As you probably already know by now, cannabis is widely used to address chronic pain. In addition to helping treat symptoms that come along with constant aches, and side-effects of prescriptions that are often taken to address it.
With the opioid crisis and a rising number of overdoses, many of those who suffer from chronic pain conditions are alternatively seeking methods for healing. Hence, the increased use of medical marijuana. But what is the research behind the consumer shift to cannabis for treating chronic pain? Here we’ll explore the exact connections between cannabinoids, and pain to see how weed is helping.
Cannabis effects come from the unique cannabinoids that each plant or strain contains. These compounds work with your body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates a variety of functions and processes. The ECS for short is a communication network of receptors that send messages throughout the body’s physiological system to maintain ‘homeostasis’. Or, the overall feeling of well-being, AKA, not in ‘pain’ or uncomfortable.
Cannabinoids influence each internal receptor, and cell differently which offset the wide range of benefits that cannabis can provide. This is important to know when understanding how cannabis can help treat conditions that cause pain, or chronic pain in general.
Especially considering the number of imbalances that cause aches from head to toe. Next, let’s review what chronic pain actually is and what causes it to better understand how cannabis can help.
What is Chronic Pain?
By definition, ‘chronic pain’ is any ache or pain that is persistent and lasts weeks, months and even years. You feel pain from messages being sent throughout your central nervous system. For instance, when you stub your toe pain receptors are activated in that area.
The receptors send a message through nerves to the brain, for the brain to respond with a message of feeling ‘hurt’. When someone suffers from chronic pain, these nerves never stop communicating or messaging. Meaning, pain is almost constantly felt. With cannabis’ effect on receptors, and messengers you can see how the two connect, already.
Many conditions are associated with this type of ‘chronic’ pain. Including common recurring pains that can be offset by environmental factors or lifestyles. Like the way you sit at work, standing on the job all day, or allergies frequently causing headaches. As examples, here are a few disorders or occurrences that are associated with feeling ‘chronic pain’:
- Back pain
- Neurogenic pain or nerve damage
Pain also arises from injuries, surgeries and even just ageing. Making the issue widespread for a majority of the population. In 2019, Health Canada estimated that nearly one in every five Canadiens suffers from chronic pain.
On the cannabis side of things, another recent survey showed that 62% of medical marijuana users are consuming cannabis for chronic pain. So, what’s the science behind how cannabis can help treat common aches and persistent pains for a growing number of users? We’ll be covering that next.
The Science and Research Behind Cannabis & Chronic Pain
If you’ve ever smoked a strain that is notorious for providing a ‘body buzz’ then you can understand how cannabis works effectively for chronic pain. One Harvard-led review of 28 separate studies confirmed this benefit for effective pain treatment. 11 of the trials reviewed showed ‘significant improvements’ for patients suffering specifically from chronic pain and neuropathic pain.
But figuring out the exact science of why cannabinoids alleviate pain is taking researchers some time. While specific trials and studies catch up, experts do have some insight into how weed is healing many conditions associated with chronic pain.
CBD and THC are the two main cannabinoids that have been investigated the most. From what we’ve learned so far, we know that they both directly influence pain receptors. But what’s most intriguing for most cases of chronic pain is the anti-inflammatory traits that these cannabinoids and others have to offer.
In fact, many over-the-counter options for pain are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This includes ibuprofen and brands like Advil and Motrin. While they interact differently internally, both cannabis and these medications have the same idea – reducing inflammation, to alleviate the pain that’s associated with it.
As for specific conditions, some studies have had success in reducing pain symptoms. Including –
- A Canadian Medical Association Journal study showed cannabis successfully reduced joint inflammation, swelling and pain associated with arthritis.
- In 2008 a study showed cannabis use significantly reduced neuropathic pain.
Cannabis Products Ideal for Chronic Pain
Over time, cannabis consumers themselves have figured out ideal ratios and products that are effective in reducing pain. For the most part, since CBD and THC are both anti-inflammatory and dynamic in effects for pain, a high level of each is helpful. Some cited the ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 CBD:THC found in tinctures as being the best for tackling common aches.
Of course, like everything in cannabis your ideal style of healing or product will depend on your specific needs. So experimenting with various strains, and types of goods is usually necessary. Overall, a few cannabis products are helpful for the long-lasting and full-bodied effects that are required for chronic pain. They include:
- Edibles – Edibles effects last 4-8 hours depending on dosage, ideal for persistent pain. In addition, edibles can provide high potencies in small packages.
- RSO – Rick Simpson Oil is notorious for being termed to ‘cure cancer’. The extract contains whole plant matter, that adds to an ‘entourage effect’ of relief for pain.
All-Natural Relief for Aches and Pains
While marijuana might not 100% alleviate the pains felt with many common conditions, it’s successful at dulling and diminishing most aches. Many consumers are turning to cannabis as all-natural relief, not only for chronic pain but for the side effects that pain medications can offset.
Weed is a complex plant that has individual strains and unique profiles of cannabinoids and terpenes that address varied symptoms differently. So, your best bet is to keep experimenting with various strains, or products, to find which targets your aches and pains, best. To begin, check out Greenz’s extensive collection of top-shelf goods for top-quality healing.