For over 5,000 years, humans have relied on cannabis—an ancient remedy deeply ingrained in Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Chinese societies. Its historical use for pain relief continued until the early 1910s when it became a staple in American pharmacies.
Nowadays we know that different varieties of cannabis yield distinct chemicals known as cannabinoids. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the well-known cannabinoid, plays a pivotal role in both the pain-relieving and mind-altering facets of cannabis. On the other hand, hemp-like cannabis varieties produce CBD (cannabidiol), devoid of intoxicating effects. This article breaks down cannabis use for pain relief, covering the different kinds of strains and how to consume them.
Doctor’s Prescription: Cannabis for Pain
In many states, obtaining a doctor’s recommendation is a prerequisite for cannabis use, particularly for pain management. A plethora of scientific studies, including gold-standard randomized controlled trials, attests to the safety and efficacy of cannabis in alleviating chronic pain. Notably, cannabis often emerges as a substitute for opioids and benzodiazepines, showcasing its potential to mitigate unwanted side effects associated with traditional pain medications.
Decoding CBD’s Role in Pain Relief
CBD, a non-intoxicating compound, raises intriguing questions about its effectiveness in pain management. While some cellular-level studies suggest anti-inflammatory properties akin to NSAIDs, human research remains inconclusive. Patient surveys hint at CBD’s potential for chronic pain, yet controlled trials yield conflicting results. THC, another key component, often steals the spotlight in pain relief, supported by animal studies and brain tissue analyses.
Tailoring Cannabis Doses for Pain
Tailoring the perfect cannabis dosage for pain isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario, especially given conflicting studies on its effectiveness in reducing pain intensity. However, evidence suggests that cannabis can kill pain and enhance the overall quality of life and daily function. Factors influencing cannabis effectiveness include body chemistry, genetics, lifestyle, meal timing, frequency of use, and the chosen consumption method. Experts advocate the “start low and go slow” approach, emphasizing gradual dose increments over days or weeks to find an optimal balance.
Dosing Strategies for Cannabis Relief
Tinctures and Edibles
For swallowable products like tinctures and edibles, a cautious start with 1-2.5 mg THC for pain management is recommended. Due to the delayed onset of effects, waiting at least 3 hours before considering additional doses is crucial. The prolonged duration of effects, up to 12 hours, positions these products as valuable aids for sleep improvement in chronic pain patients.
Flower and Vaporizer Cartridges
Inhaling cannabis through flower or vaporizer cartridges offers immediate relief. Starting with balanced THC:CBD products or those higher in CBD helps avoid THC-induced side effects. Waiting 15 minutes after a single puff enables users to gauge the need for additional doses. Low-THC options provide flexibility, unlike high-THC counterparts with a singular gear.
Despite limited research on cannabis topicals, they emerge as a potential non-intoxicating pain relief option. Recommendations for regular application, several times daily, underscore their safety. Although it’s not entirely clear which specific types of weed pain relief topicals effectively target, their minimal risk of causing impairment makes them an appealing choice.
Cannabis and Sleep
Cannabis has been linked to improved sleep quality in patients with chronic pain, although an extensive research regarding falling asleep, uninterrupted sleep, or increased sleep duration require further exploration. Effectively handling undesired side effects such as fatigue and sleepiness entails strategic timing of cannabis use to prevent impairment during daily activities.
Strains: Beyond Indica and Sativa
The historical classifications of cannabis into Indica, Sativa, or hybrid categories now face scrutiny from modern scientific insights. Genetic diversity and environmental influences on cannabis growth contribute to distinct chemical profiles. When selecting weed for pain relief, high-THC varieties or a balanced THC:CBD ratio are favored, with THC identified as the primary pain-relieving component.
Risks and Responsibilities
So does weed help with pain? Indeed it does! The potential for pain relief through cannabis use is promising. Responsible use, strategic breaks, and recognizing signs of habit formation are vital components of successful cannabis-based pain management. At the same time vulnerable populations, such as teenagers, pregnant or breastfeeding individuals, and those with serious mental health concerns, should approach cannabis use with caution.