How Is Medical Marijuana an Effective Treatment for Chronic Pain?
Years’ worth of anecdotal evidence points to the efficacy of marijuana to treat chronic pain conditions. Nowadays, medical and scientific communities are catching up with what many marijuana advocates have known for years.
According to a Harvard-led review of 28 studies of cannabinoids to treat medical and pain issues published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the use of marijuana for chronic pain is supported by quality evidence.
Furthermore, a study from the University of Michigan from March 2016 and published in the Journal of Pain showed that marijuana:
- Improved quality of life.
- Reduced opioid usage by an average of 64 percent.
- Decreased side effects of other medications.
Your body creates its own cannabis-like chemicals that affect various processes like inflammation and pain. It’s thought that cannabis works well to treat chronic discomfort due to these natural cannabinoid receptors we all have within our bodies, although more research needs to be done to ascertain exactly how marijuana works to relieve pain
Chronic Pain Symptoms Treated by Medical Marijuana
It can be difficult for you to deal with chronic pain without help. Medical marijuana and pain conditions are closely related regarding alleviating symptoms you may have been suffering from for a protracted time. Medical pot may offer you substantial relief if you suffer from any of the following:
- General non-specific chronic pain — for example, cancer pain or chronic neuropathic pain
- Low back pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- TMJ disorder
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Neck pain
- HIV/AIDS-related pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Central nervous system issues
- Accident and injury-related pain
- And more
How to Get Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain
In many states now, chronic pain is a qualifying medical condition, allowing you to be treated by medical marijuana. This also includes, severe, intractable or other types of pain as a qualifying medical condition for medical marijuana treatment. Check with your state.
Ways to Use Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain
While marijuana is generally praised for its safe and therapeutic properties, many users enjoy the fact that cannabis offers a treatment plan with many different methods of intake, too.
Many patients with chronic or severe pain enjoy smoking or vaporizing their cannabis supply when possible. Since these intake methods provide a more rapid effect in the body, they offer a quick way to experience relief. If the ability to minimize discomfort rapidly is vital to your treatment, consider discussing this intake method with your physician in greater depth.
Cannabis can also be ingested via capsules, tablets, tinctures, and edibles. For localized pain treatment, consider using a topical, such as an ointment or cream, instead. You’ll experience targeted pain relief in the specific portion of your body where pain is occurring.
Many patients find it beneficial to incorporate multiple intake methods into their wellness plan. For more information about the cannabis supply and methods that are best suited for your needs, discuss your options with a certified marijuana doctor.
Best Strains of Marijuana for Chronic Pain
Of course, the chemical composition of the strain you choose as well as your method of ingestion may affect your painkilling outcome. Keep in mind that it’s likely you might need to take a trial and error approach before you hit on the right strain and dosage for you.
Generally speaking, less is more when it comes to treating this type of pain. Many people find that sativa strains higher in THC — the primary psychoactive substance that gives you a “high” — work better for them than hybrid or indica strains. These also work most effectively in doses that are low to moderate and can potentially make your pain worse in higher doses.
No matter how you plan to ingest medical cannabis, there are various strains that can help reduce your discomfort. These include:
- ACDC: Although it can be difficult to find, ACDC contains high levels of the cannabinoids CBD and THC. Advocates of this strain indicate that the benefits are numerous.
- Afghan Kush: A potent general pain reliever, Afghan Kush is almost 100 percent indica. Its effects are felt mostly physically which is why it works so well regarding pain relief. Afghan Kush contains anti-inflammatory and painkilling terpenes.
- Blue Dream: Blue Dream is a hybrid sativa that was first grown in California. It provides not only relaxation throughout the entire body, but many users also find it to be invigorating. This strain produces a mellow euphoria that yields a calming effect and also has an aroma similar to berries. Since it doesn’t result in the sedative effects of other strains, Blue Dream is well-suited for daytime use.
- Granddaddy Purple: Another Californian type, Granddaddy Purple has been in existence for approximately 15 years. This strain can be potent, so don’t use it if you plan to go out during the day or the evening. Patients use Granddaddy Purple to relieve symptoms from pain, muscle spasms, stress, insomnia and more.
- Girl Scout Cookies: This is another hybrid with a sweet aroma that’s very easy to spot, thanks to its orange hairs and purple leaves. This strain is well-known for producing a feeling of relaxation throughout the body and is popular among people who suffer from not only severe pain but also nausea and loss of appetite. The Girl Scout Cookies strain is best taken in small doses until you’re certain of how much you can handle at one time.
- Jack Herer: A well-known strain for easing nerve pain, Jack Herer, named after the author and activist, is high in sativa. Filled with natural painkillers, Jack Herer contains pinene that has anti-tumor properties.
- White Widow: A half-and-half cross between a pure indica and a pure sativa, this is a well-balanced strain that makes you feel uplifted while tackling your pain. White Widow also contains linalool, an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that’s also found in lavender.
Always speak to your doctor about which medical marijuana strain is anticipated to work best for your type of pain.
Side Effects of Marijuana for Chronic Pain
It’s imperative that you start off with the lowest dose possible when you’re beginning to take medical pot. You’ll soon find out via a trial and error process what works best for you.
If you do have any side effects of ingesting medical marijuana, they won’t last long and may include:
- Dry mouth and thirst
- Short-term memory loss
- Increased appetite
- Red eyes
- Anxiety or uneasiness
Medical marijuana affects everyone differently, but overall, the marijuana side effects are more manageable and milder than those that come with traditional medicines like opioids.
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