Are you one of the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain symptoms? Pain can range from minor to debilitating. In extreme cases, it can significantly limit your ability to enjoy life and even function normally. Traditional medicine treats severe pain symptoms with opioids and other painkillers, many of which are addictive and potentially deadly. In the US alone, over 120 people die every day from opioid overdose.
Medical marijuana can be highly effective at treating severe pain. In fact, debilitating pain is one of the many conditions the State of Ohio recognizes as being treatable with cannabis under the Ohio’s medical marijuana program. Cannabis provides a healthier alternative to traditional painkillers. It is not physically addictive, you can’t fatally overdose on marijuana, and medical cannabis lacks the laundry list of health risks that pharmaceuticals carry.
The Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Pain
Cannabis works on the same area of the brain that perceives pain as opioids, but in a way that’s not physically addictive or risks a fatal overdose.
One study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that of the 65% of people who take medical cannabis for pain, 80% find it to be very or extremely beneficial.
In fact, medical grade cannabis is one of the safest and most effective options for treating chronic pain. That’s probably why over two thirds of states have medical marijuana programs in some form or another.
“People develop tolerance to opioids, which means that they require higher doses to achieve the same effect,” Dr. Julia Arnsten, Professor of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, tells Science Daily. “This means that chronic pain patients often increase their dose of opioid medications over time, which in turn increases their risk of overdose.”
Which Strains of Medical Marijuana Work Best for Pain?
But it’s important to know that not all cannabis has the same effects. Some strains of medical marijuana are better for pain than others. In general, you should look at strains that are high in both CBD and THC, two active chemicals in marijuana. THC is the psychotropic phytocannabinoid that’s responsible for the “high” — the euphoric effects of cannabis. CBD is the second most well-known ingredient in marijuana — it is non-psychotropic and can be highly beneficial for pain relief. CBD-only medical marijuana products are legal over the counter nearly everywhere. However, studies do show that CBD is most effective when there is at least some degree of THC present.
That is why CBD that comes from medical-grade marijuana is so important when it comes to pain relief. It is very different from what you see advertised in health food stores over-the-counter. In Ohio, CBD products that have been derived from hemp and contain less than .1% THC are legal to buy without an Ohio medical marijuana card. But CBD derived from cannabis that has some amount of THC is best for pain relief. After all, pain is both a physiological and psychological response.
Strains with higher CBD can be effective at counteracting the high feeling of THC, as well as minimizing anxiety and rapid heartbeat. Medical marijuana that’s high in CBD can also be very effective at extending the half-life of THC, which can extend the pain relieving effects to be more beneficial for longer periods.
Why High-CBD Marijuana Strains Work Best for Pain
When used alone, CBD works best for inflammatory pain. One animal study found that the topical application of CBD oil led to a reduction in inflammation and pain. Other studies have found that CBD helps to reduce neuropathic pain through the suppression of chronic inflammation.
CBD does not bind to endocannabinoids but rather works to regulate the endocannabinoid system, helping to manage your body’s pain responses.
THC is clinically used to treat pain and has been found effective at treating symptoms of cancer, AIDS, and fibromyalgia.
The best marijuana strains for pain will have high THC and CBD content, or at least a high CBD to THC ratio. CBD effectively mediates the side effects of THC with the enhanced benefits of additional anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.