Cannabis has been used as a pain reliever for centuries, but only over the last 3 decades has it become better understood of the pain management properties cannabis can hold. Research has shown that both THC and CBD provide an effective relief from pain and is much safer then the traditional forms of pain management medications. Here we’ll dive into how medical marijuana can help with pain and why you should strongly consider it.
What Is Pain?
Pain is a term that described an uncomfortable sensation in the body which comes from an activation of the nervous system. Most people recover from an injury or operation and the pain begins to slowly go away, but for some the pain can continue and sometimes even get worse. People dealing with things like diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, cancer and much more are likely to experience chronic pain.
Pain comes from the spinal nerves, they send a message to the brain from the body telling it there is pain somewhere on your body. The brain then works as a control centre that works out how serious the problem is and what strength the pain should be.For example if you put your hand on a hot stove top a message of pain will travel through what known as a relex arc in the spinal cord which then will cause an instant contraction of the muscles, this contraction is what pulls your hand away from the hot surface. The act of touching that hot surface happens so fast that the messages doesn’t have enough time to reach the brain, once it does there will be an unpleasant sensation of pain. How an individual’s brain interprets these signals and the efficiency of the communication channel between the nociceptors and the brain dictate how people feel pain.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help With Pain?
There are two types of specific of pain that cannabis interacts with known as Nociceptive Pain and Neuropathic Pain. Nociceptive is the most common type of pain we experience, it develops when the nociceptive nerve fibers are triggered by inflammation, chemicals, or physical events, such as stubbing your toe on a piece of furniture. When we injure ourselves our body uses the damaged tissue to call on various inflammatory and immune cells to help repair the damage. When these cells arrive they begin to release proteins and chemicals which activates receptors on our nerves which then interacts with our spinal cord then to our brain which provides the feeling of pain.
When dealing with nociceptive pain our body needs to reduce the pain signals at the source of the injury by stopping the inflammatory process or the signals they send to the brain. When we take ibuprofen to reduce pain it blocks the production of prostaglandins which is a substance the body releases when we get hurt. The same can be said about THC and CBD, the two most dominant cannabinoids found in cannabis. Both THC and CBD have an abundance of potent anti-inflammatory effects. When we consume THC its anti-inflammatory effects are produced through the activation of our CB2 receptors on our immune cells which reduces pain in the body. CBD also provides anti-inflammatory qualities by blocking inflammatory mediators which shifts injuries from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory. THC alters pain at the level of the spinal cord where pain begins to transmit to our brains by activating our CB1 receptors. CBD can enhance receptor activity in the brains inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA which weakens pain signals between the nervous system and the brain. When consuming CBD it activates serotonin receptors which are known to reduce things like anxiety and stress, with both depression and anxiety associating with chronic pain CBD can help alter moods helping improve pain management.
Cannabis can helps with the mind-over-matter phenomenon which is a powerful tool when fighting pain. If you are feeling good, which cannabis produces then you are less likely to notice things that hurt. With a positive mood you can shift attention away from the pain and is entering the brain.
Cannabis also helps manage pain known as neuropathic pain which is commonly found in those with diseases, forceful injury, punching, or stabbing that damages our nerves. Diseases such as MS, HIV, Parkinson’s disease and HIV all fall under neuropathic pain. When treating neuropathic pain it is very difficult to treat as it doesn’t result from inflammation that can be specifically targeted like nociceptive pain, but that doesn’t mean many aren’t turning to cannabis for their neuropathic pain. CBD has shown to help with the development of chemotherapy type pain by increasing the serotonin receptors in the brain, CBD does not interact with how effective the chemotherapy drugs can be which makes it a good option for chemotherapy patients. Another neuropathic ailment cannabis has been shown to help with is sciatica which is a punching of the sciatic nerve causing pain in the lower back and down the legs. This is where weed can help for back pain. When experiencing sciatica there is an increase in CB1 receptors which when activated results in a reduction of pain, cannabis has shown it can relieve neuropathic pain by weakening pain signals that start in the spinal cord and process towards the brain.
Interested in what other injuries and illnesses marijuana can help with? Take a look at our How Marijuana Can Help To Treat Many Injuries and Illnesses article!
Cannabis Stains For Pain
Best cannabis strains for pain
Different cannabis strains can help manage different types of pain throughout the body, each strain has an analgesic property that can help relieve a variety of different problems like sore muscles, headaches, inflammation, nerve pain and more. Various strains have their own medical properties, it’s best to experiment with different strains and ways to consume to find the best strain for specific ailments. Here is a list of the best cannabis strains for pain. Haute has a variety of marijuana strains for pain that we recommend for pain.
ACDC is commonly known for its heavy CBD percentage. This CBD dominant strain is found to provide great physical relief with very little euphoria (high) which makes it great for managing pain while staying focused and productive.
Blueberry Kush provides a full body high that makes you light on your toes and helps forget any pain you’re feeling throughout your body. This heavy hitting THC dominant strain helps provides a very relaxing effect and can also help when dealing with things like insomnia.
Very high in CBD and terpene this restorative strain is very popular for those suffering from chronic pain. With very little THC this strain is popular for those managing pain on a daily basis without the feeling of being high.
One of the oldest known strains, Master Kush is a very heavy THC dominant strain and a very popular choice for pain. It is known to wrap the body with a soothing feeling helping relax the mind and the annoyance of any pain being felt throughout the body.
Harlequin is packed full of antioxidants and neuroprotective compounds and provides pain relief without the burden of a foggy mind. This high CBD strain provides a clear head and is perfect for day time use.
Learn More: What is medical marijuana used for?
Cannabis VS Pain Medications
Pain medication also known as opiods have been a major issue in North America, with prescription medication intake increasing to over 400% since the turn of the century. In 2017 the opioid crisis was classified as a public health emergency by the Canadian government and the US Department of Health and Human services. This has lead to a wide spread addiction that has resulted in almost 40 fatal overdoses per day. This leads to many moving from opiods to less harder drugs. As cannabis becomes more mainstream it has become more increasingly common for individuals to use marijuana to deal with chronic and actuate pain instead of prescription drugs.
A study was conducted by the University of Michigan and publish in the Journal of Pain looked at the use of medical cannabis being associated with a decrease in opiate medication. The survey found that their was a large decrease in side effects from prescription pain medications, reduce use of opioids specifically around 64% and the patients quality of life increased significantly when choosing marijuana over prescription medications. Research has also showed that when unlocked marijuana creates pain relieving molecules that are 30 times more powerful then aspirin. This offers a potent alternative to patients experiencing pain without the risk of addiction that comes in part with taking prescription painkillers.
It is clear that marijuana has a direct relation to helping relieve pain in the body and has considerately less side effects then prescription medications.There are side effects of marijuana that include side effects such as paranoia and anxiety, especially in the high THC strains. However the effects of marijuana are so minimal in comparison to the extreme effects associated with prescription drugs, prescription medications and opiods do nothing to combat the actual problem, only masking the symptoms. Cannabis is far less harsh and has even been used to help people wean off opioids. With marijuana steam rolling since legalization, it’s only a matter of time until cannabis is studied on a larger scale and is proven to help with a laundry list of health problems.
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