As study after study shows, Americans are turning to cannabis for pain relief in record numbers. Not only can it effectively treat several types of pain, but it’s helping reduce our dependence on objectively harmful pharmaceuticals such as opioids.
It shouldn’t be a surprise as to why. As long ago as 2900 BCE, Chinese physicians were using cannabis to treat pain and inflammation, as well as many of the other conditions we depend on it for today. Today, a growing number of clinical studies only confirm what those ancient doctors already knew: That when it’s used properly, cannabis can be a game-changer in the treatment of pain, easing symptoms and boosting overall quality of life.
But many of us—including many doctors—don’t know how to use cannabis for pain relief. In this article, we’ll talk about the roots of pain, how cannabis helps treat it, and how to choose the best types of cannabis for different kinds of pain.
Cannabis for Pain Relief: Understanding The Causes of Pain
Pain, much as we might dislike it, is a fact of life. For most of history, we understood it to be a symptom of an injury. But recently, that’s begun to change. that researchers have begun to shift their thinking on chronic pain, recognizing that it’s a serious disorder with several types. Here are the three major ones:
- Nociceptive Pain: Resulting from a physical injury, this type of pain is often treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
- Neuropathic (or “Nerve”) Pain: This type of pain can also be caused by a physical injury, but it refers to injury to a nerve. It doesn’t typically respond to anti-inflammatories.
- Central Pain: Sometimes called “mystery pain,” this occurs in the absence of a physical injury. One example is fibromyalgia, a difficult-to-diagnose condition.
Cannabis for Pain Relief: Using Cannabinoids to Manage Pain
While each of these types of pain is different, they’re all alike in that cannabis has the potential to treat them. And the principal way it does it is through a group of natural chemicals called “cannabinoids.” You’re probably familiar with the two most important ones: THC and CBD. THC, of course, is the one responsible for the cannabis plant’s euphoric “high.”
What’s important to know here is that THC and CBD work with the body in different ways to help reduce pain and swelling at injury sites. And every cannabis product we sell is labeled with a cannabinoid ratio, which tells you exactly how much THC, CBD, or both it contains. This is important when it comes to choosing which products will work best with each type of pain.
Speaking of which, let’s revisit that list of specific pain types again.
- Nociceptive Pain: Many clinicians recommend using a cannabis product that contains a roughly balanced 1:1 ratio between THC and CBD for nociceptive pain. Because each one works differently, you’ll get the maximum benefit of each one’s anti-inflammatory and other pain-fighting properties. And if you find THC distracting, the high proportion of CBD will help mitigate some of its psychoactivity.
- Neuropathic (or “Nerve”) Pain: For this type of pain, high-THC products can provide relief through their euphoria. But CBD may actually be more useful here; though the results weren’t conclusive, one study found that CBD might be effective against neuropathic pain. And a groundbreaking study funded by the Dutch government aims to find definitive answers to the question.
- Central Pain: While there are many unanswered questions about this puzzling type of pain, there are signs of hope. In one study on 26 fibromyalgia patients, every single subject found that cannabis improved their pain. Another recent study came to much the same conclusion. But doctors aren’t sure which cannabinoid ratio is best for central pain; some clinicians suggest trying a product with an equal ratio of THC of CBD to take advantage of both of these powerful pain-fighting compounds.
As you see, there are a number of ways cannabis can help with pain relief. But no matter which strain or product you use, we want to point out the importance of regulating your dosage. That’s because cannabis is biphasic, meaning that its effects change depending on its dosage.
While it may sound strange, research indicates that the majority of us experience greater pain relief (and other medical benefits) from using less cannabis, not more. That’s why we always suggest you use the least amount of cannabis needed to achieve optimal results. It may require a little more trial and effort to find that amount, but once you do, you’ll experience gentler, more effective, and more sustainable results!
Do you have more questions about using cannabis for pain relief? Just reach out; we’re always here to help!