Marijuana and Chronic Pain – What You Need to Know

A white medical box of cannabis and a white box of colorful pills. Concept of medical cannabis therapy.

Medical marijuana is becoming an increasingly popular alternative method to treat chronic pain. It has the ability to ease the intensity of many types of pain, including that which is the result of inflammation and/or nerve damage.

Within the United States alone, chronic pain affects more people than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. In fact, it is the biggest cause of long term disability in the whole of North America.

Nevertheless, a substantial proportion of cannabis-based products currently lack approval from the FDA, with more evidence required before these can be deemed both effective and safe. However, there is anecdotal evidence that suggest cannabis, or at least its compounds, can work to relieve some types of chronic pain.

There are numerous strains or types of cannabis available, each having slightly different effects on the human body. Below we take a look at some of the best types to relieve pain.

Best cannabis types for pain relief

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Varieties of the cannabis plant include hybrids, cannabis sativa, and cannabis indica. The research on the use of certain strains of marijuana for pain relief is lacking, and so many specific strains cannot yet be recommended for pain relief.

However, anecdotal evidence does suggest that cannabis indica strains are preferable for pain management, whereas cannabis sativa is said to help improve mood and energy.

How does cannabis work for pain relief?

Most studies that examine the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and in particular chronic pain relief, look at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

A review of the research shows that several trials that have provided positive results and suggests that cannabis or CBD can be effective in treating some forms of chronic pain, including nerve pain.

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One other piece of research indicated that cannabis use in the treatment for pain from cancer led to a reduction of opioid use by patients of 64%. Not only this, but it also meant patients used fewer different medications altogether.

Contrary to this, however, was some research published in The Lancet that concluded the use of cannabis had no effect on reducing the need to use opioids or, in fact, the symptoms of pain.

Using cannabis for more general medical purposes may yet yield different results than those that simply focus on pain relief. Nevertheless, what is clear is that much more research is still needed into the area of cannabis use for chronic pain management, particularly into the use of the different strains of the plant.

What to remember

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Several studies have reported the benefits of using cannabis to help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain. Some even go on to show that it has been effective in reducing the need to use opioids (the current, and most potent, main relief medication available).

The side effects of using cannabis are, in most instances, minimal; particularly compared to those of opioids. However, as a result of the lack of regulation surrounding the substance, therapies utilizing cannabis, its exact composition, and the quality of the product cannot, right now, be guaranteed.

Marijuana is available in a number of different strains, so if one does not work to reduce systems, another strain may. It is best to keep the dosage low until the right strain is found. This is particularly true if the person is new to using cannabis.

According to Veriheal, Anyone considering cannabis for chronic pain should discuss the associated risks and benefits with their physician and obtain the medication legally from a reputable dispensary. That is important because you can rest assured that you get high-quality products.