. However, cannabis is not just for pain relief. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that reduce body inflammation and swelling. This makes cannabis an effective treatment for chronic pain conditions such as arthritis and neuropathy.
- Safe to consume
The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is not only effective but also a safe choice. There is no lethal dose involved as cannabis has minimal drug interaction and it is easy to dose.
- Relieves pain
With the proceeding liberalization of cannabis consumption, more scientific investigations are being conducted and as a result, it has been proven in various studies that cannabis is an effective alternative treatment for alleviating pain.
Cannabis is an all-natural component and thus safe to use and consume. As recorded in history, cannabis has been used as a natural medicine for various types of ailments for centuries.
Cons of Using Cannabis
- Cannabis tolerance
The most common argument by people who are against the use of cannabis for treating pain is cannabis tolerance.
People using cannabis for pain management may develop cannabis tolerance and will need to level up their dose for a longer period.
There is always a fair share of benefits and risks in taking any type of medication including cannabis. If you are considering the use of cannabis for pain management, don’t shy away and talk to your professional physician about it. A professional’s advice is needed to determine which type of treatment works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cannabis contains cannabinoids such as THC and CBD that activate receptors in the central nervous system, reducing the intensity of pain and making it more manageable.
Cannabis has been shown in various research and clinical studies to effectively treat different types of pain. It provides relief without harmful side effects and improves pain, sleep, mood, anxiety, and quality of life.
Cannabis reduces addiction, inflammation, and pain, it is safe to consume, and it is an all-natural alternative. Cons: Cannabis tolerance may develop with prolonged use, requiring higher doses.