Chronic pain is a silent pandemic. Everyone knows someone enduring it – a parent, friend, or neighbor – yet it is an issue that rarely gets a headline. It is as if the world accepted it as a natural part of life.
A few years ago, a market research report revealed that more than 1.5 billion people suffer from recurring physical agony. Along with that whopping number is the opioid epidemic in the US that is quickly swallowing the country at an alarming rate. With such issues on the rise, patients and medical practitioners alike are on the lookout for safer alternatives.
In comes cannabis, an all-natural solution to both pain and substance abuse outbreak. It contains cannabinoids such as THC and CBD that work excellently with different body receptors. These interactions produce an array of effects, one of which is wiping out pains.
How Cannabis Keep Pain Under Control
Cannabis, especially its medicinal benefits, remain shrouded in skepticism. Most people cannot picture it as anything but a recreational herb with no health-giving value. After all, traditional medicines are not rolled into joints and smoked.
However, no matter how unusual it is, it does contain cannabinoids that have brought relief to numerous ailments.
THC & CBD
Both belonging to the group of compounds called cannabinoids, THC, and CBD are the very reason cannabis has both medical and recreational effects. They resemble the components innate to the human body, the Endocannabinoids. Working with the endocannabinoid system composed of cell receptors, the latter regulates bodily activities. Due to their similarity, when the body is losing balance, THC and CBD can come to the rescue.
To address the pain, cannabis deals with the matters of the mind first. It starts by sending a euphoric sensation to the part of the brain linked to reward and motivation. THC, a psychoactive compound, plays a role in this regard. By providing a distraction, it shifts the attention away from the pain. With the focus not entirely set on the physical torment, the agony feels less severe.
After the mental diversion, both THC and CBD target the cannabinoid receptors found in the peripheral nerves. In response, the receptors fine-tune neurotransmitters and the central nervous system. This corporeal activity eases nerve-related issues also known as neuropathy. The causes of neuropathic pain include arthritis, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, HIV infections, diabetes, and cancer.
Pain Relieving Qualities Of Cannabis
Cannabis has been utilized for medicinal purposes since the ancient times. About 10,000 years ago, the plant was already used to ease pains away as well as remedy varied types of conditions in China. From the old kingdom, it traveled to other parts of Asia and even reached the Middle East and the African continent. And, with the help of modern science and strict analysis, the world will ultimately understand this wonder weed.
Chronic And Acute Pain
Researchers of Tikun Olam in Israel found that cannabis provides adequate pain relief. Of the 1200 cancer patients who partook the study and used marijuana for 6 months, more than half experienced substantial comfort. Also, in a small study that only involved 47 people who have Parkinson’s disease, 27% also reported improvement in pain.
In another paper published, German researchers concluded 16 studies with over 1700 sufferers of chronic nerve pain. An increased number of participants reported that cannabis-based remedies reduced pain to up to 50% or more.
One of the most notable studies conducted in the US was about the efficacy of cannabis in soothing migraines. Administered by the University of Colorado, of the 121 participants, around 85% reported fewer migraine episodes per month. 20% of the patients also claim marijuana prevented migraines, while 40% experienced positive effects.
Meanwhile, a study conducted by the European Academy of Neurology found that cannabinoids alleviated migraine pains by 40% or more. People troubled by cluster headaches also benefited, but only those who endured childhood migraines as well.
Cannabis As Painkillers VS Opioids
Although the opioid epidemic sweeping the entire United States is on paper’s front page, it is, in fact, a global problem. The crisis is breaking apart families after families, one community after the other. And, it cares not about one’s country of origin or the passport someone is holding.
Currently, opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 30 times more robust than heroin, are legally prescribed. And, the misuse of these drugs claims more than 115 lives in the US alone every day. In 2015, around 2 million Americans also suffered from disorders brought about by these medications.
Cannabis, on the other hand, has been around for ages. And, it has been used to manage pain in the prehistoric societies up to the present time. Many experts also say that the end of the opioid outbreak rides on the success of the production of these medications.
In a recent study, about 3000 people said cannabis gives relief comparable to that of their own medication, but without the adverse effects.
- 97% claims they used lesser amounts of opioid if they also used cannabis.
- 81% said cannabis use is more effective than taking it together with opioids.
Unfortunately, the USFDA has not approved any cannabis-derived painkillers to this very day. In spite of that, a few pharmaceutical companies like Axim Biotechnologies Inc, Intec Pharma Ltd, and Nemus Bioscience Inc are in the works to develop cannabis-based drugs. 2018 even saw the launch of three FDA-approved marijuana-derived medications. Epidiolex is a drug for two rare and acute forms of epileptic seizures. Meanwhile, Dronabinol and Nabilone are nausea drugs that use synthetic THC. These are, indeed, historical milestones for both cannabis and medicine field.
Best Strains For Pain Management
There are thousands of cannabis strains that can aid people enduring agonizing pains. Those who need to stay active and would like a bit of energy boost while also evading discomforts prefer Sativa variants. Meanwhile, patients who are crying out for torment-free evenings and slumber lean towards Indica herbs. On the other hand, there are some who go for hybrids with balanced effects to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Girl Scout Cookies (GSC). A cross between OG Kush and Durban Poison, GSC is a potent strain just like its parents. As such, just a little bit of the sweet and earthy hybrid goes a long way. It starts promptly with a compelling cerebral buzz followed by a relaxing body high. GSC is an excellent option for people in need of comfort from severe pain. Meanwhile, its strong munchies encourage better appetite and stops nausea and vomiting.
Jack Herer. An example of a genetic trifecta, Jack Herer is the progeny of Haze, Shiva Skunk, and Northern Lights #5. It hailed from the Netherlands around the mid-1990s and made rounds in Dutch pharmacies as medical-grade strain. A slightly Sativa-leaning pot, it is an excellent choice for pain-relief during the daytime while also energizing the user.
Blackberry Kush. The mostly Indica Blackberry Kush is an offspring of Blackberry and Afghani. Its body numbing and calming strength is from the celebrated landrace predecessor. However, its pain-suppressing ability is a gift from both parents. Under its influence, users let go of physical agony without giving up mobility.
Inflammation And Arthritis
Harlequin. Ideal to use during the day, Harlequin is a Sativa-heavy analgesic that does not leave one in a daze. It boasts of a CBD to THC ratio of 5:2; its THC levels play around 7 to 15%, while CBD ranges from 4 to 10%. Such a blend of compounds allows it to alleviate pain and the symptoms of mental troubles. Even better, all these effects come without the state of haziness.
White OG. Although White OG only contains 60% Indica, it is a relaxant that gives no chance of mobility. Even with just one toke, its tremendous THC capacity of up to 24% is evident almost immediately. The bud induces a mind high that hopelessly put users in a trance-like daze. Then, after a short while, an intense body buzz sets in, softening limbs in seconds. While couch-locked, the plant’s anodyne, anti-spastic, and anti-inflammatory properties will come surging in. All those activities make White OG an effective cannabis for depressive and anxiety disorders, as well as joint and muscle strains.
Blue Widow. A slightly Indica-leaning variant, Blue Widow’s effects depend on the dosage taken. In small doses, users benefit from its Sativa effects. It gives an uplifting cerebral buzz and eases mild pains. Meanwhile, in larger dosages, its relaxing and soothing kick becomes more prominent. Thus, allowing it to provide a full body melt and ease even acute physical agony.
Headaches And Migraines
Blueberry Headband. “Just right” is the best phrase to describe Blueberry Headband. It sends a cerebral rush and calming body buzz that do not overwhelm. This cannabis is nonetheless robust enough to allay physical distress. In high demand on the West Coast, in Michigan, and in Arizona, it is a favorite amongst those suffering from head pains.
Blue Dream. Blueberry Headband is an esteemed strain novice and veteran users alike can consume. Hailing from the Golden State, Sativa Haze and Blueberry Indica are the hybrid’s parents. Its revered lineage allows it to palliate several mental woes and bodily pains. Even better, it does so without causing heavy sedation. As such, users get to enjoy the head to toe relief with the freedom of movement.
Purple Arrow. For an easy on the mind and body effects, Purple Arrow is the marijuana to shoot. Because it is potent, it will not miss its mental and physical targets. At the same time, it will not give users a heavy over-medicated feeling common to many anodyne herbs and drugs. For this reason, non-strenuous activities are very much welcome. The plant relieves pain and inflammation due to injuries or ailments, along with appetite issues and insomnia.
Back And Spinal Injury Pain
Bubba Kush. Although Bubba Kush has a coffee flavor, this cannabis will not keep anyone awake. Quite the opposite, it is a strong sedative that relaxes users before lulling them to sleep. A hit of this pure Indica blankets the body with comfort all the while ousting pain away. With its massive THC capacity, it can even manage acute back and spine complaints.
ACDC. With up to 20% CBD, ACDC is one of the rare varieties that boasts of 1:20 THC to CBD ratio. Such an unusually high amount of cannabidiol makes it useful in managing anxiety, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. It is also one of the top choices for mitigating backaches. Even more remarkable is that it does not induce the high. As such, it appeals to medical users who do not wish to experience any psychoactive effects.
Mazar I Sharif. Known as one of the best Indicas around, it is no surprise Mazar I Sharif is on this list. Users in need of some evening solace can rely on this strain. Its 20% THC and 1% CBD make it an excellent analgesic pharmaceutical. Robust enough to incapacitate, it can also cause a serious mind-warp if over-indulged.
Muscle Cramps And Spasms
Granddaddy Purple. GDP is one of the most of the most preferred Indicas on dispensary shelves. Not only delectable, it is potent and excels in delivering strong physical relief as well. These benefits are courtesy of its THC level that shoots up to 27% and an almost 1% CBD capacity. Such figures enable the bud to leave a deep sense of bodily calm with a hint of numbness. As a result, it also gets to abate muscle spasms and various types of chronic pains.
Redwood Kush. Redwood Kush is an Indica-heavy pot with solid anti-inflammatory properties. Although robust, it is the type that those with little exposure to cannabis can use. It does well in controlling muscle spasms, tremors, and inflammation. On top of that, it supplies immediate palliation to various mild and recurring body pains.
Dynamite. An Indica-dominant strain, Dynamite focuses on the body. Every sample gives the body what it needs to achieve comfort. The euphoric physical effect begins with a wave of relaxation that calms the muscle. Then, it alleviates discomforts such as head pains with its analgesic properties. Users accomplish restfulness within just a few minutes.
Critical Mass. The Indica-heavy Critical Mass comes in two variations. Perfect for those who want the famous cannabis high and all its medicinal benefits, the original comes with a high THC volume and adequate analgesic strength. It can calm muscle tensions and chronic pain. On the other hand, CBD Critical Mass has a 1:1 or 1:2 THC to CBD ratios. Both psycho-active and cannabidiol load plays around 5 to 10%. It is a brilliant option for patients who wish to achieve physical comfort without the usual mind buzz. Its loyal consumers include people enduring pains from sclerosis and even cancer.
Cannatonic. Cannatonic is an excellent choice for patients who want to reap the boons of cannabis without the high. Boasting a CBD content of 6 to 17%, it is a strain that guarantees mental and physical relief. The variant is so robust that it can repress epileptic seizures. It also alleviates the pains and aches from different ailments such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, and muscle spasms. And, because the pot has a low THC load that rarely goes above 6%, the moment of respite it affords is without the mind buzz.
Tahoe OG. A member of the OG family tree, Tahoe OG also hails from the West Coast where it remains to be popular. It is an Indica-dominant strain that is perfect for some nighttime relaxation and comfort. The up to 20% THC level it carries gives freedom from different kinds of physical agony. It effectively ebbs pains from the likes of Fibromyalgia, arthritis, and migraines.
Different Ways To Use Medical Cannabis
There are various ways to use and enjoy medical marijuana. Choosing which method is best depends on preference and needs. Smoking and vaporizing are most fitting to people who require immediate effects. Meanwhile, those who can afford to wait can go with edibles. Whatever approach one chooses to do, making sure the dosage is apt is most essential.
Many medical users smoke cannabis due to its fast delivery. Heating up marijuana particles allows effects to kick in quickly. Within a few minutes, relief comes surging in, engulfing pain whole.
Do note, however, that this method has a few drawbacks. First of all, just like smoking cigars, it may be harmful to the lungs. Second, people with asthma or pulmonary issues should not consider going this route. And, lastly, those who would like to stay discreet may not be able to do so as lighting up and puffing marijuana creates a telltale smell. The odor lingers on the smokers, their clothes, and even on furniture around them.
Whipping cannabis-blended food is gaining popularity especially amongst those who know their way around the kitchen. Lots of recipes are available online ready for the taking. Additionally, medical users can also purchase edibles like popcorns, lollipops, cookies, and brownies.
Through this approach, the impact of the weed does not kick in until after an hour or so. For this reason, patients who need prompt relief may not want to eat or drink down the source of comfort. The wait is well worth it, though, because its effects tend to last longer.
Another speedy way to reap the benefits of pot is by vaporizing. Heating a dried and cured marijuana up to 176 to 204°C decarboxylates THC. When the compound evaporates, the user can then breathe it in. Also, vaping the weed keeps users away from the dangers of smoking.
Topical medical marijuana comes in different application forms. Ointments are most common, but there are lotions, salves, and sprays too. It is most preferred by users who do not want any psychoactive kicks. Its primary consumers are those suffering from skin conditions, soreness, and arthritis. Because the product is thick and greasy, bear in mind that a few may experience skin irritation.
Like cannabis-whisked consumables, beverages fused with cannabinoids is also a following. Many concoct it with favorite drinks such as smoothies and juices. Meanwhile, some include cannabis beers, sodas, and coffee in their shopping list. Like the edibles, these types of refreshments also allow patients to savor the effects longer.
Ingest Concentrate Or Hemp Oils
There are plenty of ways to consume cannabis oils. One can ingest concentrate capsules, transfer the sticky resin using syringes, or mix it in edibles and devour them. This form is most frequently used by cancer patients and those enduring severe pain.
Hemp oils contain high amounts of CBD with anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it is enjoying extreme popularity with patients suffering from seizures. People struggling with multiple sclerosis and arthritis also favor it.
Like infant vitamins and medicines, tinctures come in glass bottles with droppers. Essentially, it is alcohol infused with marijuana extract. Often, users consume it by putting a drop under the tongue. Blending it with any dish, drinks, or even soup and salad is okay and a more palatable way to enjoy the solution.
Tinctures are fast acting and easy to measure for proper dosage. Moreover, if stored in a cool, dark location, it can last for a couple of years. This infusion is suitable for those who prefer going smokeless.
Perhaps the most undesired method on the list, cannabis suppositories remain unknown to most. It is, however, one of the most effective ways to take in marijuana. Oral consumption only renders 35% of the herb, while smoking brings a meager 15% at best. Rectal delivery, on the other hand, affords 80% of the plant.
People suffering from severe conditions must highly consider this method. It shares the most significant amount of cannabis for the body to absorb. Moreover, it comes with zero cerebral high and no known adverse offshoots.
Although it has been around for almost a decade, dabbing cannabis has only recently seen a rise in popularity due to the birthing of different extracts available for use. It comes in wax, budders, shatters, and hash oils. One needs to heat these sticky oils while in a dab rig and inhale its vapor.
Individuals who want to experience what a true potent THC feels like must try dabbing. While buds have a THC volume of around 10 to 25%, a concentrate has about 50 to 80%. Moreover, THC extracts are more widely available as compared to CBD oils.
Possible Side Effects
As with most, if not all, medications, pharma-cannabis comes with undesirable effects. Most of the time, these adverse consequences are results of taking in immoderate dosages. To avoid running into any of those on the list, patients must follow the doctor’s advice and directions.
- Marijuana dependence or addiction
- Breathing problems or bronchitis if a user smoke regularly
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Short-term memory loss
- Paranoia, anxiety, or other mental concerns (if a user is predisposed)
- Impaired reactions
- Loss of concentration
- Rapid heart rate
- Raise or lower blood pressure
The Next Medical Marvel
People have been enjoying cannabis and benefiting from its medicinal impact since time immemorial. Unfortunately, come 20th century, its thousands of years of excellent service went down the drain. In the present-day, most parts of the world know it as a recreational herb for the wasted souls and a harmful one for the upright. Nonetheless, the plant is getting good rep lately due to the countless benefits it has been sharing.
Medical cannabis is legal in 30 U.S. states and even in Washington D.C., but it remains prohibited on the federal level. At the moment, it is in the category of Schedule I drug or those with “high potential for abuse”. Similar to heroin and LSD, it is also considered of “no currently accepted medical use”.
Apart from its notorious reputation, the limited research on the herb is due to federal restrictions. Should universities pursue further studies, they risk violating federal law and losing federal funding. To run a study about pot effectivity, participants must come to the educational institution for initial assessment. Then, they must purchase their own stash from dispensaries to get the ball rolling.
It is undeniable that cannabis and the robust properties it holds are of great value. Even with the many restrictions that limit its potential, it still manages to shine. Should the US government declassify marijuana as Schedule I drug, researches on the herb would be more progressive.
Thankfully, other countries and foreign institutions have stepped up. More researches and funding can shed a better light on its usefulness, especially in the medical field. With the rise of cannabis, the global opioid crisis might come to an end.